Jonni El was born on September 13, 1966 in Nashville, TN, the first of two children born to the late John Eugene Smith & Rita Ann Merritt-Smith in Nashville, TN. God summoned him home early Sunday morning on October 24, 2021.
Jonni El accepted Christ at an early age in life and was united with St. Paul A.M.E. Church, Nashville, TN. Jonni El received his education in the Davidson County public school system. He was graduate of Hillsboro Comprehensive High School in 1984, where he attended on a special transfer to pursue his interest in recording studio. In high school, Jonni was well known as a great athlete, excelling in track, basketball and football (running back) #22. John’s true passion was to master music engineering.
He taught himself how to play several musical instruments. Jonni often played bass & lead guitar in several bands he formed (Pressure, Atrayu, The Myxxx, Geno Dice & The Rhythm Brigade) to name a few. He and The Myxxx band experienced the hot Minneapolis & The First Avenue scenes during the booming mid-late 80’s era. Most recently he was out on the road sitting in with Purple Masquerade. Throughout his lifetime he had the opportunity to work with a multitude of famous & local artist and musicians around the country.
Jonni El was formerly employed with LKQ Inc. as a delivery driver and as the Logistics & Sound Engineer at Limelight Event Center. He was currently Production Manager with Victor Chatman Productions. He recently started a new job as a CDL Bus Operator with We Go Transit Public Transportation, where he employed until his death.
Jonni El was the eldest grandson of both his maternal & paternal grandparents. He is preceded in death by both of his parents; Grandparents Kenneth & Ernestine Odom, Albert & Regina Merritt; Uncle: Albert Merritt Jr., Aunts: Lorraine (Harry) Vaughn, Loretta (Charles) Norman, Regina (Michael) Perry.
He is survived by one very loving & devoted sister Victoria Renee Smith; his greatest joy, his one and only Little Princess: Jaia Sa’Rai Smith; companion Diquanda Johnson (child) Zyanah Johnson; Aunts, Brenda D. Merritt, Diane Sparkman & Melissa Odom-Tibbs both of Hohenwald, TN; Uncles, John Leon (Aleisha) Merritt of Aberdeen, MD, Charles Merritt of Natchez, MS: Kenneth Odom Jr. (Renee) of Hohenwald, TN, Johnathan (Anna) Odom, William (Lanara) Odom of Hamphire, TN; favorite Cousin-Sister who he always looked up to Beretta Duckett; very devoted cousins Linda, Maria, Harriett, Keisha, Tierra; Very devoted friends Calvin Scruggs, Clifford Rooks, Edward Hayes, J.C. & Chanteau Teasley, Marcus Floyd, Barry Anderson, Azzam Tarif, Candice Simmons, Joe Long, Nathan Pierce, Herman Sowell, Van Bradshaw , Terry Fisher, Michael McDonald, and host of other cousins, relatives and friends.