THE TESTIMONIAL BIO OF P
Pernel Wilberforce Smith, Jr. is an American recording artist, inspirational producer, and a non-profit entrepreneur. As one-half of the gospel duo, The BlackLoveSmiths, Pernel is best known as P. Smith Jr., the producer/husband of Joanna “Jo” Smith- the group’s lead singer.
Born in 1988 on October 7th, P’s mother Audrey Adams- a Paterson, New Jersey detective- gave birth to identical twin boys. The complications in her delivery caused her first-born son to become ill at birth. The twins’ father, Pernel W. Smith Sr., feared that he would not leave the hospital with two children.
So, in a modern twist on the biblical tale of Jacob and Esau, Pernel who was actually born a minute after his brother, was given his father’s name. Thus, blessing his second son as his junior, rather than the first. However, a few weeks later, P’s older twin brother pulled through his traumatic ailments, and was reunited from the hospital to his family. With the welcoming of Bernel to their home, the Smith Twins began their brotherhood.
As children, Bernel Smith and Pernel Smith, Jr. spent a significant amount of time, surrounded by a large family who struggled to tell them apart. The two were often recalled as an inseparable pair.
This was true, until it was time to choose a high school for the boys. Both brothers were talented in the performance arts, but it was Pernel who had developed into a gifted musician, seemingly out of nowhere. While no one in their immediate family played an instrument or sang, P seemed to have an ear for the most euphonic sounds, naturally. Perhaps, his father’s DJ’ing and those musical soundscapes his mother played him in the womb stuck with him.
Whatever the reason his knack for music was attributed to, P was selected to attend the Rosa L. Parks High School for Fine and Performing Arts, while his brother attended high school elsewhere. It was in high school, that Pernel was trained as a saxophone player, following Kenny G closely, for inspiration.
Being in the school band helped P develop his unique three-part production sound, comprised of soundscapes, smooth jazz, and dance vibrations, in equal measure. His desire is to create Gospel music that could double as a film score before lyrics are added. This passion was birthed while practicing for school concerts. Perhaps, the cathedral sounds of his Saturday church visits added to his unique production aesthetic.
P’s godfather, Roy Davis, was an elder in the Seventh Day Adventist Church, in Paterson. As part of his godparenting duties, he felt it necessary to give his godsons a solid Christian upbringing. In the absence of an excessive workaholic, Roy stepped into a fatherly role in P’s life. He taught him how to pray, how to sing praises to God, and how to study the Bible. It was in The SDA Organization that P developed a true passion for who God is and a keen adoration for gospel music. So much so, that P taught himself to play piano and guitar to further develop his individual praise and worship.
The epitome of a church boy, P rarely got into any mischief, as a teen. True to the middle child stereotype, he always felt self-sufficient, and was a bit of a loner, socially. Outside of his constant appearances with his brother, P’s church life isolated him from a great majority of youth, and he became deeply shy as an adolescent. His bashful nature remained with him throughout his early adult years, as well.
With church deeply imbedded into his character, P struggled after high school to have the “fun” most teens and young adults have. All of his friends were his family and church members, but not all of them were committed to sexual abstinence until marriage, like he was. As a result, P was branded with a spotless image that he would resent most, when the invitations to parties usually excluded him.
This lack of a wild side created even more of an isolated space for P, and he became anxious about being alone. Yet, it was in his alone time that music flourished well, for him. Still, P craved community. So, he began to put more effort into blending in, socially. It did not end well.
On a family vacation, in 2010, P tried to release a little bit of his self-discipline, to party with his brother and cousins, in Jamaica. Prior to this, he’d become a “social drinker”, and it worked well for his attempts to fit in. He began to come out of his shell a little. However, this decision to drink when his friends were near, eventually led to the most shameful moment of his life, the loss of his virginity in a Jamaican nightclub that year. P. Smith, Jr. was so inebriated, he still is unable to fully recall much about the one thing he had treasured and planned to save for his bride.
In hindsight, P believes that God kept him from the full experience of this mistake, out of His abundant mercy. Perhaps, God knew the shame would be enough to gain P’s undivided attention, moving forward. For, it was this acknowledgement of God’s covering over P’s life that led him to rededicate his body to God. After this horrible low, he vowed to abstain for the next twelve years, until he married Joanna “Rain” Raphael of 106 & Park Wild Out Wednesday and Sincerely, Rain Raphael social media acclaim.
