BEHIND THE MUSIC
Tongela “ Tongie” Smith
Psalmist, Preacher, Teacher, Mentor, Business Owner, Wife, Mother and Author. She is American-born singer from Niagara Falls, New York. At the early age of 8 years old, Tongie was inspired to sing by her mother, Jackie (Milton) Graham, who once secured a singing contract with Columbia Records. Tongie and her sisters began singing in church at six years old. Tongie continued her love for singing into her teenage years and started singing with friends in a local band in her hometown of Niagara Falls. During a performance, Tongie’s godfather, the musical director of the James Brown Band, Mr. Ronald Laster, asked her to audition to sing back up for the godfather of soul, James Brown. Of course, after a successful
audition Tongie landed the position as the youngest background singer to
ever sing with the James Brown band at the age of 18. This was a groundbreaking opportunity immediately after the audition Tongie started traveling with James Brown.