Exploring the Soulful Genius of Sam Smith

By bonneville on July 14, 2023
Sam Smith wearing a silver sequin tank top gazing over their left shoulder as they dance
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – DECEMBER 15: Sam Smith performs onstage at iHeartRadio Power 96.1’s Jingle Ball 2022 Presented by Capital One at State Farm Arena on December 15, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Derek White/Getty Images for iHeartRadio)

Sam Smith is a British singer-songwriter who has been making waves in the music industry since 2012. They broke into the mainstream with their hit “Latch,” a collaboration with Disclosure, in 2012. The following year, they released “In the Lonely Hour” to critical and commercial success. It won four Grammy Awards for Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year (for “Stay with Me”), and Best Pop Vocal Album. 

In addition to their music career, Smith is also an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights. They credit Lady Gaga for helping them come out as non-binary in 2019 and have spoken openly about their experiences as a queer person. Smith uses they/them pronouns. 

Enter to win tickets to see them perform with Jessie Reyez on August 19th. 

Sam Smith

Early years

Smith was born in London on May 19, 1992, and began playing in jazz bands and performing in theater productions as a child. They have talked openly about their body image issues they’ve had since a preteen, saying they were bullied as a child and underwent liposuction at age 12. Their career trajectory has followed their journey of self-discovery, gaining confidence and acceptance of their identity. 

They have cited Adele and Amy Winehouse as their primary influences, and it shows in their soulful, emotional ballads. So much that when Mary J. Blige first heard them sing on “Latch,” she thought they were a Black woman – Smith responded by saying, “I actually didn’t listen to male vocalists… I just listened to Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan. Massive voices.” 

Smith’s music is often described as soulful and emotional, and their lyrics often deal with love, loss, and self-acceptance. They are often praised for their honest and vulnerable songwriting, resonating with a wide range of listeners. 

In the Lonely Hour and subsequent releases

Their first release, “In the Lonely Hour,” came out in 2014, with more emphasis on ballads than the dance hit they worked on with Disclosure. Though the sound was different, “Stay With Me” was received well and became a chart-topper, earning them several accolades.

Smith then released “The Thrill of It All” in 2017 and “Love Goes” in 2020. They also created the theme song, “Writing’s on the Wall,” for the James Bond film, “Spectre,” in 2015. The song won them an Oscar for Best Original Song. 

On Gloria 

Released on January 27, 2023, Gloria is their fourth studio album. Their lead single “Unholy” with Kim Petras shook audiences worldwide when it was released in September of 2022, leading to much anticipation for the album’s release. “I’m Not Here to Make Friends” with Calvin Harris and Jessie Reyez has also charted the airways, reaching the top 100 on Billboard as well as ranking in charts internationally. They also share tracks with Koffee, an up-and-coming reggae artist, and pop star Ed Sheeran. 

In an interview with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, Smith said that Gloria “is a word that’s meant a lot to me throughout my life. The Laura Branigan gay anthem ‘Gloria’ is something I’ve always heard in gay clubs, and then ‘Gloria’ in school, through singing hymns and stuff. But for me ‘Gloria’ is something that I’ve called a spirit in me that says to me, ‘you keep going, you’ve got this, carry on.’ It’s like a fighter spirit within me.”

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