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Sam Smith is easily one of the most popular singers of the 21st century. Gaining prominence after he was featured on Disclosure’s and Naughty Boy’s singles, Smith has risen to become a multi-award-winning singer-songwriter. Born Samuel Frederick Smith in London, they were bullied as a child for having gynecomastia – a hormonal imbalance that causes excessive development of the breasts in males. When they were 12 years old, they underwent liposuction.
Smith’s love for music and the arts came at a very young age. In 2007, they were part of a theater production of the musical Oh! Carol with Youth Music Theatre UK. They studied singing and songwriting under the jazz pianist Joanna Eden and got their first two singles Bad All Day Week and When It’s Alright released before 2010.
Sam Smith’s Career Beginning and Rise to Fame
Sam Smith was propelled to prominence in 2012 when they featured in Disclosure’s single, Latch. Being the lead single for the duo’s debut album Settle, the song peaked at no. 11 on the UK Singles Chart. It slowly garnered success in the US, peaking at no. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 2014. Sam Smith’s next breakthrough hit was when they provided the vocals for DJ Naughty Boy’s 2013 single La La La. The song peaked at no. 1 on several countries’ music charts, including the UK Singles Chart. It became the fastest-selling single of 2013 in the UK at its release and was confirmed as the sixth fastest-selling single at the end of the year in the UK.
With the momentum from both features, Smith released their debut album’s lead single, Lay Me Down, in the same year. The track peaked at no. 46 in the UK and 25 in the US. Smith’s debut album In the Lonely Hour was released on May 26, 2014. The album was applauded by critics, peaking at no. 1 in the UK Albums Chart and no. 2 on the Billboard 200. It became the second highest-selling album of the year in the US, losing to Taylor Swift’s 1989. In the UK, it was also the second highest-selling album, coming behind Ed Sheeran’s x.
Sam Smith’s second album, The Thrill of It All, was released on November 3, 2017. Receiving positive reviews all over, it topped the UK Albums Chart and was also Smith’s first no. 1 work on the Canadian Albums Chart. Smith also held tours for their first and second albums: In the Lonely Hour Tour (2015) and The Thrill of It All Tour (2018).
The Singer’s Awards and Influences
With their international acclaim growing, Sam Smith performed Stay with Me at the 57th Grammy Awards on February 8, 2015. They also received four awards on the same day: Best Pop Vocal Album, Best New Artist, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year for Stay with Me. They performed at the 2015 Brit Awards and was awarded the British Breakthrough Act and Global Success awards. Smith, alongside English songwriter and producer Jimmy Napes, wrote and recorded the theme song to 2015’s James Bond movie, Spectre. Released on September 25, 2015, it became the first James Bond theme song to peak at no. 1 in the UK.
Sam pulled-off two Guinness World Records on October 19: one for having the first no. 1 James Bond theme song and the other for having the most consecutive weeks in the UK top 10 by a debut album. The theme song would later earn them the Award for Best Original Song at the 73rd Golden Globe Award on January 10, 2016. The song also earned them an Academy Award for Best Original Song on February 28.
Overall, Smith has received 73 award nominations with 29 award wins including Guinness World Records, ARIA Music Awards, ASCAP Pop Music Awards, BET Awards, BMI Awards, MOBO Awards, Teen Choice Awards, and MTV Awards.
Sam Smith has pointed out late singer Amy Winehouse and English singer-songwriter Adele as their major influences. They regard the late Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey as the greatest R&B singers. Among their other musical influences are Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé, Chaka Khan, Brandy, Lady Gaga, and even Ed Sheeran; with the latter’s success pushing Smith to want to achieve more.
Sam Smith’s Sexuality and Relationships
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Sam Smith came out as gay in May 2014. Shortly after this, they began dating model Jonathan Ziezel. Meeting on the music video set for their single Like I Can, they confirmed in October 2014 that they were a couple via Instagram. In early 2015, the relationship came to an end. Sam Smith dated The Only Way Is Essex star Charlie King afterward, though Smith never confirmed the relationship. Lasting for six months, King was the person who confirmed their relationship.
Things stayed relatively quiet until 2016 when model Jay Camilleri mentioned in an interview with The Mirror that he and Smith had been on dates together. However, nothing became of the story and things fizzled out. Sam Smith confirmed in September 2017 on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that they were dating actor Brandon Flynn, known best for his role as Justin Foley in Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why. After nine months, the couple split, with Smith removing all traces of the actor from their Instagram account.
Sam began identifying as genderqueer in October 2017, saying they feel both as a woman and a man. In September 2019, they came out as non-binary, changing their gender pronouns to they/them. They stated that this decision was made as an acceptance of who they really are.
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