“A legend is an old man with a cane known for what he used to do. I’m still doing it” – Miles Davis.
Miles Franklin Smith is an up-and-coming jazz musician in Columbus, Ohio. While he is very knowledgeable in a diverse range of music, his brilliance in jazz has launched him into a successful music career, a career which has included opportunities to play with influential musicians such as Darius Rucker, Joseph ‘Foley’ McCreary and Levi Kreis.
Smith is named after the legendary Miles Davis, who ultimately influenced his love for jazz due to the significance Davis posed in the jazz industry.
Smith’s love for jazz further stems from growing up in the world of music. It is thought that his parents knew he was going to be legendary not only because of his name but also because he was blessed with two fabulous musicians as parents.
Surrounded by his father, Mike Smith, playing the drums and his mother, Juliet White-Smith, on her viola, it seemed only natural that music would become a language and a form of communication for the family. Smith started his music career on the drums at 3 years old, progressing to the trumpet in middle school.
However, he humbly denies any pressure from his parents to pursue music. “My parents were very open in whatever we (he and his sister) wanted to pursue in a career, whether it was sports, journalism or music,” Smith said. “But they very much value where I am musically and they’re a big part of that.”
With the support of his talented family and his ever-growing confidence, drive and persistence within the community, Smith’s career undeniably fast-tracked. With over 11 years of practice on the trumpet, Smith has fallen into some incredible opportunities within the central Ohio community, such as working with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra.
Smith has also released a four-track extended play (EP) called “Green Street,” been accepted into graduate school at Northern Illinois University and is the manager of music at Adelaide’s Gin Joint.
However, early life in the music community did not come with the glory it does now. Smith recalls coming home from a particularly tough day at school and having a conversation with his father.
Smith’s heart-to-heart began with trying to grasp the concept of being different: “Why is it that I am the only one, out of the other kids, that’s into jazz?” He notes that at the time he did not recognize how mature his taste was, but it did not account for the fact that it was still a lonely time.
Smith admits the music industry is not for the weak; the success of a music career leaves little time for socialization.
“It’s always been tough, and it remains really hard to maintain that support,” he said. Smith recognizes that nobody’s at fault; like many other musicians like himself, it is difficult to support each other because they are always working. “I try my best to be there.”
As time passed, Smith’s community grew, and he found a support system emerging. He recalls how he keeps a stack of ‘thank you’ cards on his desk from performances to look back on.
“There’s a lot of people who are always supportive,” he said. “I must remind myself that there is support and that people are appreciative, even if it doesn’t feel like it.”
Furthermore, Smith shared the advice that it is important to remember we are all people, and we can only control and focus on ourselves.
Smith shared that someone who wants to pursue the entertainment industry must not get easily discouraged. Smith himself shares that he must remind himself of a classic value: patience is key.
Trying to live by this value is only part of Smith’s advice. He also advises people to get to know others and be in the right places. When these components merge, they provide some fantastic opportunities.
“You never know what is around the corner,” he said.
Smith’s journey, while not always endearing, best demonstrates the good, the bad and the ugly of what a musician may face. However, Smith’s perspective and advice offers comfort in one’s perseverance and resilience that resonates beyond the music industry.