Samuel "Sam" Tsui (born May 2, 1989) is an American musician and internet celebrity who rose to fame on YouTube. He is best known for covering songs by popular artists like Adele, Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars, as well as for his original songs, medleys, and mashups, along with his frequent collaborations with Kurt Hugo Schneider.
Life and career:
1989-2008: Early life:
Sam Tsui was born on May 2, 1989. His Chinese father is from Hong Kong, and his Caucasian mother is from Iowa. Tsui has a brother Kent Kevin. Tsui grew up in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, a street away from Kurt Schneider, his producer and accompanist, with whom he attended Wissahickon High School. He was active in high school musicals, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Urinetown, Titanic, and Miss Saigon. Tsui attended Yale University, where he was a member of Davenport College and The Duke's Men of Yale, an all-male a cappella group. He also majored in classical Greek in University.
2009-2010: Career Beginnings and "The Covers":
Sam Tsui made his television debut on ABC World News on October 28, 2009, singing The Jackson 5's "I'll Be There". Tsui also went on to perform on the The Bonnie Hunt Show in November of the same year, where he was interviewed and performed Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)". He also appeared on It's On with Alexa Chung, singing Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" for the cast of American television series Glee.
Tsui also worked on his own project in 2009, where he and Kurt Schneider produced a series of episodes of College Musical, a comedy web series parodying the High School Musical film series, with original songs composed by Schneider. Four episodes were released, with Tsui playing the lead role of Cooper. Following the popularity of the series, it was announced that a film, currently in production, would be made based on the series. The episodes garnered millions of views on YouTube.
In 2010, Sam Tsui released his first cover album, "The Covers". The album, released on February 9, 2010, features covers of hits from Michael Jackson, Journey, Beyoncé, Jason Mraz, and Lady Gaga among other artists. On February 22, 2010, Tsui appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show with his producer, Kurt Schneider. The two were interviewed, and Tsui performed his medley of Michael Jackson songs. On December 2, 2010, Tsui gave an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and performed a mashup of Katy Perry's "Firework" and Bruno Mars' "Grenade" with Schneider. In December 2010, Tsui collaborated with fellow YouTube singer Christina Grimmie, singing Just A Dream, which is the most viewed video on the YouTube channel "KurtHugoSchneider", with more than eighty million views.
2011-2012: YouTube and rise in popularity:
In 2011, Sam Tsui debuted his own YouTube channel, apart from his collaboration with Kurt Schneider. On February 3, 2011, Tsui was featured on Britney Spears' official website, along with his cover of Hold It Against Me. In March 2011, Tsui, and like from his song "Start Again", were also mentioned in the book "Seeker" by Andy Frankham-Allen published in print format by Hirst Publishing, and in all digital formats by Untreed Reads Publishing. His song "Worth It" was mentioned in the novel "Summers & Winters" by Heather Dowell, released in ebook format in February 2012. In November 2011, he made a mashup with "It Will Rain" by Bruno Mars, and "Set Fire to the Rain" by Adele, which has more than 2,100,000 views.
In 2011, Tsui was a Behind-The-Scenes host for the third season of NBC's a capella competition show, The Sing-Off. He recorded a "Judges Medley" that includes Sara Bareilles' "Love Song", Ben Folds' "Gone" and Shawn Stockman's (Boyz II Men) "On Bended Knee". The video is free to view on both NBC's website and Tsui's independent YouTube channel, TheSamTsui.
Tsui graduated from Yale magna cum laude with a major in classical Greek in 2011. Tsui is proficient in the C++ programming language. Sam Tsui was mentioned three times by Tom Hanks when he addressed the class of Yale 2011. Tsui was also featured in the 2010 Yale Admissions video. The video, entitled "That's Why I Chose Yale", reveals information about the college with students and admission officers breaking out into song across the campus.
Sam Tsui has collaborated with fellow musician Kurt Hugo Schneider since high school, when the pair recorded music with an electronic keyboard and GarageBand. Both attended Yale University, where a musical partnership developed. As of February 2012, the YouTube channel "KurtHugoSchneider" has garnered over 525 million total views and over two million subscribers. His videos have been described by Time as a combination of Glee and Attack of the Clones.
2013- Present: "Make It Up" and future projects:
Tsui released his first full length original album in May 2013 titled "Make it Up." In summer 2013, Tsui and Schneider toured across Canada and the US with Alex Goot, Against the Current, Landon Austin, Luke Conard, and King the Kid. In September 2013, Tsui and Schneider performed in Singapore and Hong Kong. Tsui has so far released music videos for "Make It Up", "Grey Area", "Shadow", "Bring Me the Night", "Worth It" and "Wherever you are".
Sam Tsui continues to make covers of popular music on his YouTube channel, also doing collaborations with other YouTube singers. On September 9, 2013, Sam wrote and recorded a duet with Elle Winter entitled "Unsinkable (Music is Medicine)". The proceeds of the single will be going towards pediatric cancer research as a part of the Music is Medicine's Donate a Song project. On October 3, 2013, Sam uploaded a photo via instagram, posing alongside Jason Mraz and Hunter Hayes. He announced that he shot a video with the two artists and would be releasing it soon. It was later revealed that he has collaborated with Tessa Violet, Echosmith, TJ Smith, Tyler Ward, Brandyn Burnette, Brian Landau, Kina Grannis and Peter Hollens on a YouTube mash-up of their song, "Everybody's Got Somebody but Me".
Sam Tsui's vocals were featured in a promotional video for Coca-Cola premiering on January 14, 2014. In 2013, Kurt Hugo Schneider and Coca-Cola teamed up to create music videos featuring creative covers of two 2013 hits namely Calvin Harris' "Feel So Close" and Of Monsters and Men's "Little Talks" for a campaign called "The Sounds of AHH". The commercial edits of both premiered on the inaugural episode of season 13 of American Idol on January 14, 2014 on FOX with "Feels So Close" featuring the vocals of Sam Tsui whereas Schneider makes music playing only Coca-Cola bottles, glasses and cans. Sam Tsui shares in co-playing on the bottles alongside Schneider. In summer 2014, Tsui and Schneider returned to Asia, performing in Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taipei. They were also scheduled to perform in Beijing and Shanghai, but those shows did not push through.