Twenty-eight year old R&B singer Sammie, born Sammie Lee Bush Jr, has been in the music game for 16 years, releasing two albums ('From The Bottom to The Top' and 'Sammie') and a few indie projects, including 'Insomnia' and his most recent EP, 'The Leigh Bush Project.' The latter was based on a temporary name change that may have had fans a little confused.
"We as artists are always supposed to stay innovative, creative, and think outside the box," Sammie says of his transition to Leigh Bush before shifting back to "Sammie." "Two years ago, I did this project called The Leigh Bush Project; it debuted top 10 on iTunes. I think from a marketing standpoint it was genius, because Sammie had made such an impact with "I Like It," "Crazy Things I Do For Love," "Hard Ball," and "Come With Me." I asked myself, 'what could I do differently to tap into a different way, sonically?' For us, it was expanding the brand. I never wanted to make it seem like Sammie was gone forever; it was never a "Rest in Peace, this is the new me forever." That's why we titled the project, The Leigh Bush Project, 'cause we really didn’t know how the fans would take to it. I knew in the grand scheme of things that Sammie would be the brand name that I would come back under because that’s who the world knows and loves, so it's all about phases. It's all about innovation, doing something creative and just having fun with it. There’s no rules anymore, just freedom and I like that. There's freedom to do what you wanna do, and as long as you believe in the vision, and you execute it to its maximum potential, the results will show."
Sammie's name transition took self-confidence, something he seems to have a whole bucket of. Although he has a strong support team around him, his belief in God gives him the strength and courage to seek after his life goals.
"God is the beginning and the end. My mom and my father instilled God into me as a kid, and I started singing in the church also. Being in this industry, with so many demons around you, I think it's essential to have a spiritual foundation, and for me that's God, that's Jehovah," he says. "I'm not trying to preach religion on anybody; that's just the source that I pray to. I think it's really the key to stay balanced and level-headed, down-to-earth and humble, because I know everything starts or begins and ends with Him."
Sammie signed with Capitol Records in 1999 and released his debut album, From the Bottom to the Top, on March 14, 2000. Heralded by the single, "I Like It," the set debuted at number 46 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and was certified gold by the RIAA. Being in the music industry since he was 13-years-old, Sammie has definitely learned a thing or two about the people around him.
"I would tell young Sammie to be mindful of those he brings into his circle," he says as he thinks back to when his journey started. "I'm big on energy, spirits, and positive vibes, and I've been through a lot, so looking back, hindsight is 20/20, so I would definitely be mindful of those I allow in my circle and in my day to day, especially in my business, because it takes a group effort for everything to run smoothly. Everything else is trial and error, but that’s something I would tell my younger self to be mindful of."
With tribulations come knowledge and Sammie has definitely learned from his past dealings. He utilizes his experiences to make sure he handles his business the proper way.
"You hear terrible horror stories of terrible managements or partnerships with labels that don't go quite the way we would have liked, so I just make sure I'm included on all business matters," he says. "That way, if things don't go right, I can stomach it as a man if I had something to do with the decision. When you're faced with dealing with the consequences of somebody else's actions, or the lack thereof, it's kind of a tough pill to swallow, so I'm just big on being hands on with my project. Not just music, but the business aspect, also.
Following his debut album, Sammie took a hiatus from music to focus on school; he graduated fromWest Orange High School in Winter Garden, Florida at age seventeen in 2005. In 2006, he signed with Dallas Austin's Rowdy Records and released his sophomore self-titled album, which featured production from top producers, including Dallas, Jazze Pha, and Bryan-Michael Cox. The project was dubbed a commercial failure and in 2008 Sammie left Rowdy and claimed his music independence.
"I've been independent for about 80% of my career. I had some mainstream success, so I think people thought I always was major, but aside from my first album, everything after that was an indie campaign," Sammie explains. "I like that you have creative control, I think it's imperative to know who you are as an artist, what message you wanna convey to the people, how you wanna look, how you wanna talk, what content you wanna sing about. You don't have to play the political game, you don't have to worry about going through this person, that person; you really can just find yourself and give yourself to the people."
Now, the Florida-bred artist is prepping his third studio album, led by the Ying Yang Twins-assisted single, "Show Me." The accompanying music video showcases a different image of the R&B singer, and he explained the look.
"It's just a part of me. My hair is mad long right now. I trapped myself in the studio for like a year, so I ended up being this scruffy guy. My beard was crazy, my hair was crazy. It's a part of me; I'm from Florida, so I always wanted to have some slug, that’s why they’re gold, they’re not permanent," he explains. "There're different sides to me. I think my entire career I’ve been very clean cut, but off camera, I have a rugged side as well. I’m just gonna give you the true me, I’m not gonna hide different sides of me. People are big on transparency, that’s why social media is so broad and so well-received, and I feel like I shouldn’t hide any aspects. I have tattoos; I’ll let them show a little bit. My hair is long, I’m gonna rock it. It’s still Sammie, though, it’s not me trying to be anything I’m not, it feels real comfortable and natural because it’s really who I am.
Complimenting the different images of Sammie is a more mature musical sound.
"I would say the same Sammie sound, we’re just older so of course the content is more mature; it’s still transparent, still passionate, still vulnerable, still organic," Sammie explains. "What's so funny, though. A record like "Show Me" is so against the initial Sammie that some of my fans are like, 'I hope he's not conforming to the ways of what you see going on in R&B.' I want people to look at "Show Me" for what it is, a fun, party record. It's Spring/Summer time, and I just want everybody to let their hair down and have a good time with it. But my official single "Had A Few," the video's been shot, it’s a beautiful ballad, very honest. I’m very transparent in it; it’s a real situation. I’m gonna be the guy to quote/unquote "bring back real R&B" because that’s what everybody says they want. I'm gonna feed it to them and pray that the world supports it."
He continued about his upcoming third studio album: "My third LP is titled 'Blue Orchid.' And what that symbolizes is my Ex. The blue orchid is the most beautiful flower I’ve ever laid my eyes on, and I had the pleasure to date one of the most beautiful spirits that walks the earth for 4 ½ years. A lot of material I wrote and sing on this album is about my past relationship with her."
In this phase of his long-standing career, Sammie plans to continue to use music as his vessel to accomplish other life goals.
"I wanna take over the world. I really just wanna establish myself as an elite mainstream artist. I’ve been underground for ten years now, and I’ve found myself sonically and I know what I have to bring to the genre of R&B," Sammie affirms. "I wanna just re-establish myself, my manager calls it "The Hand." There are five slots for me in this age demographic that's open in the R&B world, and I wanna be in the top five of my generation. Then I would love to dabble in acting; going for the big screen. And I’m working on a book called “Good To Know,” which pretty much gives women insight into a man's mind. It helps us understand one another as opposed to a female thinking like a man. So, I’m using music as a gateway to do everything else that I’m passionate about."
We wanted to hear first directly from Sammie how about what he observes in the mind of a man.
He explained: "It’s all over the place. I really just wanna be a voice for the generation we’re in today. You have Instagram, you have Twitter, you have Snapchat. So women and men are in the palm of our hands every day, I think we need to tap into that subject matter of how to eliminate options and distractions and how to focus on just one woman and vice versa. I think the main thing is us understanding how different we are. Males don’t think like women, women don’t think like men, men don’t feel like women, so I just wanted to express that. And if we take more time to understand our mates, I think we’ll be able to have more healthy relationships. It’s so easy to break up these days ‘cause you feel like the grass is greener on this side, and you always keep these options nearby; we need to eliminate that. But we’re substantially different, and I think this book will tackle just how different we are."
Sammie is about to do big things!
With contrubution from DJ JusMusic