Following in the footsteps of Adele, Ellie Goulding and Haim, British soul singer Sam Smith was this week crowned the winner of the BBC’s prestigious Sound of 2014, the industry-voted poll which aims to predict who will achieve the biggest breakthrough over the next twelve months. Here’s a brief guide to the 21-year-old.
He’d been through six different managers by the time he was 18
Something of a child prodigy, Smith’s astonishing vocal range was discovered early on, but not one of the six managers he went through by the age of 18 appeared to know the best way to handle his talents, with one in particular attempting to turn him into the next Michael Buble.
He’s partly responsible for Disclosure’s breakthrough
The Lawrence brothers may have built up some impressive buzz on the blogosphere with their classy brand of garage-house. But it was only when they hooked up with Smith on 2012’s slinky falsetto-led “Latch” that they first troubled the charts.
He already has a UK number one under his belt
Further establishing himself as the number one go-to guest vocalist, Smith then provided the emotive vocal for Naughty Boy’s “La La La,” a two-step throwback which sold nearly a million copies and topped the UK charts last May.
His debut E.P. received rave reviews
Proving he is capable of releasing his own material too, Smith then received rave reviews for Nirvana, a self-assured debut E.P. which took in everything from pitch-shifted Timbaland-inspired R&B to The xx-esque melancholic electro-soul.
He’s worked with Nile Rodgers
Smith then contributed to one of last year’s best superstar collaborations when he hooked up with Chic legend Nile Rodgers and regular cohorts Jimmy Napier and Disclosure for the summery disco-funk of “Together.”
He’s already won a BRIT Award
As well as topping the Sound of 2014 poll, Smith was also voted this year’s BRITs Critics Choice winner, and with “La La La” also receiving a nomination for Best British Single, he could find himself making two acceptance speeches come February 19.
His forthcoming debut album is for lonely people
Inspired by both a string of classic soul divas (Whitney, Chaka, Beyonce) and his lack of experience in love, Smith has described his forthcoming debut, In The Lonely Hour, (due for release in May) as “an album for lonely people.”