Monica Pearson One on One: Mama Jan Smith

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Jan Smith is the voice behind many award-winning entertainers, including Justin Bieber and Usher.

Best known as Mama J or Mama Jan in the entertainment industry, Smith planned to be on stage and not behind the scenes.

“Both mom and dad have always been in church choirs growing up,” Smith told legendary Atlanta journalist Monica Pearson. “Before they had ministers of music, my dad he led the singing in small Southern Baptist churches. And so I got the influence from both of them and was the little kid tapping my black patten leather shoes together on the pews.”

Smith is a classically trained flutist of 16 years and played in school bands, with plans to be a singer-songwriter. But that wasn’t enough to pay the bills so she earned a psychology degree to pick up the slack.

“My daddy was really big on education and, and I appreciate that about him because it gave me the tools that I needed, to really navigate life and navigate people,” Smith said, who worked for the state of Georgia and ran a day program for disturbed adolescents.

Today, Jan Smith Studios has been around for more than 30 years and Smith has worked with hundreds of singers. Usher gave her the name, Mama Jan. She’s also worked with, and served as a vocal coach, for such stars as Justin Bieber. Her studio sees about 200 clients a week.

Billboard Magazine has described Smith as one of the top 100 women in the music industry.