Christmas is coming in October for fans of Sammy Rae & The Friends. The Brooklyn-based group will perform at the Granada on Halloween.
Samantha Bowers, 28, known professionally as Sammy Rae, serves as the band’s frontwoman.
She was described by Studybreaks as “Amy Winehouse’s (metaphorical) punchier younger sister,” but possesses a sound and style truly incomparable to any artist preceding her. Her crystalline voice swings low in the intro to “Jackie Onassis,” makes listeners stand up and dance as she scat sings in her latest release “If It All Goes South” and accompanies her beloved saxophones in “Kick It to Me.”
The band consists of seven members — Sammy Rae and six others who make up “The Friends.” In June of 2018, they debuted with the single track “Kick It to Me,” releasing their first album “The Good Life” less than a month later. Their unique blend of blues, pop, rock and jazz quickly turned heads in the musical world, and they continue to grow in popularity.
“I think our strength is that some of us come from jazz, some of us come from rock and roll, and some of us come from folk,” Bowers said, speaking to us from a food court in Houston.
The band’s tour began in Philadelphia on Oct. 13 and will conclude in the United Kingdom on Feb. 4.
“We’re kind of growing up with and in front of our audience,” Bowers said.
Bowers, who grew up in Derby, Connecticut, started performing in her local theater when she was 7. She was playing the piano and writing her own songs by 12. She idolized the greats, and her work was heavily influenced by artists like Billy Joel, Ella Fitzgerald and Bruce Springsteen.
At 19, she moved to New York City to study at Manhattan College, working three jobs to get by and singing at open mic nights whenever she could.
Although Bowers has described her first year in Brooklyn as the most difficult period of her life, she never entertained the idea that her musical career wouldn’t work out.
“When I was in small-town Connecticut, I could sing, and I was like, ‘That’s great,’” Bowers said. “But when I got to New York, suddenly I was a very small fish in a very big pond. I was going to see shows, and I was like, ‘Oh, I have that type of talent. It’s not just that I’m the most talented kid in the small town — I have that kind of talent.’”
Sammy Rae & The Friends have more than 742,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, and their most popular song, “Kick It to Me,” has been played more than 17 million times. They’ve sold out shows in New York City, Boston, Seattle, Philadelphia and beyond.
“I have no idea what’s going on in Lawrence,” Bowers said. “We’re excited to spend Halloween with you all.”
Tickets for the show begin at $25 and are available to purchase at this link. The Granada will open its doors at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31, and the concert will start at 8.
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Chloe Anderson (she/her) contributed to The Lawrence Times from August 2022 through May 2023. She is also published in Climbing magazine, Kansas Reflector and Sharp End Publishing. As a recent graduate of the University of Kansas, Chloe plans to continue her career in photography, rock climbing and writing somewhere out West.
You can view her portfolio, articles and commissioned work here. Check out more of her work for the Times here.