Like so many other New Zealanders living outside of Christchurch, I watched the televised coverage as Hollie Smith sang a moving rendition of How Great Thou Art with Te Karehana Gardiner-Toi in remembrance of the terrorist attack victims.
It was one of those unforgettable, spellbinding moments, as her voice lifted over the thousands of people gathered at North Hagley Park with the words ‘then sings my soul’.
Her voice is all about the soul - powerful, emotive and searching.
She somehow occupies the space inside a song, exploring its unheard notes and softer tones, brushing and easing out rallentandos and muted harmonies, weaving in side melodies that pause and ebb for held moments.
The enriched blend is not about simply singing a song, but allowing the song and music to flow through your being, becoming one with it, slowing it down, gently pulling at it and adding in shades of harmonic colour and texture until two or three lines of song have become a rich flora of feelings from the deepest part of one’s soul.
Hollie Smith and her band of superb musicians will be bringing a special night of jazz to Baycourt on Easter Sunday.
With Dan Hayles on keys, Cory Champion on drums and Johnny Lawrence playing bass, Hollie will present an evening of contemporary and traditional jazz.
“I first played at the Tauranga Jazz Festival 22 years ago, as part of my schooling,” says Hollie.
At 16 she won Best Female Vocalist at the 1999 National Jazz Festival. Her Northcote College band also won the big band prize.
Since then she has worked with Fat Freddy’s Drop and Trinity Roots, and has won multiple NZ music awards. She has also performed in Canada, the US and the UK.
Hollie is looking forward to returning to Tauranga at Easter, having lived here up until January.
“Dan Hayles and I have been putting together a set of jazz tracks that I did when I was younger and that I have always liked,” says Hollie.
“I’ve also been playing around with the idea of doing a jazz record, to reflect that era of my life, because I do love jazz.”
She had a rehearsal planned for early March, where the band would iron out the final list of songs to perform for the Tauranga audience.
“Just a few of my old favourites from when I was younger and some others,” says Hollie.
“It’s a one-off gig for the Tauranga Jazz Festival. I won’t be playing with this band again, so I’m looking forward to seeing how this comes together.”