William E. Smith holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Maryland, a MM in jazz composition and a BM in jazz studies from Howard University. With education and performance as his focal points, Smith is the Music Industry Coordinator at North Carolina Central University where he teaches courses on music industry, management and hip hop history. He was also an assistant professor of music at American University where he taught courses in jazz history, rock history, music appreciation and conducted the American University Jazz Ensemble.
He is a frequent lecturer and clinician in jazz, hip hop, and the music industry. His dissertation on hip hop and its relationship with performance and ritual was completed with fellowship assistance from the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the African Diaspora. He published this ethnographic text in his new book, "Hip Hop as Performance and Ritual: Biography and Ethnography in Underground Hip Hop."
As a performer, he has performed and recorded with many ensembles in a variety of genres, and has led his own traditional jazz group, the W.E.S. Group, for thirteen years. The group has recorded four albums including A Jazz Mass, an original composition of the Episcopal and Catholic liturgy in a lush jazz arrangement. Their latest recording, Ancestors was released November 2006 and they just recently went on a Caribbean tour performing at the St. Lucia, Bonaire, and Anguilla Jazz Festivals.
Some of the individuals he has performed or recorded with include: James Moody, Donald Byrd, Kenny Burrell, Wynton Marsalis, Jon Hendricks, Larry Ridley, David Baker, Fred Hammond, Hezekiah Walker, Cynda Williams and Malcolm Jamal-Warner. Dr. Smith also composes music for documentaries and film. He composed music for a PBS documentary entitled Across the River (a documentary on the community in Anacostia, southeast Washington, DC) and for several independent films: The Green Line, Search for Osun, Finally Sayin What I Really Mean
In 2007 Dr. Smith was elected DC Chapter president of the IAJE (International Association for Jazz Education) and he was also elected as a board member to the DC Chapter of NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Grammy Foundation).
Dr. Smith is also president and founder of the IAHHE (International Association for Hip Hop Education) and the BE Community Foundation. Through the IAHHE he has held teacher-training workshops at the National Music Center in Washington, DC and successfully integrated a hip hop curriculum into the Friendship Public Charter Schools summer and after school program. Through the BE Community Foundation he is directing a summer music camp in Anguilla, West Indies and in Asheboro and Randleman, NC.
Through performance and education Dr. William E. Smith endeavors to inspire as well as enlighten audiences with an awareness and enjoyment of music and the arts, that brings people together and can last for generations.