2014 is proving to be a monumental year for 22-year-old British singer Sam Smith. He won the 2014 BRIT Critic's Choice Award as well as the BBC Sound of 2014 Poll. On May 26th, Smith released his debut studio album, In the Lonely Hour, which went on to peak at #1 on the UK Albums Chart. To celebrate his newfound success, Smith performed this past Tuesday night to a sold out audience in Harlem's Apollo Theater.
SAM SMITH ft Mary J. Blige “STAY WITH ME” AT THE APOLLO THEATER 6.17.2014
Sam Smith "Latch" at the Apollo Theater 6.17.2014
Sam Smith "Lay Me Down" at the Apollo Theater 6.17.2014
With a powerful baritone voice and a luscious falsetto, Smith captivated the modest audience of 1,500. Performing with a level of class and style that seems to have fallen out of fashion in contemporary music, Smith crooned and belted over heart-wrenching arrangements that featured a traditional rhythm section as well as a string quartet. Entering the coda of "Lay Me Down," Smith sang at the top of his lungs to cheering fans with pitch perfect precision and a masterful control of his vocal chords. He ended the song nearly a capella with only faint drops raining in from the acoustic piano behind him.
For his rendition of "Latch," the 2012 track by British electronic duo Disclosure, that featured him as a singer and ultimately became his breakout single, he stripped away the electronics and relied predominantly on an acoustic piano, electric bass, strings and a drum set. With his powerful voice piercing through the mix, the song took on a newfound sense of intimacy bringing lyrics that once were buried in in an intricate web of technological sounds straight to the forefront. The entire performance culminated into a duet of his hit single, "Stay With Me," with Mary J. Blige.
After saying to the audience, "You can be louder," Smith delved into the song with a wide grin and a backup of choral singers. The crowd began to roar as Mary J. Blige took to the stage and there was a smile on Smith's face for the rest of the performance. The duo sang off of each other in gorgeous harmony, with each assuming the melody. They travelled with professional dexterity between their regular singing range, and their falsettos.
The performance ended as a marriage of two genuinely talented and hard working singers coming together across multiple generations on a single song, at a timeless performance venue. No doubt that Sam Smith's time at the Apollo Theater will continue to be a significant milestone in his career. We'll be waiting to see what the remainder of 2014 has in store for this young musician.
For more Sam Smith related information, check out his Zumic artist page.