Samara Joy is a talented 22-year-old looking to make her case as the next jazz singing sensation. Joy’s rich and velvety voice has already earned her fans like Anita Baker and Regina King, appearances on the “TODAY” show and millions of likes on TikTok — cementing her status as perhaps the first Gen Z jazz singing star.
On Nov. 7, Joy performed at the Blue Note in New York City and sang music from her debut album, Linger Awhile, which was recently released on Verve Records. Joy spoke with rolling out ahead of her performance about what she has coming next in her career.
Seeing your name on the Blue Note list, did you ever expect to be here at a young age?
No. I was surrounded by music growing up, and I always loved singing and imitating singers. Just being surrounded by it growing up was always a part of my life, but to have the opportunity to express it through jazz out of all genres that I didn’t really grow up listening to, this is the one where I feel like I found my home. I couldn’t have imagined it but I’m very glad that this is how it’s playing out.
What is it about jazz that interests you?
I think it’s a mixture of things. When I first started listening to it, I kind of had to get adjusted to it in a way because it’s not at the forefront of radio and I don’t think it has been known for being necessarily popular music. When I first started listening to it and getting into the singers and musicians, I was like, “This is so cool.” I never imagined that I’d be accustomed to that sound and [think], “Wow, I really enjoy this.” There’s a lot of jazz fusion with electric instruments and things like that, but I think acoustic specifically is really cool for me because I love singers. To just be flatfoot with musicians behind me acoustically with no effects or anything like that, I guess I really enjoy it. I feel like I’m learning a lot about myself through this genre.
What message do you want to get across with your music?
The message that I want to get across is that regardless of the different places that we come from and backgrounds and experiences, we all have shared experiences. We all have similar stories in one way or another. I try to connect the stories that I tell about love and stuff like that and try to bring the audience in. It’s not like I’m singing at anybody, but I want to make it a collective and I want it to be a warm, intimate experience.