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About Sam Smith

It’s hard to think of many artists in 21st-century pop who could match the vulnerability of Sam Smith. “I’ve never shied away from telling the truth in my music,” Smith told Apple Music in 2020. “Music is literally my best friend; it’s a release, a form of diary and therapy.”

Born in London in 1992 and raised in Cambridgeshire, Smith first began gaining significant traction with a pair of dance hits—Disclosure’s “Latch” in 2012 and Naughty Boy’s “La La La” the following year. They revealed that elastic falsetto, but didn’t quite hint at the sadness that would define Smith's outrageous success to come. That arrived with 2014’s Grammy-winning In the Lonely Hour, an exquisite meditation on unrequited love, and its 2017 follow-up, the heartbreak-inspired The Thrill of It All. This second album saw Smith—by then an Oscar winner for the James Bond theme “Writing’s on the Wall”—open up about instant fame and embrace their status as a gay role model, against a backdrop of stirring, gospel-infused balladry. It has always been clear that Smith’s power lies as much in that voice as in an unwavering bravery to put their innermost feelings—loneliness, confusion, desperation, desire—on full public view.

By the run-up to album three, Smith was also ready to have a little more fun. The emotional journey culminating in 2019’s announcement that they identified as nonbinary (which came after another raw breakup) was being mined for invigorating music to dance the heartbreak away. “I think I was sadder in 2019 than I have probably ever been,” Smith told Apple Music, before the COVID-19 crisis arrived. “But making sad songs when you’re sad, then going on tour and singing sad songs, ends in just more sadness. It was exciting for me to try and channel that feeling into something that would make people dance—and make me dance, more importantly. A lot of my life—probably because of a lot of internalized queerphobia, and queerphobia around me—I felt ashamed of myself and not being able to fully be myself through my music. Each time I make an album, I learn to like myself a little more. The more I make music, the closer to myself I feel.”