Born and raised in Berkeley, CA., Shirley A. Johnson-Smallwood started out training and performing classical music both vocals and violin from elementary through high school. Her bother gave her Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn albums as birthday gifts and she instantly got hooked.
Smallwood has performed with many groups as either a featured vocalist or back-up vocalist with Yancy Taylor Quartet, EC Scott and Smoke, BedRock, and Soundwave. She as done numerous TV, film, and voice-over projects which includes Tiger Balm radio spots as Jerry Rice's mother, music videos with New Power Generation (The Artist Know as Prince's band), the rapper Paris, educational videos on spousal abuse, safety, role models for children, and The Little Rock 9.
Smallwood wrote and sang the Italian aria for the independent film "Zoli's Brain", produced and directed by Tiffany Schwalain. "Zoli's Brain" premiered at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. She co-stared as Brenda in "She's Got Next", produced and directed by Tricia C. Valencia of Flaca Films. Smallwood selected and performed all the music for Mike and Jeff Nishimura's play "Avenues". She co-starred in two productions at the New Conservatory Theater, "The Last Session" as Tryshia the Diva and the legendary Bricktop in "Red, Hot, and Cole". She played Sister Mary Hubert in Dan Groggins' "Messhuga Nuns" at the Pacifica Repertory Theater in
Carmel, CA. Smallwood played the Courtesan in the musical version of "A Comedy of Errors at the Marin Shakespeare Theatre and understudied the character Beatrice in "The House that Will Not Stand" at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and played the Fairy Godmother in "Shrek the Musical" at the Berkeley Playhouse Theatre.
Smallwood received her BA in Music from Holy Names College and is a proud member of Theatre Bay Area.
Unique traits: Accomplished vocalist specializing in jazz, pop, classical, R&B, musical theater, and voiceover actor.
Holy Names University (Oakland, CA)