Van Jewell Hinton is an award-winning singer, songwriter, actress and the Co-Founder and CEO of Smooch Music, Inc., an independent record label distributed by Alliance Entertainment.
Born in New Haven, Connecticut, and raised in the town of Waterbury, Van Jewell lived in a foster home with her oldest brother from the age of 3 to 18, where singing and acting were her biggest outlets. Van began performing at the tender age of 6, when her first-grade teacher requested she sing during an afternoon class. She went on to perform in various local plays, as well as spending the greater part of her teenage years playing and singing in numerous bands.
In her teens, after receiving second place during one of the Apollo Theater’s famed talent nights, Van decided to relocate to New York City in her 20s. She performed regularly at Gil Hodges’ club and restaurant in Brooklyn. It was during her time in the Big Apple that Van joined a ten piece band called, “The Awakening” which afforded her the opportunity to travel throughout the country for three years, and open for the legendary Nancy Wilson. After that, Van traveled to Japan for six months to perform in Tokyo clubs and also did TV Commercials.
After relocating to Los Angeles, Van signed a record deal with “Earmarc/Casablanca Records” as a solo artist, and became professionally known as Van Hinton. She joined forces with producers Haim Saban and Shuki Levi, and began working on her debut full-length solo album for the label.
Van later joined The Actor’s Workshop, where she studied for two years in Studio City. To date, Van’s television credits include “Leadfoot”, an After-School Special, a reporter on “General Hospital,” as well as a featured role in an episode for the long-running daytime television show, “The Bold and the Beautiful”. She also appeared on “The Gong Show” where she came in second place, as well as a number of TV commercials.
In addition to her extensive list of accolades as a singer/actress, Van’s involvement in the entertainment industry spans to the business side, where she worked for Jonathan Dolgen, then President of the Fox Studios, as well as Renny Harlin, who directed “Nightmare on Elm Street”.
In the fall of 1998, Van graced JET magazine as the September centerfold. Though, she feels her biggest accomplishments were when she became a member of the highly talented music spinoff, “The Platters.’ Van also was a member of ‘“The Friends of Distinction”, “The Sounds of the Supremes” and “The Fifth Dimension”.
While performing with the Supremes, Van appeared on numerous television shows in Australia and received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Germany. In 2003, Van appeared on the Jerry Lewis Telethon in New York while performing with “The Fifth Dimension” and also performed on the “Dick Clark’s Rockin New Year’s Eve” special with Donna Summer.
In 2004, Van took on a new role when she became CEO and co-founder of Smooch Inc., a premium clothing line Van created along with her husband and CFO, Larry Kantor.
Van returned to her music roots in 2008 when she and Kantor formed Smooch Music, Inc.
Van and Larry worked for years with Shawn Rivera of La Face Records’ “Az Yet”, on recording Maya Angelou’s last project before her passing titled “Caged Bird Songs”, an album of her spoken word performances over hip-hop beats, and R&B and gospel tracks. The album was produced by RoccStar (Chris Brown, Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Lopez) and Rivera. Van has co-writing credits on most of the album. The single from that album, “Harlem Hopscotch”, yielded a music video directed and produced by Emmy Award winning Napoleon and Tabitha Dumo of NappyTabs, who have handled choreography choirs for “So You Think You Can Dance”, “Dancing With The Stars” and many music videos. The “Harlem Hopscotch” Video was produced with the help and production support of OWN Digital. This incredible album of music will bring the heritage and legacy of Dr. Angelou to younger people for years to come.
Van is currently writing her Autobiography and is a Board Member of the International Committee with the Hollywood Bowl.
For more information, please visit www.CagedBirdSongs.com