LT Smooth

Melissa Moniz
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Friday - September 21, 2007

It’s a great moment in life when someone touches your heart. I was lucky enough to experience two of those moments recently - once when interviewing LT Smooth and a second when listening to his album.

Not only is LT Smooth an amazing person with an equally amazing story, he also has amazing talent. His album, Freedom, which releases Sept. 20 is an intimate storybook of his life, which was once filled with drug use and homelessness from the age of 10. The album includes a number of refreshing remakes of classics such as Sweet Lady of Waiahole, Somewhere Over The Rainbow and I Still Haven’t Found.

“Some of the songs, when I sing it now I cry,” says LT Smooth, a New Zealand native who now lives in Kona on the Big Island.“Back then I don’t cry because there’s no such thing as crying in my world. But you know what? Changes. In every big man there’s a boy still. Whenever I sing the songs it takes me back to when I was on the streets at 11, 12, 13 years old dying to drink something, and the only way I could do that was steal or break into someone’s house so I could be warm. Unless you lived it, it’s very hard to explain, but the way that I can explain is through my music and through my songs.”

Following the death of his father, LT Smooth spent most of his childhood and teenage years on the streets and in and out of prison. At 17, LT Smooth discovered a new beginning at a nuns’ convent where he learned that he had a reason to want to live.

“This album has to do with hope and that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” says LT Smooth.“It’s about don’t ever give up because if I can do it, I’m pretty sure you can too. And for me it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. It’s not about how many albums I make, it’s about the message that I want to get across. Out of the whole album, there may be a song that can relate to your life, and if you can be touched with that, that is more than anything that anyone can ever offer me.”

At 27, LT Smooth moved with his wife to her hometown in Kona and has since been performing along the island’s west coast.

There he met Donald Kaulia, a Waianae boy who moved to Kona five years ago, who is also releasing an album, Sweet Wahine, on Sept. 20. The album features several classic slack key tunes and original Hawaiians songs that Kaulia describes as “experimenting that takes slack key to the next level.”

Their identical release dates are no coincidence - the two are great friends who share the stage together at weekly gigs and also made guest appearances on each other’s albums. In fact, Kaulia and LT Smooth are celebrating the release of their albums together Sept. 26 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Ala Moana Hotel’s Pakele Lounge.

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