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Samara Joy on her ‘fast authentic’ success

Samara Joy
Meredith Truax
Samara Joy

Accepting her Grammy award for Best New Artist last month, Samara Joy looked out at a sea of faces that she had grown up admiring and said, “I’ve been watching y’all on TV for so long…I’m born and raised in the Bronx.”

It was almost as though she was reminding herself of just how far she had come, and just how quickly. That was a big moment for the 23-year-old singer who was just a year and a half out of college. As she delivered her speech, the camera cut to Lizzo and Adelle, each with a hint of a tear in their eyes.

It was also a big moment for jazz at the Grammys and by extension in the larger popular consciousness (Samara was only the second jazz singer to win the award—Esperanza Spalding was the first). Samara also took home the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal album that night for her album Linger Awhile.

In many ways, Samara Joy’s extremely rapid rise is like a fairy tale. On the other hand, it’s a reminder that sometimes artists arrive just at the right time and meet their moment head on. In this case, it seems that the world was waiting for Samara Joy.

What is like for the 23-year-old to manage so much success so quickly? What must she be feeling right now?

Today Samara Joy will tell us in her own words about where she came from, how she got here, and where she thinks she might be going next. And, she does it all while sitting on the curb in the parking lot behind her hotel in Palm Springs, California, where we caught up with her last month, just a couple weeks after her Grammy success.

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Leo Sidran is a Grammy winning multi-instrumentalist musician, producer, arranger, composer, recording artist and podcast host based in Brooklyn, New York.