Lady Saba … Cincinnati’s Songstress of the Airwaves

September 24, 2011

Entertainment, Feature

By:  George Addison


 If you have anything really valuable to contribute to the world it will come through the expression of your own personality, that single spark of divinity that sets you off and makes you different from every other living creature.”

Bruce Fairchild Barton

1886 –1967

The above quote by American business executive and Congressman “Bruce Fairchild Barton,” accurately describes the spirit and personality of “Camille Saba Smith,” also known as “Lady Saba,” Cincinnati’s Midnight Songstress of WAIF 88.3 FM.  Her sultry, smooth and melodic toned voice encourages listeners of her weekly radio show to take a moment to relax, reflect and enjoy an eclectic mix of Jazz and other good vibe music. In addition she encourages them to be part of the solution to resolving many of the

Jazz Songstress Camille Saba Smith says she is inspired by the music of Ella Fitzgerald. Photo Courtesy: Camille Saba Smith

world’s challenges by doing their part.

We are living in an era where personality and fame have so many celebrities living lives of self-indulgence and personal tragedy.  It’s refreshing to find people that keep life in perspective and give back as much as they receive.  I had the pleasure of meeting and communicating with Lady Saba via Facebook nearly a year ago.

Since then, I have become a fan of her radio program and the community outreach she routinely provides; whether it’s teaching youth drumming techniques or singing for a community event.  She’s actively engaged in changing the world one person at a time.  I recently interviewed this multi-talented performance artist who sees herself as more than just a singer or air personality.  As any

Camille Saba Smith Performing with Saba Jazz. Photo Courtesy: Rene Micheo / renecho.net

friend of Saba will tell you, she always projects a spirit of peace and love in her daily dealings with all people.  The Cleveland, Ohio native feels that her interaction with people builds bridges of hope and harmony.

I asked Saba the meaning of her unique name and how it came about?  She replied, “I was never one to change my name, I was never one to shorten my name and all that kind of stuff.  It kind of came to me in a dream, and it means host of heaven and peace.  And it kind of stuck.  I do try to represent those very things, because I think the message and the antidote to most things in life is love!”

Saba genuinely believes that people get a lot more done with love than with negativity.  She credits her mother Mary Lou Thomas-Smith with instilling this healing and caring voice within her heart.  Adding, “I had an incredible mother, I have a great sister and a good family base.  We were raised up in faith, we learned a lot about different things, and mom was a person who taught us a lot about character building and what to do when you were alone, and not in front of an audience of people, despite who was looking at you.  She always said it does not matter who’s looking, GOD sees you.  She taught us a lot about doing the right thing.  Before she passed and left this earth, the last thing she said to me was to just be kind to people.  And I always remembered that.”

A typical day for Saba might range from people asking her to perform, checking her schedule, coordinating requests, filling in for other radio hosts, doing her show and providing listeners with great jazz, which is her true passion.  Saba says great jazz on the radio had all but disappeared in Cincinnati, and people have expressed their love and

Camille Saba Smith and Members of the MUSE Cincinnati Women"s Choir. Photo Courtesy: Camille Saba Smith

appreciation for what she brings them on WAIF 88.3 FM every Thursday from midnight to 2a.m.

Saba's Mentor and Friend the Legendary New Orleans Jazz Bassist Walter Payton, Photo Courtesy: Times-Picayune-nola.com Jr.

Saba also regularly performs with her band “Saba Jazz,” as well as with MUSE – Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir.  Saba has been associated with the choir for about ten years and considers them a true sisterhood of social activist spreading the message of peace and social change.  MUSE has been featured in a PBS documentary and travels extensively inside and outside of the U.S.

Saba said her mom was not in the entertainment industry, but when she and her siblings got together they all could carry a tune.

However, she was the one to take it a little more serious.  Her mom often reminded her that when she was an infant she would lay her down by the radio and play music to calm her.  Saba jokingly recalls, they were not the Jackson’s, but her father Louis C. Smith also known as “LC” said his father sang the blues, and she falls somewhere in that DNA mix.

Hyde Park Jam Session with (left to right) Melonie Joya Davis-Kennedy, Camille Saba Smith, Danny Berton and Victor Smith. Photo Courtesy: Camille Saba Smith

Jazz music is at her core, but she loves all musical genres from opera to bluegrass.  She loves Ella Fitzgerald and has been singing professionally since her teen years, sharing the stage with the likes of Teddy Pendergrass.  Great jazz musicians like her mentor and friend Walter Payton of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band of New Orleans have inspired Saba.  The father of Nicholas Payton renowned jazz

Jazz musician Nicholas Payton continues the family legacy. Photo Courtesy: nicholaspayton.com

trumpeter introduced himself during one of her performances and a mutual respect and friendship was born.  Walter Payton passed away in October of 2010, but Saba often remembers his kindness and encouragement.  Saba adds, “ I love people and I enjoy learning about different cultures, learning what they eat, how they love, who their friends are, and learning how I fit into all of that.”

Saba says she loves radio and believes the work she does on WAIF 88.3 FM allows her to communicate her love of jazz and community to her listeners.  She welcomes one and all to tune in weekly and download her program audio stream on the Internet.

 

 

 

Other Links of Interest:

 http://www.musechoir.org/

 http://www.nola.com/music/index.ssf/2010/10/walter_payton_longtime_new_orl.html

 http://www.nicholaspayton.com/about.html

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One Comment on “Lady Saba … Cincinnati’s Songstress of the Airwaves”

  1. ANGIE LINDSEY Says:

    I’VE HAD THE PLEASURE OF KNOWING LADY SABA FOR OVER 20 YEARS. SHE HAS BEEN A MENTOR AND A TRUE FRIEND. AS I READ THIS ARTICLE I CAN’T HELP BUT TO THINK BACK ON OUR FRIENDSHIP AND HOW SHE LIVES HER LIFE. MR. GEORGE ADDISON COULDN’T HAVE WRITTEN A MORE TRUTHFUL ARTICLE. LADY SABA IS AN ANOINTED SONGSTRESS WITH A VOICE THAT WILL COMMAND THE WIND TO STAND STILL. TRULY BLESS BY GOD IN TALENT BUT ALSO A LOVER OF PEOPLE. ALL THOSE WHO KNOW HER HAVE EXPERIENCED TRUE FRIENDSHIP,KINDNESS,LOVE AND OF COURSE THE PLEASURE OF LISTENING TO A VOICE LIKE THAT OF A MOCKINGBIRD.

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