Lani Smith earned Bachelor and Master degrees in composition from the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati. From 1967 to 1982 Mr. Smith was a member of the editorial staff of the Lorenz Publishing Company, serving as editor of several choral and organ magazines. Throughout his career, Mr. Smith also served churches in Ohio, Michigan, and California as an organist and choir director.
Mr. Smith composed and arranged thousands of organ, choral, and piano pieces, as well as over 30 cantatas, special worship services, and youth cantatas. While known primarily for his sacred music, he was equally at home in any musical genre, including rock, pop, jazz, and classical contemporary. He made many musical contributions in the secular field, including works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, solo voice, ballet, and musical theater.
Commissions from various musical organizations, including the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, were received by Lani and many awards came his way, including an annual ASCAP award in recognition of his compositions efforts and the Bearns Prize in Composition awarded through Columbia University. He was also the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation grant.
Even in what he called “semi-retirement,” Lani Smith was a prolific composer, writing several arrangements a week for organ. Lani lived with his wife of thirty-five years, Jama, in Tucson, Arizona.