On Saturday, Drae Smith, a Youngstown State University student, performed some of his hit songs at the University Pizzeria Italian Eatery along with Underground Pete and Yung Monsta.
Smith was not only the headliner, but he also coordinated the entire event, greeting guests as they entered UPIE. Usually playing with his band mates, Smith took the stage solo.
Smith, a marketing major who is entering his senior year at YSU, said he intends to continue his attempts in the music industry as well as his backup plan in marketing.
Despite his heavy focus on music, Smith obtains A’s in most of his classes. Smith said that he is confident about finals, even though the timing of this concert was so close to his exams.
Smith said he has been singing since he was four years old.
“My mom got me this fake guitar and microphone, and I would put on shows for everyone,” he laughed.
Smith went from singing in his living room and to anyone who would listen to opening for Wiz Khalifa and a crowd of nearly 3,000 people at the Covelli Centre only a few years ago.
Smith said that hearing the song “California Love” by Tupac sparked him to actually do something with his talents.
Acknowledging his appreciation for his fans and the opportunities he has been presented with, Smith said his main focus is branching his music further. In July, he plans to go to Houston to promote his music.
Smith said that he has made about a dozen albums over the years. He said that giving his CDs out for free hurts him because of the time and effort he has put into each one. However, he feels that no one wants to buy a CD of someone they don’t know.
“Drae puts on a great show. He’s a good friend, and I love to come see him when I can. What he does is motivation for people that think they are stuck here, because he’s really going somewhere,” senior Michael Ebie said.
Mark Melcionne, a non-student, attended the concert as well. He said that he came with a few friends from YSU to see local bands on a Saturday night out and that he enjoyed being able to drink a beer and hang out with some live entertainment in the background.
“I was really impressed by the talent here tonight. Everyone has opportunity, no matter where you come from, as long as you have talent, and I think they have it,” Melcionne said.
When Smith took the stage, most of the crowd rose from their seats or left the pool tables to crowd the stage.
“I feel like I have talent through repetition,” Smith said. “When I started rapping, I had no talent, and when people would say, ‘Wow you really have talent,’ I brushed it off until I deserved it.”
Smith’s music can be accessed at keepitmovin.org.