On this week’s Artists in Focus blog we are all about the multi award-winning artist that is Sam Smith.

Pre-Album Times

The world was first introduced to this English singer and songwriter back in 2012, when they featured on a single by Disclosure called “Latch”. People quickly fell in love with Sam’s distinctive vocals, and the song reached number 11 in the UK charts as well as number 7 in the US charts a couple of years later! “Latch” has become an absolute dance classic, probably because of its powerful bassline, a bassline that we were super keen to get into the Rockschool Bass syllabus. So, you can now learn “Latch” for your Bass Grade 2 exam and groove away to this club anthem!

After this breakthrough single, Sam was featured on Naughty Boy’s “La La La”, the second single from his debut album Hotel Cabana. Sam contributes the lead vocal and it really is an incredible showcase of their talent. Let’s just say, there’s a reason that this song has been included in the Rockschool Vocals syllabus at Grade 7 level. If you know the song well, you’re probably aware of their unbelievable vocal range which is a real for students. The song was an enormous success and flew to the number 1 spot in the charts!

… And to think we hadn’t even got an album from Sam Smith yet!


Finally, The Lonely Hour was released in 2014 with Capitol Records, and it was everything the world was hoping for. It contained hits like “Money on my Mind” which became their second number 1 single in the UK, and “Stay With Me” which really exploded and sent waves through the music industry. “Stay With Me” reached number 1 in the UK, number 2 in the US Billboard Hot 100, and won Sam no fewer than four Grammy Awards for Best Pop Vocal Album, Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year. What an amazing achievement! And it didn’t stop there. The album was the second best-selling of 2014, just after T-Swift’s 1989 in the US, and Mr Sheeran’s x in the UK.

“Stay With Me” definitely deserved a place in the Rockschool Graded Exams syllabus, so you’ll find it in the Debut Electric Guitar grade. This is such a fantastic piece to tackle in the early days of learning. It really gives the performer the opportunity to experience playing both the accompaniment and the melody. We’d recommend giving the original tune a play, paying particularly close attention to what the piano is doing in the beginning, as this will give you a really good picture of what to aim for in your exam.

Award After Award

Sam’s career has continued to go from strength to strength. We’ve had their theme for the James Bond film Spectre, called “Writing’s On The Wall” which won both a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Song. They’ve had many other successful singles like “Dancing With A Stranger”, “How Do You Sleep”, “To Good For Goodbyes”, and “I’m Ready”.

And as the singles kept coming, so did the awards. Sam earned themselves three Brits, three Billboard Music Awards, and an American Music Award, in addition to all the awards we’ve already mentioned.

Sam is non-binary, and uses the they/them pronouns, saying that “after a lifetime of being at war with my gender, I’ve decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out.” We are here for it. Power to you, Sam!

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about Sam Smith and their career. Since it’s Pride Month, why not check out some other queer musicians who have been featured on our blog? We’ve had Lady Gaga, Prince, Kaki King and Freddie Mercury amongst many more.