Sam Smith – I’m Not The Only One
Sam Smith, a 21-year-old singer from London with milk-white skin and a tightly swirled pompadour, has made a name for himself as the soulful guest vocalist for dance music’s new wave, including breakout electronic group Disclosure, producer Naughty Boy and disco veteran Nile Rodgers. Now, with a debut solo album and tour on the way, he’s attempting to go it alone.
The transition from guest star to solo act can be difficult, but plenty of people are betting on his success. In December, he won the 2014 Brits Critic’s Choice Award and earlier this month, he won the BBC’s “Sound of 2014” music critics poll, which often predicts commercial success. (Past winners include Adele, 50 Cent and Ellie Goulding.)
He’s also demonstrated strong ticket sales. Most of his European tour dates have sold out well in advance. All of his U.S. performances sold out last year—including two nights at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, the first of which sold out in less than 24 hours. He recently announced a 10-city North American tour to promote his forthcoming album, “In the Lonely Hour,” due out in the U.S. on June 3. The San Francisco date sold out in a day.
Critics praise the fluid quality of Mr. Smith’s voice as well as his emotional lyrics and almost bashful stage presence.
Over the next six months, Capitol Records will shift from coordinating buzzy collaborations to launching Mr. Smith’s solo career, culminating in the release of his album. “We’ve had the big collaborative feature songs, but now we’re moving into Sam’s own music,” said Greg Thompson, executive vice president of Capitol Music Group.
Before the album makes its debut, the label plans to release an EP in February in the U.S., and then have Mr. Smith begin touring while his songs are promoted on college radio. “You need that time to drum up people’s appetite,” Mr. Thompson said.
Growing up in a small town 25 miles north of London, Mr. Smith began training as a jazz singer when he was 8 and had his first manager by age 12. He listened exclusively to female “power singers” until about a year ago, he said, such as Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan and Amy Winehouse, thus the soul and gospel undertones in his music. At 18, he moved to London to tend bar while playing gigs around the city. He met Disclosure in the fall of 2012 through common managers who suggested he sing over the duo’s new track “Latch.” The song became the first single from Disclosure’s debut album “Settle,” which received a 2013 Grammy nomination for Best Dance Album.
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