Sammy C. - Music Industry's Newest Sensation!
From the first time I saw Sammy C. on the music competition reality show, The Voice, I was struck by two aspects of his performance: the musical quality to his voice that easily moved from rap to singing, and the compelling emotion he displays while performing.
It was while interviewing him that I realized, Sammy C. is an 18 year old inspirational entertainer who is determined to do his part to change the world for the better and empower his peers who may have self esteem issues, or challenges at home and at school.
It is a calling of sorts, due to an early challenge in his own life, when he discovered he had a disease known as Alopecia areata. Alopecia is a disease that causes hair loss when the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, where hair growth begins.
The damage to the follicle is usually not permanent. Experts do not know why the immune system attacks the follicles, and it is most common in people younger than 20, but children and adults of any age may be affected.
It is a disease that cannot be "cured" but it can be treated.
Having Alopecia triggered Sammy C's passion for his music and life, and for helping others work through challenges.
In 2014, Sammy C. shared his personal experience with Alopecia in a speech at the National Alopecia Areata Foundation Conference ~ NAAF.
NAAF supports research to find a cure or acceptable treatment for Alopecia areata, and supports those with the disease through its conferences and education (https://www.naaf.org).
"I had an absolutely amazing time performing and speaking at the NAAF Conference this year! Got to meet hundreds with my disease. I spoke on how our destiny is in our differences, but also on how our destiny takes dedication.
I also talked about being disappointed in life, and how disappointment or failure is really a crossroad ~ meaning that there are two choices when it comes. You can choose to sulk and give up, or choose to use that disappointment as perseverance But in order to do that, it requires faith in something you can't see, and hope in something you can't hold. It requires strength in something you can't feel," says Sammy.
Sammy will continue to speak at NAAF events wherever he can because of the positive impact he can have with young people who may be suffering with low self-esteem from having the disease.
Sammy will also be joining his fellow artist at Music Development Incorporated (MDI), Mallywood Malachi, at one of Los Angeles' largest rallies against teenage bullying, called, "Anti-Bully Fair and Concert".
The event is produced by Peace in the Streets, an organization whose officials are ecstatic to have such gifted teenagers like Sammy C. and Mallywood, perform with positive messages in their music.
Musically, Sammy C. (whose full name name is Samuel Picou), is a natural entertainer. His early, and perhaps most influential mentor, is his father, Chris Picou.
Chris spent several years touring as a rapper himself during his teens. He performed all across Europe and across the United States. This helped lay the foundation for Sammy's love and pursuit of music.
It was producer, Jay Shanklin, of Music Development Incorporated (MDI) in Irvine, CA, who saw Sammy's performance on Season 5 of The Voice. Jay immediately went to his partner, multi-platinum songwriter and CEO of MDI, Melanie Andrews, about pursuing Sammy C. for a music collaboration.
Hope Garrett, the daughter of actor Brad Garrett of "Everybody Loves Raymond" fame, actually introduced Sammy to Jay Shanklin after MDI decided they wanted to work with Sammy.
As a songwriter/producer and arranger who started his career as the bass player of the Sony Records R&B group, TEASE, Jay Shanklin has gained a wealth of knowledge from his years as a producer. During this time, some of his higher profile clients included: Herbie Hancock, and Boyz II Men.
What Shanklin witnessed in Sammy C's performance was the same sentiment expressed by show judge, Christina Aguilera; Sammy's undeniable passion in his music was hard to match.
Shanklin immediately reached out to Sammy C. shortly after his appearance on The Voice, where Sammy used that experience to fuel his songwriting efforts.
Sammy teamed up with Jay at Music Development Incorporated (MDI) to co-produce his first full length LP, "O.C. Fella."
Very pleased with this collaboration, Shanklin says, “Get ready, this boy ain’t playin’!” “Sammy is a prolific songwriter and artist and has huge potential in this business!”
Sammy C. is poised to be the music industry's next big sensation, but it is his sheer passion for life and desire to make a difference in other people's lives, that will become his greatest legacy.
Q&A with Sammy C
(Q) Sammy, you are only 18 years old, but you perform, sing, and rap like someone who has been performing for years. At what age did you know you wanted to be a performer?
(A) I really knew that I wanted to be an entertainer when I was 15, which was before I auditioned to be on the voice. I remember those long days and nights in my little closet studio working hard on my music. Since 15 I've believed and worked hard to achieve my dream of becoming the greatest entertainer this world will ever see. At a young age I had faith in something I couldn't see, but it was, and still is, enough for me to believe anything's possible.
(Q) How did you get on the show, The Voice, and what was that experience like for you?
(A) On The Voice, there is more that you must go through in order to make it to the big stage that millions of viewers see on T.V. There are multiple auditions and each on is more nerve racking than the last. The first audition was at the LA Convention Center. After waiting in line all day, contestants were to sing one song to the judge, and if she or he liked the contestant, they would move on to the next audition. Once I made it past the first audition, I went to the second one, which was located at SIR Studios In LA. Miraculously I made it again and was on to the third audition which was at a hotel in-front of Mark Burnett and some producers and executive producers of the show. After performing "treasure" by Bruno Mars "I wont give up" by Jason Maraz and "I want you back" by The Jackson 5, Mark Burnett and his team decided to let me through. I was so excited to be able to perform in front of millions. Unfortunately, I never made it past The Blind Auditions part of the show, but I did learn something. I learned that sometimes we can't control what happens to us in this life, but we can control the way we react to it. So a day after I met face to face with disappointment, I chose to convert that disappointment into fuel for success.
(Q) How did you meet Jay Shanklin and Melanie Andrews of Melody Makers/Music Development Incorporated?
(A) I met Jay and Mel through one of their clients Hope Garrett, who saw me on The Voice and wanted me to feature on her song. Hope Garret is actually the daughter of famous actor Brad Garrett, So I thought it would be a great opportunity to get some more exposure. Melanie contacted me, via Facebook, about the opportunity and I said yes of course! The next week or so I was in the studio with my dad recording my feature on her single. In the studio I met big time producer Jay Shanklin, and spoke with him about putting together an EP.
(Q) When is your new CD going to be released?
(A) Just added some new music I am very excited about, but my CD/EP will be released soon! As soon as I know the exact date, I'll definitely post it.
(Q) Do you think having Alopecia areata has helped you with your positive outlook and your passion in your music?
(A) I think what I have is a gift. Its been tough over the years, but now I proudly embrace Alopecia. Alopecia is a part of me, its my signature thing that sets me apart. My destiny is in my difference, so whether it be inspirational speaking to thousands who are going through hard time, or performing a song about the challenging things I'm going through in life, my alopecia will always be the common denominator, and the tool used to give answers and hope, to those in desperate need of it.
(Q) How old were you when you found out you had Alopecia?
(A) I was diagnosed with Alopecia when I was only 2 years old, but I discovered I had alopecia around 5th grade.
(Q) How did speaking and performing at NAAF come about? Will you be speaking at other events for them?
(A) The NAAF speaking came about the same way I met Mel and Jay and Hope. I got a call from Gary, the head of the NAAF Organization and he invited me to come speak. Now I had never spoken in-front of people before, but i felt that I really had a story to tell so I accepted his invitation to speak. This summer I will be going back to San Antonio to speak again, it should be fun!
(Q) You are only 17 and a senior in High School. What are your plans after graduation?
(A) I plan to possibly go to UCLA and take classes about the music business.
(Q) Where do you see yourself in 5 years with your music career?
(A) I see myself touring and inspirational speaking all over the globe.
(Q) If you could be anything else beside an entertainer, what would that be?
(A) I would probably be an Inspirational Speaker, or I'd be a producer or maybe even a DJ.
(Q) Finally, what would you like to say to those who have a disease and believe their disease will never allow them to pursue their dreams?
(A) I would say that no matter where you are in life, no matter what you look like, how old you are, or even how young you are there are always two recipes for success. A good plan and a good execution of that plan, will get you to your dreams. Believe in yourself, and you will achieve your vision. Don't let anything or anyone stop making your dreams or dream a true reality.
"Dream Big! And never let anyone stop you from reaching your destiny!"
Sammy C on "The Voice"
O.C. Fella from Sammy C's forthcoming CD
"O.C. Fella" (Official Music Video)
Sammy C ~ "Let It Go"
Sammy C's, 'Eh Yo' & 'O.C. Fella' Preview
Sammy C speaking at the National Alopecia Areata Conference in 2014
Sammy C performs at the O.C. Pop Concert
Ro Shon Fegan & Sammy C at the after party of the O.C. Pop Concert
Sammy C takes the stage in concert at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2015
Sammy C's Music Development Inc ~ MDI
Sammy C performing at Universal Studios Hollywood
Sammy C & Sabrina Von B. performing duet at the Universal Studios Hollywood show
Sammy C with fellow Music Development Incorporated Artists
Sammy C performing at Universal Studios Hollywood Show.
See & Hear More of Sammy C's music