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Rising UK singer Samm Henshaw: 'I love being Nigerian!'

SAMM'S THE MAN: Singer Henshaw

FUSING SOUL with sprinklings of rock, gospel, jazz and blues, it’s fitting that Samm Henshaw’s debut EP is titled The Sound Experiment.

The 21-year-old rising British singer has already been dubbed one to watch for 2016, after earning mainstream support from Radio 1 and having performed at music festivals such as Parklife and Wireless.

Music-lovers have become familiar with his soulful voice, thanks to his tracks Redemption and Better, and more recently Autonomy (Slave) – a rock-tinged track that features the singer’s supremely powerful vocals in full effect.

And if building a music career wasn’t enough, Henshaw also made time for education, earning a BA (Hons) in Popular Music Performance earlier this year.

Here, the rising singer tells The Voice about the importance of his Nigerian heritage, growing up as the son of a pastor and his passion for connecting with all audiences.

How do you describe your musical style?
Essentially the core will always be soul, however it’s infused with other genres such as rock, gospel, jazz, country, blues, etc.

What music did you grow up listening to?
I grew up on mainly gospel so artists like Kirk Franklin, Alvin Slaughter, Helen Baylor, Ron Kenolly, Fred Hammond and other gospel greats. Also more mainstream acts like Michael Jackson, the Spice Girls and Nsync.

How would you describe the fanbase you’ve earned so far?
I would definitely say it’s a nice mixture of people; there’s really been no limit to age, race or gender, which I truly love. I love that the songs are connecting with people.

You studied Popular Music Performance at university. Was it hard balancing your studies with your music pursuits?
Yes it was rather difficult at times because it was almost impossible to balance gigging and attending lectures at the time. So myself, my parents and my management decided that I should stop doing shows until I completed uni.

To what extent does your Nigerian heritage shape you, either musically or in your day-to-day life?
It’s definitely apparent in my day-to-day life from the food I eat to the jokes I tell. I’m very much in tune with my heritage and I love being Nigerian. We have the best banter in my opinion!

What was it like growing up as the son of a pastor?
I hated it growing up as I felt that the choice to believe in God was not my own and also felt pressured to behave in a way that I did not want to behave. As a result, I became very rebellious and was very anti-religion until I decided to find God for myself and start building my own relationship with Him and allowing my beliefs and my faith to be my own choice, as opposed to it being force-fed down my throat.

Would you say you had a strict upbringing and do you consider yourself a Christian?
No, my parents weren’t overly strict. Looking back, they were just loving and caring but disciplined me where I needed to be disciplined. And yes, I do consider myself a Christian; I do believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and I am also definitely a work in progress!

Did your parents and wider family support your decision to pursue a career in music?
Yes 100 per cent. My family is supportive of anything, as long as it’s wholesome and not negative or demeaning. They also saw I was gifted in the area of music and so definitely encouraged me to pursue it.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?
By the grace of God, my second or possibly third album will be out and I’ll be touring off it.

The Sound Experiment is out now. For more information, visit www.sammhenshaw.com

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