If someone had chosen to create an answer to the dry, formulaic muzak currently dominating the charts, then they couldn’t have done a better job than Samm Henshaw. The South London based artist is as different to the current industry paradigm as it is possible to get. Henshaw’s music is rich, deep and heartfelt, all the things that current chart music is not.
The son of a Nigerian Reverend, Henshaw’s first love, appropriately enough, was gospel. The young Londoner grew up listening to the likes of Stevie Wonder and The Winans and those influences are reflected in the music the artist now creates.
Take his current single for instance. Church begins with hands clapping and the sound of a gospel choir singing in unison. The song sounds like an eclectic mix of Arrested Development, early period Kanye and a gospel standard. It’s an intoxicating mix and one that seems likely to bring the South Londoner to a far greater degree of recognition.
Lyrically, the song recalls mother Henshaw’s battle to get her young son to go to church. “She says, good morning, wake up, wake up and get yourself to church!” says the South Londoner recalling the experience.
Henshaw was unwittingly encountering what the children of religious people commonly experience, the unpleasant feeling of having religion forced upon you. The singer says of the period: “my fight with my parents was, ‘Listen, if you really want me to be into this, and get it, let me do it for myself.’ Henshaw subsequently decided to stop going to church however, in recent years the artist has begun going on a weekly basis after finally finding religion himself.
Henshaw signed to Columbia records in 2015 with his debut album released shortly after. The critically acclaimed Sound Experiment was followed by 2016’s The Sound Experiment 2. These releases have been interspersed with a series of singles (Our Love, Doubt) and a variety of live performances. This has included live dates with such luminaries as James Bay and Chance the Rapper, both of whom personally handpicked Henshaw to join their tours.
The Samm Henshaw live experience has quickly become characterised by the quality of the singer’s vocal performances as well as for the intimate connection that Henshaw forges with his audience.
All of this bodes exceptionally well for the South Londoner’s headline show at Brixton’s The Electric in May 2019. I, for one, can hardly wait.
Samm Henshaw at the Electric, Brixton is taking place on the 16th May 2019.
Tickets to see Samm Henshaw live at the Electric can be purchased here.
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