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.
|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
"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
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
years as music instructor at Community Museum of Brooklyn.
Harlem School of the Arts, NYC
The Third Street Music School Settlement
I am teaching, composing, practicing, arranging and performing music.