The two met in 2017, as Joanna (Jo) accepted the Sadie-Hawkins-Style, social media challenge for women in September, to Take A Man Out. Though they were from vastly different life experiences, P and Jo shared a common interest in pleasing God (as best they could) and creating music. In fact, it was through Jo’s unique relationship with God, that P’s traditional church views were challenged, but in a way that he enjoyed.
Jo was a single mother of one, and this posed an issue for P, at first. Yet, their friendship showed P how the SDA Organization restricted his freedoms with so many things, and especially with God. In an effort to present himself holy and acceptable unto the Lord, he had become less forgiving and a bit judgmental.
Yet, around Jo, P quickly began to see that the things he was taught about God were all funneled through man-made constructs that were not always indicative of God’s love. His wife had a messy, unadulterated praise, and her relationship with The Creator felt so much freer and more inviting than the church he was associated with. There was zero condemnation in her understanding of God.
As the friendship with Jo grew, P’s love of God was reignited. He refreshed his faith in a new way and served with a more joyful heart. As Jo became P.’s closest friend, the two began to fall in-love with each other.
At a height in their emotional attachment to each other, P was arrested and sentenced to five days in a Virginia prison, for what the city of Paterson may have called a moving violation. In the Silk City of New Jersey P. could drive at over ninety miles an hour on a late-night deserted highway and perhaps, receive a $300 citation. However, in the state of Virginia, he had committed a felony, and a few months before his thirtieth birthday, he had acquired a criminal record.
For his first and only infraction to be treated with such severity, P feels that God sent him to prison to win the soul of his cellmate. The experience also revealed to him the treasure in his future wife’s troubled past. A past, that the church would have had P dismiss Jo for, had given her the tools to be a peaceful support beam in the midst of his greatest storm. She knew exactly what to do for him while incarcerated, because she had done it for others.
After P’s run-in with the law, he realized that jail-time is inevitable for most young men of color. If a church boy with no prior record and few notable character blemishes could be arrested, sentenced, and jailed, for lack of knowledge, then so many melanated men, with more complications than he, stood little chance at avoiding this fate. P believes the youth will be oppressed, simply because they are not exposed to enough, outside of their comfort zone, to be aware of possibilities or consequences. The most detrimental experience that the youth face today, P believes, is a lack of opportunities to get to know God in an authentic way.
Inspired by their experiences, P and Jo are committed to exposing more church-less souls to God’s love. The BlackLoveSmiths was formed as a change vehicle for this desire.
True to a great love story, P proposed to Jo on his thirty-first birthday, while on vacation in Cancun, just over a year after his release from prison. Their relationship had become long-distance for eight months, during that time, because Jo and her son, Legend, moved to Arizona to care for a sick relative.
After the proposal, things went south in Arizona. So, The BlackLoveSmiths moved to Hartford, CT just before the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Pernel and Joanna were married three months later in a Somerville, New Jersey park, with forty guests in attendance. About half of the witnesses were their twelve godchildren.
Their union was the proof that P had kept his 2010 promise to God. He and Jo abstained until married. God has been blessing them, both, ever since.
Today, The BlackLoveSmiths seek to bring something new to gospel, through spiritual approachability. The duo believes that authenticity and vulnerability are a wonderful recipe for a successful ministry, and they are targeting a unique set of listeners with their sound.
Inspired by the pianists Dan Gibson, Ludovico Einaudi, and the jazz sound of The Pat Metheny Group, P Smith Jr. is calling all the stargazers and dreamers of the world, to have a listen to The BlackLoveSmiths’ first album, entitled The Work.
Debuting as their one-year anniversary present to God, the duo will release seven songs on September 22, 2021. With Jo’s relatable approach to music lyrics, P is planning to sit his sky-watchers right next to his wife’s audience of apologetic backsliders, disfellowshipped church members, and all the curious truth seekers of the world. Thus, unveiling the work it takes to love, unconditionally.
The BlackLoveSmiths’ sound is for the people of God who don’t realize His grace extends to them. P hopes that with each song they pen for this journey, the BlackLoveSmiths’ audience, affectionately called “The LoveSmiths”, will be reminded that they were each created for a purpose, and if they seek their Creator, they’ll become it. He hopes that God will get the glory when they do.