Country Champion: Sam Williams
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Baylen Leonard's Country Champion: Sam Williams

By Baylen Leonard

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I first met Sam Williams over a year ago when he came running, panting, into my radio studio for our interview. It was sweet that he cared enough to be worried about being late; most interviewees are always late, it’s just part of the game. Yet what made it more impressive was that he had ran across central London in a brand new pair of Lucchese cowboy boots. Anyone who’s ever had a new pair of boots will understand the pain. I already liked his early demos and music, but as he gulped a bottle of water and tried to catch his breath, it was clear this was a guy that wasn’t resting on his family name - he took things seriously.

The grandson of Hank Williams and son of Hank Jr, Sam is already country music royalty - but he’s standing on his own two feet. His new music is instantly captivating, emotive and surprising, we can’t wait to see what he does next.

Just like those boots, his music is getting better and better with every step he takes.

Where are you from and has that influenced the type of artist you are?

I’m from a small town called Paris, Tennessee, about two hours from Nashville. Oftentimes people think I grew up in the limelight, but I kind of grew up in a small town, rather low-key and had somewhat of a normal childhood, went to public school, and I think that allowed me to stay humble. At the same time, it also instilled a drive in me to get out of there and chase dreams.

Speaking of influences, what were you listening to growing up?

I listened to some country and I was listening to Sirius XM in the car with my parents, sitting in the backseat with my headphones on. I listened to lot of pop music; I loved Justin Timberlake and Rihanna, when R&B and hip-hop took over the mainstream. And I was a big Drake fan at the beginning. I enjoy all types of music and as time progressed I’ve grown an appreciation for songwriters like Lori McKenna, and one of my favourite co-writers, Mary Gauthier. I listened to a lot of different kinds of music growing up, especially pop.

Did you ever want to do something other than music?

I always get asked that, and it felt like something that was always going to come to the surface regardless of how I tried to fight it – or if I’d gone to college for something else. I was into business and politics, and I think that the legacy put in place by my dad and my grandfather is just heavy, and there’s a lot of expectations. For a long time I was scared of not living up to them. Then at a certain point I just had to accept that I don’t have to… but I can do it my own way, and be proud of carrying it on however I do.

Are you more creative when you’re happy or when you’re sad?

I’ve never thought about that, but I’d say I’m more creative when I’m happy. When I’m sad it’s harder to pinpoint what it is I want to say, but those times also help you get perspective on things that you’re going through and how they relate to other people. So I’m going to go with happy… probably!

In general which comes first for you, the title or the song?

Very rarely does the title come before the song for me. The chorus might come first, with the title being in the chorus. But no, usually the verses start the storytelling for me. The title of the song just reveals itself. On ‘Can’t Fool Your Own Blood’ I wanted to talk about family, drama, demons and battles with adversity, and as I was writing the verse I came up with that line and it just really clicked with me and made a lot of sense.

Night owl or early bird?

Night owl for sure. What time am I up until? An average of about 2am, usually.

Who would be your dream collaboration?

I’ve always looked up to Miley Cyrus, she has one of the most incredible tones I’ve ever heard and she is very in charge of her image and what she puts out to the world. I just admire her voice and personality, and I think we could make something really cool. And I have one other collaboration that was definitely a dream for me, that has happened, and it will be on my album when it comes out. But I’m not going to say what that one is!

What’s next?

Right now it’s getting these next couple of singles out and getting my first album out, and we’re in the process of finishing all the creative stuff, like the artwork. We’re hoping for April or May for the album. I guess when – and if – Covid goes away, we’ll see if we can get some shows on the books, and play to people. But I’m just not sure yet.

‘Can’t Fool Your Own Blood’, Sam Williams new single, is out now - listen below: