Hurtful remark leads to online success for local musician

Sam Davs plays Ottawa Bagelshop Musicfest Saturday July 9

By Wes Smiderle

Local country music performer and songwriter Sam Davs is garnering views and streams on platforms includign Spotify and TikTok. Her song, "Wish You Were Hotter," reached number 44 on the iTunes country music charts. Photo: Peter Peres Photography

When a potential romantic interest quashed her interest with an astoundingly insensitive remark, local songwriter Sam Davs turned the rejection into material for a country music song that will doubtless strike a chord with a lot of listeners.

“I basically wrote that song about a guy who told me I wasn’t hot enough to date,” recalls Sam during an online interview.

Stung by the apparently offhanded comment, the singer-songwriter put the pain to work. The resulting song, “Wish You Were Hotter,” turns the tables by telling her would-be partner how he falls short emotionally. “I’m telling him, ‘I wish you were hot enough on the inside.’”

Working mostly online as she’s been doing since the pandemic, Sam recorded most of the music virtually and then flew to a contact in Calgary, Alberta to record her vocals. Finally, she sent the track to a country music expert and mastering engineer in Nashville, Tennessee to prepare and improve the audio mix to professional distribution and streaming standards.

The result is, as she describes it, a “really cool, bad-ass, empowering song” that was released in February this year and racked up almost 50,000 streams on Spotify while peaking at number 44 on the iTunes country charts.

Not all reaction was positive. Sam notes that there has been “some backlash on TikTok” from people not supportive of body positivity.

“I knew it would happen,” she says simply. “People are so quick to judge.”

‘The girl who sings’

Sam has been writing songs since her early teens, first as a past-time after school. She wasn’t thinking of it as a career but soon she came to be recognized around her school as “the girl who sings”. “People who didn’t know my name knew me as the girl who wrote country songs. I loved that.”

After graduation, she pursued a university degree in psychology and linguistics. But it soon became apparent that career-wise, she had other interests. Even at university, she continued writing songs and performing at open mikes. “Songwriting was always my number one.”

Yet she had never consider music as a viable career option. This was partly due to other people’s reactions when she mentioned her interest in pursuing music. “People would say, ‘What’s your back-up plan?”

She was working at a hardware store when she decided to make music her entire plan. Always fascinated by sound boards at live shows and the technical side of making music, she applied for Algonquin College’s music industry program. From thousands of applications, she says only 75 were accepted. Sam was one of only three women in the program.

From college, she pursued internships at a management agency and a production studio.

Despite her love of performing and especially songwriting, Sam seems to have no illusions about the music industry and how, unfortunately, it can grind down performers and songwriters. “You really have to know your limits.”

Health concerns forced her to step away from music for several years and focus on getting better. By the time she was ready to plunge in again, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. “I wanted to get back into it and the world shut down.”

Fortunately, a lot of music events and conferences shifted online. Sam attended a Canadian indie music conference where she made a lot of good contacts and re-energized her interest in music.

From there, she found “Cuttable”. When a performer wants to record a songwriter’s work, he or she will ask if they can “cut” their song. Cuttable is an online platform for songwriters to meet on a regular basis and, ideally, create songs that end up being “cut” by other artists.

Sam says her career as a songwriter truly began to blossom there, allowing her to work and collaborate with artists across Canada and the U.S., including in Nashville, the heart of the American country music industry. Last year, she performed at the Canadian Country Music Awards in Calgary, Alberta.

It was through Cuttable that she met fellow country music performer Nicole Rayy, who eventually cut Sam’s song “Graveyard”. She also invited Sam to perform at her Harmonia country music festival in Mount Albert, Ontario. Sam will be making a return visit there later this year.

Sam will also be performing in Ottawa Bagelshop Musicfest Saturday July 9.

In June 2023, Sam Davs performed at the Country Music Association of Ontario’s 11th anniversary celebration and festival in Hamilton. Pictured left to right are Nicole Rayy, Damon Ironstone, Sam and Joey DePaiva. Photo: Cashbox Canada