the traveler's resource guide to festivals & films
a site
part of Insider Media llc.

Connect with us:

Musician Grant Maloy Smith and the Indie Collaborative Bring Their Holiday Show to NYC


Event: The Indie Collaborative Holiday Show
Who: The Independent Collaborative
When: December 4th, 2023
Where: the Green Room 42 in The Yotel Hotel
Address: 570 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036

With the Indie Collaborative returning to New York City, Monday, December 4th, to celebrate the holiday season in grand musical style, it seemed like a good time to interview co-founder Grant Maloy Smith. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, he started playing The Beatles songs on guitar as a kid. Later, he attended the Rhode Island School of Design but opted to focus on music He attended the Rhode Island School of Design but didn't complete his tenure there. Later, Smith joined the Songwriters Guild of America, attending song pitching meetings at their Hollywood offices. After returning to Rhode Island in ’95, the singer/songwriter began scoring indie films, including "Code Of Ethics" starring Academy Award-winning Melissa Leo. He also scored "Pray for Power," and worked frequently with other notes directors. But he had other aspirations.

In 2015, with Emmy Award® winning writer and producer Eileen Sherman, Smith co-founded “THE IC. ” The group boasts a distinguished assemblage of over 2000 independent artists, many of whom are Grammy, Emmy, Tony, and music chart toppers from around the globe. The two conceived the idea of an arts organization that would foster unique and exciting collaborations (crossing genres and continents) while forging lifelong friendships.

Their holiday spectacular -- staged at The Green Room 42 (in The Yotel, 570 10th Av.) -- includes a cast of award-winning artists from the Classical, Broadway, American Roots, Jazz, and Global Music worlds will take the stage to honor Hanukkah, Christmas, Diwali, Kwanzaa, and the Winter Solstice in song and dance, beginning at 7 pm.

Q: Let's start with a review of your activities over the year.

GM: Before we get into my story, here's a recap of IC activities this year.

In February 2023, we put on a sold out show in North Hollywood featuring more than 12 IC members who were Grammy nominees and/or winners in the 65th Grammys. These Grammy® Nominated artists included The Alphabet Rockers, Arturo O'Farrill, Austin Wintory, Cheryl B. Engelhardt, Kit Wakeley, Mak Grgic, MASA, Matt B and Eddie Kenzo, Neave Trio, Paul Avgerinos, SaulPaul, Seunghee "Sunny" Lee, Wendy and DB, Wouter Kellerman, Opium Moon (previous Grammy winners).

In the Summer, July 2023, we did our first show outside of the USA, in Newcastle, England. IC members from the USA flew over to perform with English IC members. On the stage were Alex Otey, Christina Tourin, Dean James, Ed Bazel, Grant Maloy Smith, Ian Hamilton, John Dawson, James Ward, Judy Pancoast, Kris “Halo” Pierce, Lawrence Hancock; Leti Garza; Lynn Yew Evers; Mick Hume; Noshir Mody; Stevie Hutch; Trevor Brewis; Trevor Sewell.

indie showThis month of December 2023, we are putting on our second holiday musical celebration on December 4th, in the Green Room /42, following on the one that we did in 2022 at Lincoln Center. The concert features these IC artists: Charu Suri, Hershel Garfein, The Bluestone Sisters, Yocontalie, Alex Otey, Grant Maloy Smith, Connor Chee, Elaine Romanelli , Herschel Garfein, Sophie Shao, Ryan VanDenBoom, The Jennifer Tibbets Singers, Noshir Mody, Jeane Carno-Rosenberg, Thomas Hutchings, Mowgli, Jerome Brooks, Jr., Ricky Persaud, Jr., Valerie Persaud, and Jeanne Rose.

This is all-faiths event includes celebrations of the major holidays with a cast representing each: Christmas -- Grant Maloy Smith and Elaine Romanelli; Hanukkah -- Ryan VanDenBoom; Kwanzaa-- Yocontalie; New Year -- Hershel Garfein with Sophie ShaoWinter; Solstice -- Navajo pianist Connor Chee; Diwali -- Falu Shah and Noshir Mody. And, despite the fact that "Festivus is for the rest of us," the venue has a strict policy about poles on the stage or in the audience, so we were unable to accommodate that one.

