Laurel native Devin Smith will be taking the stage July 6 with some heavy-hitting company at the 25th Essence Festival in New Orleans.
A keyboard player with singer-songwriter ALX (aka Aaron Gregory) and also a drummer, Smith, 20, is appearing in a festival featuring performances by Missy Elliot, Mary J. Blige and Pharrell Williams. The festival headliner is former first lady Michelle Obama.
“I haven’t done anything at this level before,” said Smith, who graduated from Atholton High School in 2016. “I’ve only been doing this for a year and a half to two years. It is something I enjoy a lot.”
As a student at Berklee Popular Music Institute in Boston, Smith has been immersed in music programing, production and recording.
He met ALX, another Berklee student, when the two performed together as part of the school’s Bruno Mars Ensemble, a tribute band.
“I knew I wanted [Smith] to be in the band for Essence,” Gregory said. “Being in the Bruno Mars ensemble, I gained an appreciation for his musical talents. Being a drummer and a keyboard player says a lot.”