U.K. born blue-eyed soul singer Sam Smith has sold out two 2014 U.S. headline tours promoting his debut CD In The Lonely Hour. His hit single, “Stay With Me” has entered its third consecutive week at #1 on urban AC radio with the addition of Mary J. Blige. The original, without her, has been a pop hit for months.
Despite his entry onto the R&B charts, Smith says he doesn’t think he’s an R&B artist.
“I consider myself a pop singer,” he told the Tom Joyner Morning Show. “I make popular music. But pop music is influence by everything. You can have pop singers who are also jazz singers and R&B singers who are pop, but I guess pop is the easiest way to explain it. I don’t like to put any labels on anything.”
Though Smith may not quite be aware of the musical divisions on the American pop scene that keep a Black artists like Mary J. Blige as an R&B artist while white artists in the same vein are considered “pop” – and to his credit, that’s not the case in the U.K., where soul music is revered and genres mix – he does understand singing with Mary is something special. Not only did he sing with her, he wrote songs for her new album The London Sessions, which puts another spin on the popular singer’s musical catalog.
‘We’ve got a great relationship me and her now,” says Smith. “So to me it’s not marketing, it’s just an organic relationship.”
One of the interesting things about the song with Blige is that there’s no choir in the background. It’s just Smith’s voice recorded in various parts of the studio.
At just 22, the openly gay Smith has deals with love in his music, but its not the kind you’d hope for.
“I’ve been in love but not the nicest kind,” he says. “This whole record to me was a way for me to prove that. I do know what I’m talking about what it comes to love and emotions like that. I’m so sick of hearing songs about love that has been returned because I couldn’t relate to that.”
The man who inspired “Stay With Me” knows he inspired the song, but apparently it didn’t bring the two any closer. Smith says that he was just attempting to explore his own psyche and relationship to love overall through his music.
“The whole record is not about him, it’s more about the relationship with me and myself and trying to figure it out.”
Click the links above to hear the entire interview!