Most members join because one or more of their musician colleagues recommended that they join. The word of mouth happens both because of the shows that we put on, as well as our social media presence. We have an official website at as well as a public Facebook page. We also have a private Facebook group which is exclusively for those who have joined us officially using the form on our website. It is free to join the IC, to be a member and to have your artist profile on our website. At this point, we have more than 1200 of our members’ profiles on our website at:

Although we began as a place where independent musicians could support each other and find collaborations with each other, we have grown since 2015 to include all manner of creative professionals, including writers, artists, dancers, comedians, actors, actresses, as well as industry people like managers, promoters and more. We are starting to plan our activities for 2024 now, and have some good ideas in the works. Nothing is ready to be announced quite yet, but this’ll happen early next year.

Q: As for yourself, What do you prefer, writing and performing your own songs or writing for and with others?

GM: My main preference is to write and perform my own songs, however I do enjoy it when other artists cover my songs. It’s really gratifying to hear how they interpret them. A few years ago one of my songs, “I Reckon,” was covered by Texas Country singer Jeff Clayborn. The song actually made it onto the MusicRow Country Breakout charts. Recently vocalist Jeff Hyman covered several of my Americana songs, “Boone’s Five and Dime” and “The Red-haired Girl from Hazard" on his new album entitled LEGACY, and Scottish singer/songwriter Ian Bruce and I did a duet of my song “And The Angels Sang Along” on his new album TOGETHER FOREVER.  There’s something very nice about hearing those versions from other artists. But I suppose that my abiding passion is crafting my own songs and then bringing them to life both as recordings and in the form of live performances. There’s nothing else quite like seeing the emotional reactions that they evoke from the audience.

I also do a lot of producing lately, and that’s also quite fulfilling. I have produced several songs for marimba player and percussionist Kevin Lucas, and we collaborated on the performance of them. Our most recent song was a completely new arrangement of the 1700s folk song “Scarborough Fair,” made famous in the late 1960s by Simon and Garfunkel. We recreated it in a unique way, and then shot an amazing-looking video on the rocks overlooking Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay. You can see the video here:

Q: I think of your core music as country-tinged, maybe americana. How do you view your style or approach?

GM: In terms of style, I believe that I fit best in the Americana (aka American Roots) genre, because while I do sometimes write straight-up Country songs, like “I Reckon” mentioned above, most of my songs are Country-tinged Folk. I definitely don’t write today’s incarnation of Country music - it’s not my generation. I create theme albums that are based in history, like my albums about the Dust Bowl, Appalachia, and coming in 2024, the Mississippi River. I did years of research to create these albums, and each song is connected to some part of that history. These are not songs about whiskey glasses and barstools. There’s nothing wrong with those kinds of songs, but it’s not what I do. Sure, I like to write simpler, fun songs, but it’s more as a break from the concentrated work I do on my theme records. That’s where my heart and head really are. 

Q: How has your song writing evolved as of late?

GM: Last year at this time I released my first ever Christmas album, "The Christmas Heart: Roots Music For The Holidays." The creation of this album had a major impact on my songwriting because I wanted to reinvent classic Christmas songs in a variety of styles, from R&B to jazz. My dominant genre is Americana, which is like folk music lyrically set to a “rootsy" country feel. Even non-musicians have the sense that today’s Pop and Country music have pretty similar and simple harmonization, i.e., the chords that support the melody. The old joke says that pop (and country) bands play three chords in front of 30,000 people, while Jazz bands play 30,000 chords in front of three people. Not having been trained in Jazz harmonization theory, creating true Jazz arrangements for songs like “Silent Night” and “In The Bleak Midwinter” was a heavy task for me. But I dug into the theory and did lots of experimentation in order to accomplish it. Those two songs are actually among my favorites on the album, and I am performing them at the Indie Collaborative holiday celebration backed up by some great Jazz musicians. This exercise had a big effect on my songwriting, since I now have a deeper understanding of the power of harmonization, and how to go beyond the usual chord patterns and circles of fifths that dominate most genres. 

Q: Talk about some recent performances -- places, new collaborations and so on.

GM: Another big influence on me has been collaborating with Kevin Lucas, a classically trained marimba player and percussionist. As previously mentioned, we created a unique arrangement of “Scarborough Fair.” It was entered in the Grammys this year in the best arrangement category, which I am very proud about. It’s critical for songwriters and arrangers to go outside their comfort zones and bring new harmonizations and rhythms to their work. That’s what keeps us fresh and growing as music creators. Not every experiment will be a raging success, but the process itself broadens us and makes us better.

