When he was 18 years old, Sam Smith wrote his first truthful song, a flashbulb moment for the brilliant blue-eyed soul singer. Three years later and the song has long since been discarded as a naive folly. Like all singer songwriters that are rich in emotion, knee-deep in their own small personal complications and dependent on their precociously youthful talent to engage with the world, Sam resolved never to write a song again that didn’t connect straight from the heart. The first set of results, delivered with breathtaking vocal depth and range, were put to the litmus test of public opinion when his debut album dropped in 2014.
When he reached number one on the singles chart last year, collaborating with London production wizard Naughty Boy, on the insanely catchy global smash La, La, La, Sam Smith didn’t feel triumphant. He felt relief. ‘It’s almost like a little gift,’ he says. ‘Now I’ve had a number one I don’t feel that pressure. Of course I want the songs to do well but it’s about making an artistic statement. The focus is more selfish now. I’ve ticked that box off, it was lovely, amazing in a way, but I can concentrate on other things.’
Anyone that has seen Sam touring and tearing medium sized venues to pieces with his lacerating grief ballad Lay Me Down will have spotted the more innate appeal of his artistry and its special potential to move at mass market. Sam is a big, softly spoken man who translates musically through the humility of his phrasing. ‘I write exactly as I speak,’ he notes.
He was born in 1992 in the small Cambridgeshire satellite town Linton to a mother making significant waves in the financial industry and a househusband father who took over the day care of Sam and his two younger sisters. His mother, he says, is ‘amazing. Sam Smith Vancouver Concert 2015 There have been strong women in my life from a very young age. My great aunt was one of the first ever female bankers. You would never call my dad a weak man but it was always a female dominated family. The oestrogen is high, which played into my love of music.’
The house was full of soul music and young Sam developed an uncanny ear for the phrasing of female powerhouse vocalists. The first album he remembers moving him was Whitney Houston’s My Love is Your Love, her complete urban revamp delivered on the back of a public pot-smoking scandal. By the age of 8, his parents had noticed his uncanny ability to emote with the same phrasing as Chaka Khan. One of the first songs he understood was Aretha’s Say A Little Prayer. ‘Hearing those female voices, those strong voices probably felt natural to me because of my mum and my aunts. It was always voices when I was growing up, just the emotion and power behind them.’
Sam Smith Vancouver Concert 2015
Date: Wednesday, February 4
Venue: Rogers Arena
Time: Doors: 6:00PM Show: 7:00PM
Tickets: Range from $35.00, $55.00, $85.00. On sale Friday October 24, 2014 at 10:00am via Live Nation