While Smith continued performing and recording as a hobby, turning his voice into a career didn't seem like a possibility, he says. Stylistically, he was drawn to R&B at a time when Jackson only seemed interested in blues and gospel. Instead, he decided to attend Jackson State University to study marketing and graduated with a bachelor's degree in the field in 2004.
In January 2005, Smith moved to Los Angeles to work as a marketing manager for Nokia. Trevor Jennings, a fellow Jackson musician had moved to Los Angeles, too, and they began playing music together around town at showcases and jam sessions.
In 2008, they released the single "Midnight Dreams," which drew praise in the L.A. music scene.
That year, Smith lost his job, but rather than jumping back into the job market, he decided to pursue music full-time. Luckily, the choice turned out to be a good one.
In the past few years, he has performed alongside artists such as Grammy Award winners Seal, LeAnn Rimes and Franco de Vita, to name a few, while also releasing several collections of original music.
"It's been a total growth," Smith says. "I've become one of the more sought-after singers out here, doing shows and traveling, and recently, I played with Beyonce at the Grammys, just doing some background singing for her, so it's been a total change. If you would've told me I'd be at this point while I was in Mississippi, I wouldn't have believed it."
Smith is now writing songs for a full-length album, which he plans to record in 2017, but he still managed to release two new recording projects in July of this year—the classic-soul-inspired "Delta Soul" EP, an homage to his home state and his grandfather, Herman Johnson, and a single, "Let Freedom Ring," which he wrote following the police shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge.
In the midst of recording and performing as a solo artist and sideman, Smith is also devoted to spending time at home to raise his son, Hendrix Smith, with girlfriend Marisa Devonish. Even spread thin between his personal and professional lives, Smith says he is glad for every opportunity to develop as an artist.
"Fifty percent of the time, I'm in the air or on the road, and the other 50 percent of the time, I'm in L.A., so it's a well-balanced time," Smith says. "But you fall in love with (making music) every time you're about to leave. When you're doing it for yourself, it's your baby. You just want to cultivate it and help it grow, and you want to do as much as you can with it."
For more information, visit mauricesmithmusic.com.