Sam Tolson is an oddity.
A native of Toledo, Ohio, she didn’t grow up singing. Never sang in church. Never really sang anywhere in fact. Until, that is, the beginning of 2012 when she suddenly decided to make a YouTube video of herself singing “Fallin’ for You” by Colbie Caillat.
“Honestly, I really never sang at all before that,” said Tolson. “I never participated in choir or anything. Nobody could ever get me to sing. I was super shy. And then it just kind of happened. My whole family was shocked because I’m such a quiet person.”
Not so quiet anymore. Since that initial video, Tolson has been taking music quite seriously, putting her songs up on iTunes and even producing music videos of them.
“I do a lot of writing,” Tolson said. “I write all the time … songs, stories, anything like that. I feel like that’s what really got me into music. I had always been associated with people who did music. A lot of my friends were in bands and things like that. But honestly it was just a very random thing that happened when I started singing.”
Tolson cites The Weeknd and Ellie Goulding as her musical influences. “They are my favorites by far,” she said. “I like The Weeknd for the R&B side of his stuff and Ellie for her lyrics.”
Now booked on a summer tour of Pride festivals across the country, Tolson’s path to reach this point hasn’t always been easy. In January, a fire ravaged her home music studio. “Next to my house my dad has a garage,” Tolson explained. “Back when I started music in 2012 we kind of revamped the inside and put all my music stuff out there. I was out there the night the fire happened at about 9 o’clock and then I ended up leaving to meet up with my girlfriend at the bar. Then my mom called me at about 2 a.m. crying. I could barely understand her. By the time I got home, everything was in flames. There was nothing left of it.”
Undeterred, Tolson kept pressing on. Her latest single, “No Rush,” was released just this week. “‘No Rush’, which I co-wrote with Chris Curran, is the first song I actually wrote every part of and had a say in every little detail,” said Tolson. “I’m super happy about it. It’s definitely different for me.”
Different, Tolson said, because it’s full of sexual undertones — something that was challenging for her when it came time to shoot the video. “The guy that I wrote it with was like, ‘If you’re willing to make it sexual, go with it,'” Tolson recalled. “In a way it’s kind of shitty because that’s just how the music industry wants things to be. But at the same time, I have to do what I like. So instead of making it this huge unrealistic thing I created a storyline of spending a day with someone. I tried to make it a little more artistic. But the boundaries are pushed because there’s a shower scene and it implies certain things.
“As a person, I’m not really like that,” Tolson continued. “I’m very closed off, very quiet, very to myself. I’m very introverted. But I wanted to show I was growing as an artist and even as a person. My girlfriend probably wants to kill me. No, she’s actually been great about it. My mom kind of hassled me a little bit. But that’s her job.”
Ready to debut her new song, Tolson said she is excited about playing Motor City Pride. “I love the people who come to Prides. The vibe there is just completely different from any other kind of show I’ve ever done. Everyone is just sweet and happy. That’s my favorite part about Prides. I go and hang out for the day. I hang out with people who come up to me and have a drink with them. I just feel like with every other show you can’t really do that. They don’t have that vibe.”