Vocalist Samara Joy sounds like she’s been singing for decades, but at only 21 years old, she just released her self-titled debut album.
CapRadio’s Andrew Mills sat down with Samara to discuss her new album, receiving accolades from Academy Award-winning actress Regina King and what keeps her moving forward.
On her experience at the 2019 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition
Leading up to it, I was just getting into my junior year and I didn’t feel ready. I’m not ready to compete with international artists. At first, I didn’t want to do it, but I was like, let’s just try. When I found out that I was a finalist a couple of months later, I was ... completely shocked. Being a finalist, I was just like, OK … that American Idol moment like you’re going to Hollywood. It was a great experience. I mean, it was really something special. I had an amazing time and was in the mindset, let me just sing. I love these songs and I love singing for people. Let me just give it my best shot. The fact that I won. I was like, what?! Are you serious?!
On what keeps her moving forward
My relationship with music comes from my family. My grandparents on my father’s side, they had a choir called The Savettes of Philadelphia. I’ve recently been getting into a lot of their recordings. Just hearing my grandmother singing, and my grandfather. He just turned 91 and he’s still going, still singing. To know that I come from that, that’s what keeps me going. That’s where my love stems from.
On being compared to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan
It’s an honor to hear that people think that. But, whenever I hear them, I’m like, OK, I got a long way to go. I’m still learning and studying these wonderful singers and constantly being inspired by them. Any time I find a new recording or a song just hits me in a different way, like just listening to Sarah Vaughan singing “Stairway to the Stars” on “Live at Mister Kelly’s”, her natural storytelling and her voice! It’s just … it’s a constant source of inspiration.
On learning she has a fan in Oscar winning actress Regina King
I was taking a break from social media. I only went on those platforms to check if I had messages about gigs. Just check my messages and go. I saw a message that was like, “Regina King was so right. You’re really great!” And I was like, Regina King? I checked Google, put her name and my name in and the Hollywood Reporter came up. The transcript from the video had her saying my name and I just skipped through that video so fast. I was like, where is it, where is it, where is it? I think the question was, “how have you been coping during the pandemic,” because this was a virtual roundtable. Regina King said, I really love this singer and I recently discovered this young woman, she looks like she’s about 16 years old. Her name is Samara Joy. I was like, (gasps… laughs). I cannot even believe that she said my name! Then I proceeded to watch it 50 more times and every single time I got goosebumps.