Samara Joy is floating high on life right now. The 23-year-old is solidified as one of the premiere jazz singers of the moment and has garnered GRAMMY nominations for Best New Artist and Jazz Vocal Album. With the ceremony set to be held this Sunday, Samara takes a victory lap with the help of the Spotify Singles campaign. For her contribution, she offers a new version of “Guess Who I Saw Today” and an inventive cover of Adele’s award-winning song “Someone Like You.”
“Guess Who I Saw Today” has been a jazz standard since the 1950s, with perhaps the best-known version being Nancy Wilson’s take from her 1960 album Something Wonderful. Samara recorded her own rendition for her GRAMMY-nominated album Linger Awhile, and she brings new life to it again here. The piano serves as the main instrument to accompany her velvet-smooth vocals and the song’s melodramatic lyrics. She adds an unexpected twist to the proceedings at the end with an upbeat tempo change that allows her to riff, run and scat as the song comes to a close.
Her version of “Someone Like You” is transformative. With her vocal evoking the likes of Anita Baker and Sarah Vaughn, she delves into the heartbreak of the lyrics while an organ turns it all into an almost religious experience. The song also gives her many chances to flex the full-bodied power of her chops, especially at the end of the song. There she gives us controlled wails and runs, with each note and phrase as clear as a bell and full of the pain the lyrics evoke.
It’s safe to say that Samara Joy is one of the names we’ll be rooting for this Sunday when the GRAMMY Awards air live on CBS. Take a listen to her contributions to the Spotify Singles series and we’re sure you share our sentiments, too.