Soul search finds gold for Carmen Smith

DOOR JAM: Carmen Smith is coming to a stage near you. Picture: Ryan Pierse
DOOR JAM: Carmen Smith is coming to a stage near you. Picture: Ryan Pierse

SHE won over viewers on The Voice with powerful renditions of Prince and Rihanna songs.

Now Carmen Smith is out to prove herself as an original recording artist.

The soul singer from Sydney was approached by the show's producers to audition.

"I was 'Umming and ahhing' about it and then when they finally said 'You have to make a decision' I thought 'What the heck - I've worked for a long time in this industry, I'll just give it a go'," Smith said.

"So I approached the show like 'I'm just gonna take each round as it comes'."

Smith earned a spot on judge Joel Madden's team but was controversially booted out after Channel Nine decided she had obtained an unfair advantage by singing in the film clip for Guy Sebastian's single, Gold.

"After I got kicked off, I went straight back on tour with Guy, so I didn't really have that much time to feel sorry for myself," said Smith who has worked as a backing singer for Sebastian on-and-off since 2004.

"I just had to get straight back into work."

Smith also began developing a live show of her own to capitalise on the exposure she received from the show and asked Diana Rouvas, also a finalist on The Voice, to join her.

Like Smith, Rouvas has sang on Sydney's live soul scene for years but, their first encounter was on The Voice.

"I'd heard about this amazing singer and she heard the same about me," Smith said. "I finally met her on the show and I was like 'I've heard so much about you!' and we just became really, really good friends."

After a successful run of sold-out dates in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Newcastle late last year, Smith and Rouvas are touring the show again.

They perform solos and duets in 2 Voices, singing covers and originals in acoustic mode.

Despite national exposure on The Voice, Smith is aware she has to work hard to find an audience for her original music which she described as "kind of Janelle Monae, funk/soul".

"To get people actually out to see you, sometimes being on TV doesn't always translate to live gigs," she said.

"Putting these shows together has been really good because we didn't expect the response that we got and now we've been able to put on these extra shows.

"It's been so good to actually get up and sing our songs. A lot of people don't know us as original artists, they know us as what we did on the show."

Smith, 28, began performing professionally after completing high school and has written and produced a string of her own releases, including the latest single They Don't Know Me.

She has written songs for artists including Australian Idol contestants Casey Donovan and Ricki-Lee, and she has featured on records by Diesel and Thirsty Merc as well as Sebastian.

She plans to release a new single next month.


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