Throughout the 12 songs on his debut album Angelina, Sam Shupak delivers stories of heartbreak, love, home and more. And throughout those 12 songs, Shupak taps in to both traditional and contemporary sounds, something he describes as his artistic identity.
And while he sonically makes a statement on Angelina, Shupak hopes that the lyrics to the songs take listeners away from their current being as they make their way through the album. Just a few weeks removed from the album’s release and a year and a half since the album’s lead single “Something Blue” was released, Shupak is already seeing results. Both “Something Blue” and the album’s second single, “Smooth Sailing” charted in the top 50, and his newest single “Her Own Kind of Beautiful” is currently climbing the charts.
Hear from Shupak as he describes his chart success, what he hopes listeners take away from Angelina, what he learned from opening for Granger Smith, and more!
Pro Country: Who are some of your biggest musical influences that have shaped your sound?
Sam Shupak: Growing up in the 90s/00s, I listened to a lot of great country music! I love some good fiddle and steel guitar. I feel like those instruments can really add a true country sound to a song. But just to name a few artists that really inspired me to pursue country music would be Alan Jackson, Mark Chesnutt, Clint Black, and of course George Strait.
PC: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
SS: I didn’t really think about doing music as a full-time job until sometime around 2013. At that time, I was a full-time college student and opening up for a lot of big Texas acts on the weekends. A lot of those guys encouraged me to stick with it and continue to grow. Before I knew it, my calendar was filling up and I was playing all over the place.
PC: What went in to the decision to release “Something Blue” as the lead single from your debut album Angelina?
SS: You know, the decision to release ‘Something Blue” was honestly an easy one for me. I spent the better part of 4 years in Nashville learning and writing songs, and when we wrote that one, I knew it was something special. The minute it was finished, I knew that I just had to get it out there and let the fans hear it.
PC: “Something Blue” has amassed more than 46,000 streams on Spotify and nearly 25,000 more views on YouTube, and also charted in the top 40 on Music Row’s chart.. What did having that success on the album’s lead single mean to you?
SS: It meant a great deal to me. It’s kind of hard to describe, but I’ll do my best to try [laughs]. I hate predict or say how well a song will or will not do, but I know a good song when I hear one. So to have “Something Blue” resonate as well as it did with as many people as it did was really a special thing for me. It made all the hard work and long hours spent traveling across the country well worth it. There really is no better feeling than to have people love your song that you wrote and recorded. It’s the best thing there is for a songwriter.
PC: After the success of “Something Blue,” were you feeling any kind of pressure to match/surpass that success with “Smooth Sailing”?
SS: That’s a good question. You always want to build on top of previous success, and that is what the goal is. But just like in the last question, I’ve always felt like a good song is a good song. I think right now “Smooth Sailing” is all the way up to number 45, which is just great to me. Having back to back songs eclipse the top 50 is just amazing, there’s no other way to put it. I couldn’t be more proud of it honestly.
PC: What went in to the decision to release “Her Own Kind of Beautiful” as your latest single?
SS: “Her Own Kind of Beautiful” is a really special song. The moment I heard it, I knew I needed to record it. I felt like for my sound and who I am as an artist, it just fit perfectly. It has all the elements I look for in a song from solid lyrics to a good country foundation. And really, the main reason I chose to release it is because of the message it sends, which is right in the title. Be your own kind of beautiful. Everyone has their own uniqueness about them, and at the end of the day, that’s what makes us who we are, and that’s our own kind of beauty.
PC: “Angelina” closes the album on an up-tempo, rocking note. Why did you decide to name the album after that song?
SS: Another great question! I chose to make “Angelina” the title track to the album because it’s where I’m from. Angelina is a county in east Texas where I live, but in the context of the song, it’s actually the name of a girl. So I thought it would be kind of cool to include my roots and where I’m from not only in the song, but with the album title as well. I chose to put it last on the album because I wanted to leave people with a good, upbeat tune. It seems to me a lot of other artists and albums tend to end with a calm and slow song maybe to sort of “wind down” their albums, so decided I’d go and break the mold and be different with a fast song to wrap up the album.
PC: Throughout the Angelina album, you feature both traditional and contemporary country sounds. Was it at all important for you to showcase that versatility in your sound on your debut album?
SS: You know, I really think that’s who I am as an artist; a blend of traditional and contemporary country. I definitely wanted to show folks my versatility and what I can do, but more importantly, I want people who listen to all these songs to know who I am and what kind of country music I enjoy making.
PC: What do you hope listeners take away from the Angelina record after listening all the way through?
SS: I hope that the listeners will get a sense of who I am. There’s no real overlying message to my entire album, but I want each individual song to put the listener in a place. Whether it’s happy or sad, it’s an experience that has shaped me and my music, and again, I just hope that there’s something there that everyone can relate to.
PC: You opened for Granger Smith in 2015. What were you able to take away from that experience and learn about yourself that has helped you in your own career since?
SS: I learned so much from my time I spent with Granger. I could literally go on for hours [laughs]. But to take away a few key points, I learned how much hard work it really takes to do it at that level. Even with a team. It’s just an incredible amount of hard work and effort. I also learned the vast reach that country music has. There were people from all over the country who would line up to hear us play. I would never have imagined there would be so many country music fans both in big cities like Los Angeles and in small, isolated towns like Butte, Montana.
PC: What are your plans for the rest of 2019 and beyond?
SS: My plans for the rest of 2019 and beyond are to just hit the road running and rock it out! I’m already booking dates for next spring and fall, and I’m ready to hit the road and get to town near you. I’m also gearing up and getting material ready for album number two.
*Images courtesy of Sam Shupak and Sam Shupak Facebook Page*