Going for the Black and Gold

An unexpected Grammy nomination could catapult Sam Sparro into household-name territory.

BY Jason Lamphier

January 05 2009 12:00 AM ET

SAM SPARRO X390 01 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

Though he is surprised by the explosive success of “Black and Gold” across the Atlantic, Sparro understands the reason for its popularity: It’s just plain good. “A lot of people know the song through word of mouth or from the Internet,” he explains. “Based on its merit it’s gone a long way.” So why did it remain a marginal, mostly gay anthem stateside? “I guess radio didn’t see it as something that belonged, so it was left to the underground,” Sparro says. “But I’m glad it didn’t break out in the U.S., because it’s given me a chance to breathe here. I think naturally more people will become aware of my music.”

The Aussie wunderkind may be the underdog in the Grammy race, but the weighty subject matter of “Black and Gold” sets him apart from the other nominees. The son of a gospel singer, Sparro (born Sam Falson) left Australia at age 10 when his family moved to Los Angeles, where he began honing his vocal skills in his church choir. But after returning to his birthplace in the late ’90s, then heading to London to explore the club scene, and eventually ending up back in Los Angeles in 2002, Sparro found himself questioning organized religion. Riding the contagious groove of “Black and Gold” are introspective lyrics addressing his recent existential crisis. “The song is about looking for God and meaning in this big expansive universe and about me trying to find my place in it,” he says. “I have no place for religion, but I do believe in God—and believe he or she is in control somehow. I just don’t believe the things that happened to me in the last 12 months happened on my own accord. There’s something bigger.”

If some greater power has a master plan for Sparro, it remains unclear. Though he’s very eager to begin work on his sophomore album -- the bulk of which he’ll produce himself -- his label has already discussed banking on Sparro’s Grammy exposure and re-releasing “Black and Gold” in the United States, a move that could eat up any free time he has for songwriting. Nevertheless, the self-assured, unfiltered free bird -- who has been honest about his sexuality from the start of his career -- intends to roll with the punches. “I operate from a really authentic place,” he says. “I have stuff to say -- and you can dance to it too. Anything is possible.”

Tags: Music

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