Q: How do the musicians get selected for the show?

GM: The Indie Collaborative puts on two kinds of shows. Showcases are very much like an “open mic” for our members. Each artist gets to come up and perform a song in a stripped down intimate way, because there is no time for big bands or elaborate setups. Members sign up ahead of time. If there are too many to fit in the 3 hour timespan we use a lottery system to choose about 20 of them. We have no idea what they’re going to play -- they can do whatever they like, and which best represents their essence as an artist, writer, performer, or all of the above. 

The other kind of show that we put on are productions. These have a theme chosen by Eileen and me. Lately we have been doing holiday themed shows, such as in 2018 and the 2022 Earth Day shows at Carnegie Hall. We did Winter holiday shows in 2021 at Lincoln Center, and now at the Green Room 42 this year. Eileen and I choose the artists very carefully, because there are a lot of overlapping criteria. First, the artist needs to have material that matches the theme of the show. Once we have assembled a potential cast we narrow it down based on creating a diverse range of musical genres. We also try very hard to feature those who haven’t performed in one of our productions before. In addition to the featured performers we enlist some of our members to back up the featured artists. This is why we strongly suggest to our members to take part in the showcases - this is where Eileen and I will see and hear what they can do with an eye toward being selected for a future production show. 

Q: Do you intend to put out recordings from the show?

GM: This is not in the plan at this time.

Q: What are your favorite moments over the years?

GM: It’s hard to narrow them down because there have been so many in the course of 21 events over eight years (The Green Room 42 holiday show is our 22nd event). Our very first showcase in June 2015 at the Drama League in NYC was unforgettable because Eileen and I had no idea if anyone would even show up. We had just created and named the Indie Collaborative weeks earlier, and put the word out about our first event. We were amazed at how many artists showed up and performed. Jazz saxophonist Thomas Hutchings rocked the house with his trio. Coincidentally, he is performing in Event 22, accompanying me on several Christmas standards that I arranged as Jazz songs for my recent Christmas album. Violinist Kelli Hall-Tompkins slayed the room with her brilliant, animated playing. Looking at earliest events we had many artists who hadn’t won their Grammy nominations or awards yet, but they would, like Paul Avgerinos, Jeff Oster, Wouter Kellerman, SaulPaul, Ted Nash, Herschel Garfein, Gregorio Uribe, Wendy and DB, and many more. Personally, it was probably walking out onto the Carnegie Hall stage for the first time, back in November of 2018. That was really a thrill, and I am so glad that the IC could provide that opportunity for many of the members in the two shows that we have done there. And in general I have been lucky enough as the emcee to be standing in the wings and seeing so many amazing performances over the years from brilliant musicians and performers. Seeing New York’s own Wild Child Keith Middleton (STOMP!) Dancing and singing up close is a miracle. Or feeling the vibrations in the floor from genius pianists like Sophia Agranovich, Lynn Yew Evers, Tania Stavreva, Nadia Shpachenko, Catherine Marie Charlton and more. One night at the Bitter End Sax player Lou Caimano did a solo that just about tore the roof off the building -- that was Event 15 back in 2019 and I can still hear it. We did our first event outside the USA this year, in Newcastle, England. UK Blues master guitarist Trevor Sewell brought the house down. 

What I love the most, however, is the sheer variety of music that we host. Those who were old enough in the 1960s remember TV variety shows like The Ed Sullivan Show. In a single show he would present a popular band for the young people, a comedian followed by a serious opera singer for the older crowd, a talking mouse puppet for the little kids, a guy spinning plates like a madman, and so on. Our shows are predominately music, but we endeavor to present the same depth and breadth of variety. The IC has more than 2000 members scattered all around the globe, and we represent every genre of music from Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. You don’t have to be a Grammy winner or Billboard charting artist to be a member of the IC. We encourage entertainment professionals at all stages of their careers to join us on our website. Beginners will have the chance to interact with and learn from those farther up the ladder. We don’t have any competitions or awards because we want the IC to foster collaborations, cooperation and mutual support. You can see that and feel it when you come to one of our shows.

Newsletter Sign Up

Upcoming Events

No Calendar Events Found or Calendar not set to Public.