Who Is Sam Smith?
Sam Smith was born in London in May 1992 and began singing at a young age. They first hit the charts as the featured singer on the 2012 Disclosure song "Latch," and released their first single, "Lay Me Down," soon after. In 2014, Smith released In the Lonely Hour, their heartfelt debut full-length album. It contained the smash hit "Stay With Me," a radio staple over the course of the entire year. For their work on In the Lonely Hour, Smith was awarded four Grammys, among them Song of the Year and Record of the Year. In 2019, Smith announced that they prefer to use non-binary pronouns.
Smith was born on May 19, 1992, in London. A natural singer, Smith began performing as a child, but the first real press they got came in 2009, when their mother, a successful banker, was fired after allegedly promoting her 15-year-old son’s singing career while on company time. Smith had only recorded two songs at that point and it would be a few years before they left their mark on the musical world.
Throughout their teenage years, Smith studied music while hitting the books at St. Mary's Catholic School in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire. They looked for inspiration in such soulful artists as Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder while keeping a close eye on their future in the music business.
Smith’s first moment in the spotlight would come when the dance/electronica duo Disclosure released its 2012 song “Latch,” to which Smith lent their vocals. The track featured the singer’s melodic falsetto over Disclosure’s electronic beat. "Latch," featuring a stripped-down sound that made the listener take notice of Smith’s vocal work, resonated in a big way with music fans and critics alike and laid the groundwork for their future success in the UK and beyond. "Latch" reached the top of the UK singles chart when Smith was just 21, and they soon released their own single, “Lay Me Down.”
Smith’s next hit was again via a featured role on another artist’s song: Naughty Boy’s Bollywood-inspired "La La La." With Smith's lead vocal, the song became an instant No. 1 single in the UK in the spring of 2013. In the fall, Smith released their first EP, Nirvana, on which listeners were treated to an acoustic version of "Latch." A few months later, in February 2014, Smith was again at the top of the UK singles chart with "Money on My Mind," and in May 2014, their full-length debut, In the Lonely Hour, was released in the UK.
Coming Out and Awards Success
The same month that In the Lonely Hour was released, Smith told the world they were gay. They also revealed that despite the album being full of love songs, they've never experienced it firsthand. “I've never been in a relationship before,” they said to the magazine Fader. “In the Lonely Hour is about a guy that I fell in love with last year, and he didn't love me back. ... I was in a very dark place.”
That dark place has taken Smith to some very exciting, rewarding arenas. At the 2015 Grammy Awards, Smith and their record took four awards: Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Album, Record of the Year and Song of the Year (“Stay With Me”).
"Before I made this record I was doing everything to try and get my music heard," Smith said during one of his four acceptance speeches. "It was only until I started to be myself that the music started to flow and people started to listen."
More Disclosure and James Bond
Smith continued to keep busy in 2015, releasing a re-recorded version of "Lay Me Down" as a duet with soul singer/songwriter John Legend. The track went to No. 1 on the UK pop charts while raising money for the charity initiative Comic Relief. Smith then contributed lead vocals on the sleek "Omen," one of the first singles from Disclosure's sophomore album, Caracal.
Smith has since joined the James Bond canon of movie vocalists with his orchestral single "Writing's on the Wall" for Spectre. Co-written with Jimmy Napes, the song became a No. 1 single in the UK. "Wall" received both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award in 2016, with Smith dedicating his Oscar win to LGBT communities across the globe.
Second Album: 'The Thrill of It All'
In September 2017, Smith released the first track, "Too Good at Goodbyes," from their sophomore album The Thrill of It all. Three more singles followed from the album, which hit No. 1 in the UK and U.S.
Smith enjoyed more commercial success via their collaborations with Calvin Harris on "Promises" and with Normani on "Dancing with a Stranger," before resuming solo work for the summer 2019 release of "How Do You Sleep?"
Decision to Use Non-Binary Pronouns
In 2019, Smith announced that they were going to begin using the non-gender, non-binary pronouns they/them. "After a lifetime of being at war with my gender I’ve decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out. I’m so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I’ve been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think," they wrote on Instagram.
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