Sunday, July 14, 2024

‘We want them to know that people care about them’


Ne-Yo and his mom, Loraine.

R&B sensation Ne-Yo recently attended his Smith Family Foundation toy drive, which was held at a local Boys & Girls Club in Las Vegas — where hundreds of disadvantaged young people received gifts at an event managed by the singer’s mother, Loraine Smith. When Ne-Yo arrived, accompanied by his wife Crystal, scores of children screamed with joy as he made his way through the crowd to take selfies, sign autographs, and hand out toys.

Las Vegas Black Image Magazine recently sat down with Loraine Smith — for a conversation about the aim of the foundation and dreams for her family.

Tell me about your Smith Family?

We started this foundation in Nevada in 2016. Prior to that, the foundation was called The Compound Foundation — and it was a Georgia entity, where Ne-Yo used to live. Ne-Yo decided to move back to Los Angeles, and even then, our first giveaway for children always took place first in Las Vegas — where both Ne-Yo and his sister Nicole were raised.

Why was the initial name of the foundation called, The Compound?

The Compound Foundation was started about ten years ago, because it was the name of one of my son’s businesses — his touring company is called Compound Touring.


What is the official objective of the foundation?

The Smith Family Foundation exists to give a helping hand to children in foster care. We try to make them understand that their current situation does not necessarily dictate what their future will be. We want them to know that there are people who care about them and their future.

Are you from Las Vegas originally?

No, I am originally from Arkansas. I came to Las Vegas in 1980 after I got married. My husband’s brother was in the Air Force, and we joined him. That is how the Smith family came to Las Vegas. Ne-Yo got his first job in Las Vegas at a local McDonald’s by Circus Circus, and often jokes that he got fired after burning  some fries. Now, I am currently enjoying grandmotherhood. I am very hands-on with my grandchildren. There is always one of my grandchildren at my home. They keep me young.

You have an online business?

Yes. It’s called Ms. Loraine’s Closet, at I look forward to opening a free-standing store in Las Vegas. It’s like an online thrift store that features many items given to me by celebrities. I have helped my son move out of two homes — and I always get to keep anything I want, because he moves around so much. So I decided to sell of the things and donate the proceeds to the foundation.

How often do you see your son, Ne-Yo?

I see him a lot, and speak to him frequently, because I manage some things for him. He has his own personal assistant, but sometimes it’s easier to call mom. I also work with his accounting firm. I don’t know if you know that some years back he went through a bad time with his accountant, so he had to change firms — and since then, I have been the liaison between Ne-Yo and the new accounting firm.

How many children does Ne-Yo have?

He currently has three children and one on the way. He and his wife Crystal are expecting their second child.

Ne-Yo and his wife Crystal.

How does the family feel about Crystal being on the reality series “The Platinum Life”?

We are fine with it. What you see on “The Platinum Life” is what you get. Crystal is exactly who she is portraying — herself. I joke with her when she talks about her anger issues. I tell her that I don’t believe she has any more anger issues than anyone else. Sometimes it’s just a matter of maturing and learning how to deal with things in a different way. Crystal is as sweet as she can be.

How would you answer mothers who would like to raise their children to become superstars?

I would love to stand here and take all the credit for Ne-Yo’s success. I was just listening to a program and I heard the saying, “Your children didn’t come from you, but through you.” Our family comes from generations of performers, and my uncle played with the Mighty Clouds of Joy. There always been talent in the family — and I told Ne-Yo that God gave him and audience and eventually he will discover what that audience is for. Both of my children are very talented, and my daughter Nikki Loraine is recording in the studio now. My dream is to see both my children receive a Grammy together. I haven’t given up hope — it’s going to happen.

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