Chuck Smith is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who goes by the stage name Stray Deuce Music and performs and records under that moniker. He has a wealth of musical experience, having performed and recorded with notable artists like Diana Ross, The Funk Brothers (Motown), Lee Ritenour (smooth jazz great), Paul Williams (who received a Grammy with Daft Punk in 2014, as well as an Oscar for best song for “Evergreen”), Top 40 hit-maker Johnny Rivers, and others. He has also performed in Willie’s Nerve Clinic, a band he founded with bass legend Dirk Lance, a founding member of the multi-platinum band Incubus.
The lyrics to Baby It’s Me, the title single from Diana Ross’s 1977 album, are one of Stray’s classic works he’s penned. He has also recorded for Columbia and Motown, winning a Clio Award for music he wrote for a series of radio advertisements and produced a techno-funk score for Planet Fashion in London. Chuck also teaches songwriting workshops and has spoken at the San Diego Writers Conference and the Learning Annex.
“My music has been characterized as ‘having meaning.’ People have remarked how they find themselves listening to the lyrics when they usually don’t pay attention to the words of a song, only the melody and rhythm. In other words, my tunes have something to say,” says Stray.
“There is also an unusual mix of influences, including jazz, The Great American Songbook, rock music from different eras, lush vocal harmonies mixed with funk elements, all in the service of telling a story,” Stray explains.
Stray has lectured on the history of rock ‘n’ roll and the evolution of songwriting, and he’s performed as a singer, guitarist, and vocal arranger in countless studio sessions. Stray has given individual one-on-one tuition to hundreds of people. From classical to classic rock, folk to heavy metal, jazz to punk, and screamo to emo, he teaches guitar, bass, vocals, and songwriting. He’s familiar with bottleneck slides, funk rhythms, effects, and soloing. His vocal classes focus on contemporary music techniques such as pop, rock, jazz, blues, country, and aggressive genres. He’s worked as a vocal coach during American Idol auditions. A few of his former students have obtained record deals with major labels. Members of the million-selling modern rock band Incubus are among them, as is the singer of the Facebook dance-rap smash Hyper-Crush, and another is on the coveted Hotel Cafe tour. Stray has helped numerous kids prepare for auditions for television and film roles and school plays and musicals.
One of Stray’s goals has been to impact change and inspire the next generation of artists to hone their skills and hopefully grow to move the music scene positively. He is also using his music to address contemporary issues affecting society.
“The problem I help solve is giving people music that is hilarious and timely. Most specifically, ‘Billie Sings’ and ‘Lockdown Daze.’ ‘Trash Mars’ is another original song that deals with a pressing world issue using humor. People can always use good music to listen to. Especially when there is meaning behind it, and we can come together because of it,” says Stray.