Ferdinand Jay Smith III

Class of 2018

Ferdinand Jay Smith III (b. 1946) is an Emmy-nominated composer whose music is heard around the world on television networks. His expertise spans film and video animation, directing, writing, voiceover talent, producing, and music composition.

Smith started his career as a DJ at age 15. His on-air work morphed into a career as promotions director where he oversaw concerts for Led Zeppelin, The Rascals, Fleetwood Mac, Deep Purple, and Ginger Baker. He also managed Motown Records’ The Rustix and later he and his brother Gregory Smith promoted BB King, George Carlin, and other hit groups of the 1970s, including Capitol Records’ Skylark, launching the career of one of the most celebrated musicians and producers of all time, David Foster. Smith produced lead singer Donny Gerrard’s album “The Romantic,” which included “Wildflower” and two original songs written by Smith — “Nothing in Common” and “Time Was.” The Skylark’s Top 3 record “Wildflower” launched his lifelong career in music composition and scoring.

In 1973 Ferdinand founded Rochester-based Jay Advertising, Inc., for which he continues to serves as chairman of the leading full-service advertising agency. For 25 years he was the voice of Buick and currently is the voice of Chevy, Wegmans, and Raymour & Flanigan.

Smith is a member DGA-SAG/AFTRA-American Federation of Musicians-BMI Composer. He has scored numerous Emmy Award-winning TV specials and been honored with two Emmy nominations from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and many other awards.

Highlights of his career include composing the theme music for two Olympics for NBC (1980 and1988) and composing the HBO main theme music, resulting in 20 versions to date, and earning Smith a BMI Award in 2009 for longest-running theme on television.

Other theme songs he has composed include HBO specials, such as Sports 25th Anniversary Special, History of Boxing, and Inside the NFL: “When It Was a Game,” earning him an Emmy nomination for Best Music; the score for Emmy-nominated “Life of Arthur Ashe”; producing HBO’s skating special theme music, which won an ACE award (cable industry’s Emmy); themes for ABC, CBS, and NBC movies of the week; Golf Channel and A&E network theme music; Cinemax theme music; theme song for “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous”; and hundreds of original compositions for various retailers across America.