John “Jubu” Smith has worked as a sideman for 41 of his 45 years, beginning as a harmony vocalist in his father’s Oakland gospel quartet before adding bass, then guitar, to his responsibilities in the group. At 19, he began playing guitar for the Oakland R&B band Tony Toni Toné, whose front man, Raphael Saadiq, he’d known since both were kids playing on the local quartet circuit.
Smith spent a decade with the Tonies before going on the road for a year and a half with Whitney Houston. For the past 15 years, he’s been touring internationally eight months per year, primarily on weekends, with Maze, featuring Frankie Beverly. Those credits don’t include countless recording sessions with the likes of Luther Vandross, Mary J. Blige, Boyz II Men, Toni Braxton, George Duke and George Benson.
Jubu, who moved from Los Angeles to Atlanta two years ago with his wife and three children, is establishing himself as the front man of his own soul-blues band, Legally Blynd, a sextet that includes his brother Eric “Pik Funk” Smith (Rihanna’s bassist for the past eight years) and others who work as sidemen for Stevie Wonder and Saadiq. He’s cut way back on doing sessions, although he has recorded during the past year with Eric Benet, K. Michelle.
Blynd - Sunshine In Your Eyes: