Music & Nightlife

Sam Smith: Mute mermaid no more

Sam Smith will perform at 8 p.m. this Saturday at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Sam Smith will perform at 8 p.m. this Saturday at Time Warner Cable Arena. Capitol Music Group.

Charlotte’s had a stroke of luck. Sam Smith has recovered from his vocal cord surgery back in May in time to play at 8 p.m. Saturday at Time Warner Cable Arena. This is Smith’s eighth show since he began performing again a little over two weeks ago.

As of February, the 23-year-old English crooner has four Grammys under his belt: Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Album for “In the Lonely Hour,” and both Record of the Year and Song of the Year for his single “Stay With Me.”

While Smith was silently recovering, we chatted with him over email. Here’s what we found out about his surgery, his next album, whether or not he’s a “male diva,” and why he wears blazers.

Mute for weeks

For a new chart-topping pop singer, feeling something strange with your voice is terrifying. “I was scared,” Smith said of finding out he needed surgery to fix his vocal cord hemorrhaging. “But in a way relieved I was sorting it out before it got worse.”

Why did it happen? “The way the industry works nowadays, it tends to push pop acts like a machine, and I am not a robot, so I snapped. Not just vocally, but emotionally – I was very stressed and tired. I needed this break.”

Several other performers have undergone the same procedure, like Adele, whom Smith has cited as one of his inspirations. “I spoke to a lot of people (who had the surgery) and everyone was insanely supportive,” he said.

Smith couldn’t speak or sing while he was recovering. “I actually moved (to a new house). Probably not the most relaxing thing, but it definitely kept my mind off everything.” Now, he said, “The Little Mermaid” is his favorite Disney movie: “I can relate to Ariel and her period of not speaking. It’s hard being a mute mermaid, you know.”

No more lonely hours

The one year anniversary of his debut album, “In the Lonely Hour,” was a big day. (Smith tweeted 42 times.) “That day for me was very special. One for me to look back and see ... how far I’ve come as an artist, and emotionally, since I wrote ‘In the Lonely Hour.’ I am no longer lonely and that’s a beautiful thing.”

Despite the success of that album, his next one will not be more of the same. “I am looking to achieve completely different things. ... I hope that it strikes a nerve with as many people as my first did, but I am so aware that I’m not always going to be going through things the world can relate to. Sometimes only a few may relate, and that’s ok with me.”

Honest and timeless

Smith has changed his mind since he told T Magazine in 2014 he’d like to be thought of as a “male diva” who can “float in and out of genres.” He said, “I don’t want to be thought of as a ‘male diva’ anymore. I don’t think deep down I ever did. All I want to be seen as is a real honest artist. Adele and Amy (Winehouse) are and remain to be those things. So I still look up to them, hugely.”

To Smith, the honesty of his music is paramount. “My music is a diary. It will never ever be the same, as my life continues to change so will the content of my music... Stripped. Raw and real.”

Smith is usually seen performing in a blazer – sometimes with a bold patterned shirt underneath or a bit of flair on the lapel, other times just plain black on black. We wanted to know: why the blazers?

“If I’m brutally honest I wore blazers a lot because of my weight. Now that I’ve lost weight I can spice it up. I also want my clothing to complement my music. I try and make songs that will stand the test of time and to me, suiting is a timeless piece of fashion.”

Capwell: 704-358-6194, Twitter: @jessicacapwell

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