I’m baaaccckkkk! Darian here, I’ve just gotten settled from spending the past week down in Austin, Texas at South By Southwest Music Conference & Festival. While there I attended dozens of panels, tons of great shows, and ate my weight in delicious local grub. Now that I’m back, I’m happy to be spending the next week or so recapping the event by summarizing panels, and bio’ing all the excellent bands I heard. I'm kicking it off with a sort-of-sync-analysis since we haven't done one in a while! Stay tuned to the site so you don’t miss any of the coverage, and you can talk with us on Twitter & Facebook about your favorite bands/panels from the festival! You can also see all of my videos/photos from SX on my Instagram.
Post-SXSW, Sam Smith Has Arrived
Where does one begin with Sam Smith? Sam Smith, if you’re not already familiar with him, is a London-based contemporary soul singer-songwriter, that’s a mouthful right? In short, you should know about him because his pipes are phenomenal, and since working in a bar in 2012, the singer has claimed a major Brit award, sung on chart-topping singles like Disclosure’s “Latch,” and Naughty Boy’s “La La La,” rocked SXSW, and landed a rockstar sync placement on this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy -- all before releasing a full-length album.
With his handful of mind-blowing live showcases at SXSW, we believe Sam Smith has officially arrived in the U.S., and he is certainly someone to watch. He is currently on a sold-out mini-tour of the U.S., so we hope you’ve already found your way in, as tickets aren’t even available through secondary channels. He will also be releasing his debut album The Lonely Hour on Capitol Records May 26, which you can pre-order here. So who is he, really?
Contact Music stated it best: “Sam Smith is just 21 years old and was born in the picturesque county of Cambridgeshire, where he was raised and educated before going on to work in a local shop. Sam showed interest in music from an early age and spent a few years studying and training under his jazz coach, pianist, and vocalist Joanna Eden. Sam was also a member of Youth Music Theatre UK and back in 2007, before he was a chart topping vocalist, starred in the company’s production of ‘Oh! Carol’.”
When Sam was a breakout star at just 16 he told Bent Magazine “Anyone who makes music is an influence to me -- full stop. However, I was brought up in a house full of girls! So power divas are my true gods. I love Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston and all the big girls! Aretha, Dionne Warwick...and I adore Stevie Wonder and Prince and anyone with soul. I guess you could say my family listen to black music mostly and I would like to think that’s where I got my voice from. On the inside, I’m this warbling soul singer from the 60s.”
Having grown up in a heavily female-influenced environment, its no wonder Sam is able to bring a sort of delicate soulful femininity to his singing, without being too effeminate and he makes it look so effortless, simply put, his music and voice are beautiful.
We had the privilege of not only meeting Sam, but also of seeing him twice at SXSW, and a quick chat with Capitol Records (Sam’s Label) VP of Strategic Marketing, Alisann Blood, revealed that the singer’s vocal homage to pop divas has finally paid off; Smith’s cover of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I know” will air during this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy as part of the creator’s vision of a throwback series.
The show’s famed music supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas has helped the show gain its reputation as “a launch pad for new music,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Grey’s creator, Shonda Rhimes, according to Patsavas for THR, “Had this idea back in the fall, and we started to talk about songs she knew would make sense with the story. ...We started with a couple of songs that she was interested in seeing if there were great modern interpretations for.”
Rhimes then told THR that she was worried about whether the idea was “good/tasteful or not, but I knew that Alex would know,” adding that, “Happily, Alex told me she loved the idea. She then asked me to make a list of songs I wanted to hear covered. I went off and wrote down every ‘80s song that I ever loved and I made this very long list. Then Alex did what Alex does best -- she went out and found amazing bands that had covered these songs.”
From there, we understand it became sort of a lottery for the artists whose works were submitted. Rhimes told THR Alex would send her “Zip files with, like, five different artists, each covering the same Whitney Houston song, and I would go out of my mind with excitement.” We know now who won that particular battle, of course!
Smith’s cover is “set to be featured in episode 16 on March 20,” be sure to catch it live on ABC, and follow all of Sam’s happenings on Twitter, Facebook,YouTube, SoundCloud, and Instagram! You could also just follow his aggregate social feed on his website, SamSmithworld.com.