There are no sure things in music — but Samantha Schultz is about the closest you’ll ever get.
One listen to her bluesy folk debut, Both Sides, and you know the 16-year-old is destined for greatness. Not only does she write touching songs about love and family, she also sings with the wisdom and confidence of an old soul.
“Since she was younger, she was always more introspective,” says her mom, Marie. “She’s more of a watcher. She’s good at looking at all points of views.”
In a world filled with ditzy, party girls, it’s no wonder industry types across North America are lining up to work with Schultz, who’s in Grade 11 at Victoria School of Performing and Visual Arts. She’s the next Joss Stone, Norah Jones and Amy Winehouse all rolled into one gorgeous — and refreshingly mature — package.
“I officially started thinking about what the music business was all about when I was 11, when I had taken lessons for singing, taken lessons for guitar and written my first song,” says Schultz.
“It was something I really, really enjoyed doing, so I started going to open stages and it’s gone from there.”
That’s an understatement. In 2006, Schultz was nominated as Young Performer of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, thanks to sets at the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose and various folk festivals.
For all her composure, she admits her first “official” gig started off on a rocky note. At 13, she faced her only test of nerves when she opened for blues vocalist Ruthie Foster at the Full Moon Folk Club.
“I had seen the venue earlier — with all the chairs and all the tables — I knew how many people were supposed to be there,” says Schultz.
“I walked out onstage and nothing could prepare meforthe shock of howmanypeoplewere there staring at me. I was like, ‘Hi, can you just give me a second to recuperate?’ They were so great about it, too. The rest of the show went reallywell,andRuthieFosterwassosupportive.”
Local radio stations and veteran musicians are also getting behind Schultz. Bassist Mike Lent and vocalist/guitarist Mark Sterling produced her debut, Both Sides, at 10th Street Studios last year. CKUA and Magic 99 are now playing her songs, including The Truth, a bluesy, upbeat love number.
Several of her tunes are inspired by her family. Emily’s Song was written for her younger sister, while Dark Eyes and Dark Hair started off as a love poem written by her dad to her mom.
“I’m so family-oriented, I couldn’t be doing this without my parents and my sister,” says Schultz. “They’ve been so great about everything, and just to be able to write songs for them is something I like to do.”
Earlier this week, Schultz and her momflew to New York to meet with music publishers who want to license her songs to films and TV shows.
She fields weekly calls from agents, managers andlabelexecutives,butSchultzandherparents aren’t in arushtosign anycontracts. They’re still learning theins andoutsoftheindustry, plus she knows she doesn’t need a record deal to sell albums.
With the help of cdbaby.com, she has already sold hundreds of copies of Both Sides to fans around the world.
“It’s really easy, it’s accessible and it’s simple to get your music out there nowadays,” says Schultz. “If I could only stay at this level for the rest of my career, I’d be content.”