When you hear the name Sammie, you probably think of that aborable little kid with the wide smile singing the upbeat track “I Like It.”
The R&B singer burst on the scene in the year 2000 at the tender age of 12 with two top 10 singles “I Like It” and “Crazy Things I Do For Love.” At 13, his album From The Bottom To The Top went gold.
Now 26, little Sammie is not so little anymore. After a hiatus and a label switch, he’s all grown up and ready to step back into the limelight as an independent artist under his own label, Star Camp Ent.
In addition to working on an EP and an album, he’s adding songwriting for other artists to his repertoire. He most recently penned the Tank single “Next Breath,” nominated for an SESAC award, and is set to write songs for artists like Robin Thicke, Jacob Lattimore, and Christina Milian.
In light of the untimely death of Chris Kelly of Kris Kross, theGrio asked Sammie to share a bit of his advice to child stars. Sammie also opens up to us about what he’s been up to over the years, the impact of being a child star, and even some of the crazy things he’s done for love.
theGrio: Congratulations on the SESAC nomination, how does it feel?
Sammie: I’m excited for the opportunity. We wrote an amazing record last year for Tank and it did very well for him, so I’m just excited and ecstatic to be a part of it.
Have you been doing a lot of song writing lately?
Yea actually I am going to the studio this weekend to pen a few things for Jacob Latimore’s next project. I have the opportunity to write for Robin Thicke’s album currently and Christina Milian. Those are like my top priority lists currently. So I’m excited that I’m able to expand outside of just being an artist and performer into the song-writing avenue.
How long have you been writing for other artists now?
Tank last year was my first placement outside of myself. But I’ve written all of my material from my second album up until today. So when the Tank record took off that actually put me in a different mindset that I could actually tap into someone else’s world and convey the same emotions that they’re trying to. This is actually me stepping out into something new. I always wanted to be multifaceted as far as being a songwriter and singer. I never wanted to be one-dimensional. I wanted to take my talents and expand them as far as I could.
What are you doing to rebuild and revamp your brand and career?
Unfortunately I feel like the music industry is on the decline right now. Specifically speaking in the R&B genre. So I signed myself to myself in 2009. Star Camp music is the entity. I’m not saying I’m opposed or wouldn’t go back to a major, but I just want to be in control and have my own sound and develop my own buzz going solo with me and my camp as opposed to signing to a major and them telling me who to be. I’ve been in the business long enough, I have a fan base and they love me and embrace me for who I am. That’s the sole reason and sole purpose for me starting my own foundation.
Currently working this record entitled Put It In featuring my homie Blake Kelly. We just shot the video in LA. [It’s going to be on] MTV Jams and BET next month, so I’m excited about that. This is all indie, so we’re moving major, and making major moves but it’s an indie situation. I love to be hands on with my business. I can take the blame for anything that goes good or bad, I can deal with that as opposed to it being somebody else’s fault.
You first became known at age of 12 with the top 10 single “I Like It” but after that you took a bit of a break. The question on everyone’s minds when they hear Sammie is ‘where has he been?’ Is it a struggle to step out from the shadows of your younger self?
It’s not tough at all. I think because of that reason, I haven’t been out consistently or frequently like most artists you see. So my first time out was the ages of 12 through 15, that’s “I Like It,” “Crazy Things I Do For Love” and “Hardball.” So that was from the years of ‘99 to 2001. My first “hiatus” was just to go back to school and have a sense of normalcy. My life changed substantially after I went platinum after the age of 13. I am 26 now and I never wanted to look back on my childhood just to realize I didn’t have a childhood. That was the reason I “disappeared” the first time.