Specializes in: Drums
Kenny Smith was unquestionably born into blues royalty. He grew up in the same house where Muddy Waters once lived in Chicago, the home of the blues in the North. Throughout his childhood, Kenny was surrounded by Muddy and his friends, including his own father, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith (1936-2011). These same blues icons helped mold him into the person and drummer he is today and later in life asked him to provide his famous backbeat on some of the largest and most respected stages and recordings in the world. Kenny has played thousands of live performances to date and is a true gem amongst his peers and music lovers. His father, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, played drums for the Muddy Waters band in the early 1960’s and then again from 1968 through 1980 and was featured on all of Muddy’s Grammy-winning albums. Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith, one of the best known living blues drummers today, learned 99% of what he knows about drumming from his father and was also inspired by acclaimed drummers: Odie Payne, Fred Below, Earl Phillips, Ted Harvey, Louie Bellson, S.P. Leary, Francis Clay, Sam Lay, Art Blakey, Sonny Payne, Clifton James and many others who paved the way. And with those experiences, Kenny has revitalized and created new interpretations of the legendary blues drummers and modern drummers as he pushes blues drumming to new innovative and traditional styles.
Grammy Award Winner – Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith is also a world-famous, multi-award-winning blues drummer extraordinaire who in 2011 won a Grammy award for his remarkable work on Joined at The Hip with Pinetop Perkins and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. Kenny had the honor and privilege of contributing to that project through songwriting and drumming. He is delighted that his accomplishments and talents were recognized by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Honored all across the globe for his exceptional achievements, Kenny won the Living Blues awards for the most outstanding musician (drums) in 2008 (shared with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith), 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. In 2009, an album entitled “Chicago Blues: A Living History” on which Kenny recorded was nominated for a Grammy Award. This same album won Best Blues Album in 2009 by the Academie de Jazz de France. Kenny is an eleven-time nominee and a 2021 winner of the Blues Music Awards for Best Drummer by the Blues Foundation. He performed at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2008 with Koko Taylor and B.B. King during a tribute for actor Morgan Freeman. And in 2010, Kenny toured with the Taproot group and the U.S. State Department in Africa, where the group played for ambassadors, returnee/refugee camps and taught workshops to local musicians. Kenny’s also passionate about the Blues in the Schools program. He is spreading the Blues message by providing education to students both in the United States and internationally.
Learn more about Kenny on his website.