AJ Smith

NYU Steinhardt Songwriting Scholar Award, 2012

An explorer since a young age, one of AJ’s first musical experiences nearly gave his parents matching heart attacks. Somehow, at three-years-old, AJ had snuck out of the house to listen in on a piano recital at his godmother’s piano studio two houses down the street.  In order to discontinue these spontaneous escapades, it was decided that, for his safety, AJ needed to start taking piano lessons. Since then, AJ’s curious explorer has never slowed down, constantly trying out new instruments and taking on fresh challenges.

After attending the prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, AJ was presented with the Optical Society of America’s Achievement in Optics award and new paths to continue his education in physics and optics were highlighted in a nearly irresistible shade. But there was no doubt in AJ’s mind that music needed to be at the foreground of his college education so in the fall of 2009, AJ packed up his keyboard and began his studies at NYU Steinhardt as an undergraduate Music Theory/Composition student.

In NYU’s 2011 UltraViolet Live (UVL) talent competition, AJ was awarded best solo performance in the final round after improvising an entirely new song using a loop machine, audience voted genre specification, and three words from the judges. Since UVL, AJ has redoubled his focus on songwriting as a profession thanks to the guidance of his teacher, composer Herschel Garfein as well as songwriters Alex Forbes, Billy Seidman, and Phil Galdston. Whether inking in clever hip-hop rhymes or penning heart-wrenching blues melodies, AJ hopes to develop into an “any genre” professional songwriter and continue conversing with curiosity as he begins to enter into the fray of the music industry, once again feeling like a young explorer.

AJ is currently an undergraduate Music Composition major in NYU Steinhardt, who plans to enter the Masters Program in Songwriting and Film Scoring after graduation in 2013.