Miami's preteen R&B singer Sammie was exposed to music even before he was born. His mother, a former professional singer, sang in the church choir while she was carrying him. Fittingly, Sammie's first singing triumph also occurred at church; at age four, he received a standing ovation for his performance of "Troubles Don't Last Always." Music was never far from Sammie's mind, even at school; teachers would catch him singing under his breath during classes, but encouraged his talent. Eventually, a music teacher from Charles Drew Elementary, a nearby magnet school with a special performing arts program, heard of Sammie's vocal gifts and he transferred there at the start of third grade. Soon after, he formed a vocal group, the Wonder 3, with two junior high boys. Sammie's music teacher was so impressed with their performances that she sent a videotape of them to the television program Showtime at the Apollo, which led to an audition for the group and a 1998 solo performance for Sammie. Ultimately winning the show's finals, Sammie and his mother were contacted by Joyce Irby, an agent connected to Atlanta-based producer/songwriter Dallas Austin, who has worked with Monica and Another Bad Creation. Austin brought Sammie to his studios for some demos and almost a year later, had him return to record his debut album, From the Bottom to the Top, which was released in early 2000 by Capitol Records. Six years later, Austin signed him to his reactivated Rowdy label and released his self-titled album.
~ Heather Phares