Pianist ~ Arranger ~ Composer ~ Educator

bio | influences | media | compositions | cds | teaching

A classically trained pianist, Sonelius was born in Hillhouse, Mississippi. His first musical life was in family life, singing and playing by ear. After moving to Memphis, Tennessee, formal study began at age 9, with Miss Helen West, then with Mr. Omar Robinson. After high school he received a music scholarship to Arkansas AM&N College, now University of Arkansas in Pine Bluff, studying piano and theory with Josephus Robinson. Upon graduation Sonelius toured Europe with The New Directions, featuring John Stubblefield, James Leary, Larry Ross and Benjamin Jones. He then moved to New York.

Sonelius's first gig in New York City was with Rashid Ali's jazz quartet for Jazz Mobile. Sonelius worked on compositions and arrangements with Bob Crewe for his company Saturday Music. He toured the United States in a year-long tour with Rahsaan Roland Kirk and worked with him on recording Blacknuss, Rahsaan Rahsaan and Black Inventions Strata 1.

Sonelius has freelanced with Frank Foster, Archie Shepp, Lionel Hampton, the Piano Choir, Robin Kenyatta, David Murray, Andrew Cyrille, and many others.

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INFLUENCES Ramsey Lewis, Ahmad Jamal, Phineus Newborn, Bud Powell, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Glen Gould, Vladimir Horowitz and many others of the jazz and classical world.

The Ed Sullivan Show with Rahsaan Roland Kirk

The Today Show with Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Black News with the New Directions

Documentary with Archie Shepp for Italian Television

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"The Need to Smile" recorded by Ahmad Jamal for Motown

"Essay" and "Sanctum Sanctorium for Seven Pianos" recorded by

The Piano Choir for Strata East

"Mellow in the Park" recorded by Robin Kenyatta for Atlantic Records

"The Need to Smile" recorded by Robin Kenyatta for Atlantic Records

"Conversation Piece" recorded by Quartette Indigo for Savant Records

"The World of the Children" recorded by Shamek Farrah for Strata East


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Blacknuss Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Rahsaan Rahsaan Strata 1 Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Stomping at the Savoy Robin Kenyatta

The Navigator Andre Cyrille

The World of the Children Shamek Farrah, Sonelius Smith

Body and Soul David Murray

New York Dances Jack Jeffers

First Impressions Shamek Farrah

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Five years as music instructor at Community Museum of Brooklyn.
Three years as private piano instructor at Education Unlimited.
Ten years as private instructor of piano, theory, and vocal coaching consultant.

Founding Director of the New York Jazz Philharmonic — a large symphonic jazz orchestra

I teach piano at:

Harlem School of the Arts, NYC

The Third Street Music School Settlement



I am teaching, composing, practicing, arranging and performing music.

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