At only twenty years old, Sam Mooney has already become a #1-selling iTunes Singer/Songwriter, performed from Los Angeles to Boston, and won the nation’s largest amateur youth talent competition. His soulful brand of pop music has earned critical and commercial success and has drawn comparisons to artists such as John Mayer, Eric Hutchinson, Maroon 5, and Gavin Degraw.
Born and raised as one of seven children in Brookhaven, Mississippi, Mooney was greatly influenced by the music of his home region. His CD collection as a child consisted primarily of early R&B pioneers such as Ray Charles, Dr. John, B.B. King and more. The influence of these artists can still be heard in Mooney’s distinctively soulful vocals and piano playing. Mooney started playing the piano at eight years old and began writing songs as a teen. He started off writing instrumental blues piano jams, but as his exposure to the wider world of music continued to grow, he began to write songs in almost every genre.
In 2013, Mooney burst onto the Mississippi music scene by winning several talent shows in the state. In May of that year, Mooney’s performance at the Mississippi Spring Fest and Fair talent show earned him an invitation to compete in the Mid-South Fair Youth Talent Competition, which is hailed as the nation’s largest amateur youth talent competition. Out of thousands of contestants across an eight state region, Sam was one of over 250 who were selected to make the trip to Memphis to compete at the fair in September. Mooney’s powerful arrangement of the Alex Claire hit “Too Close” propelled him all the way to the finals, where he became the 2013 Grand Award Winner. The win earned him $2,000 and a trip to Los Angeles to tour CBS Studios and meet with entertainment industry professionals.
During the summer of 2013, Mooney attended and completed the Five-Week Performance Program at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. During his time at Berklee, Mooney entered his original song, “The Love You Never Knew” into a competition to be featured in the Berklee Performing Songwriter Showcase in downtown Boston. The song was selected as one of ten winners for the showcase, earning Mooney a spot in the showcase and a chance to perform in the Berklee Performance Center. On July 31st, 2013 Mooney performed the song to a packed house and great reviews.
With accolades beginning to mount for both his songwriting and performing abilities, Mooney set out to reach a wider audience with his original music. In the spring of 2014, he teamed up with BlueSky Studios producer/engineer Casey Combest to record his debut EP, Somewhere in Between. On July 15th, 2014, Somewhere in Between was released internationally. Within hours of the release, the EP began a remarkable rise to the top of the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Chart. The album reached #1 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter EP Chart and additionally reached the Top 10 of the Singer/Songwriter Albums Chart. The EP went on to spawn three particularly successful singles: Heartbreaker, The Love You Never Knew, and Somewhere in Between; all of which received notable airplay on college and terrestrial radio stations in the south.
Mooney spent the rest of the summer of 2014 on the road promoting Somewhere in Between through a self-booked tour of TV performances, concerts, and radio interviews.
Mooney relocated to Oxford, Mississippi when he enrolled at The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in fall 2014. Between classes, Mooney spent the first half of 2015 primarily collaborating with other artists in the thriving Oxford music scene as well as booking his first tour. Mooney hit the road in May of 2015 for a twenty-five date summer tour in the southeast. The tour was highlighted by headline dates at a number of premiere festivals and venues including Hard Rock Cafe Memphis, Brookstock, Jackson’s Hal & Mal’s, and southwest Mississippi’s Red, White & Blue Bash, among others.
In January 2016, Mooney teamed up again with producer Casey Combest to record the follow-up to Sam’s chart-topping debut. Mooney premiered a few of the new songs as well as a new band in March at his second consecutive over-capacity show at the Hard Rock in Memphis.
After three months of production, Find My Way was released internationally on April 5th, 2016. Like it’s predecessor, Find My Way found instant success on the iTunes Charts, giving Mooney his second straight Singer/Songwriter Top 10 album as it peaked at #8. The album also went on to reach #3 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter EP chart, giving Mooney another Top 5 EP. Beyond the commercial success, Find My Way has received very positive reviews from critics.
In support of Find My Way, Mooney and his band embarked on the “Mississippi in the Spring Tour”, a nine-date tour named after the closing track on the EP. As the name suggests, the tour covered Sam’s home state of Mississippi, with shows at many of the state’s most prestigious venues and festivals. Packed houses were the norm during the tour, as Mooney’s rapidly growing following could be clearly seen at each performance. The tour ended with high-profile festival appearances at the Mississippi Spring Fest and Fair followed by RiverStock in historic Natchez, Mississippi. Additionally, Mississippi Public Broadcasting and Mooney teamed up to film his Duling Hall concert for a later airing on the MPB series, Amped and Wired. To cap off a successful spring, Mooney released a video of an intimate performance of his song Mississippi in the Spring which quickly amassed over 15,000 views on Facebook.
As of summer 2016, Mooney is back on the road promoting Find My Way with a solo tour in the southeastern United States. His band will be joining him again in the fall!
Aside from his solo career, Mooney has become an in-demand session and touring musician, often serving as a guest background vocalist and pianist for many popular acts. Sam hosts the “Mississippi Music Hour” on Rebel Radio in Oxford, MS. Away from his music, Sam is an avid traveler, outdoorsman, Eagle Scout and a sports fanatic. He is an Integrated Marketing Communications major at Ole Miss where he is a junior.