Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sami Akbari: Great Things Come in Small Packages

The overwhelming presence and massive power behind Sami Akbari’s voice makes it hard to believe the vocally gifted entertainer stands at a mere five feet tall. With lyrics that reach untapped sectors of your soul, a quality of sound that both soothes and inspires, and a natural comedic flare, it’s impossible not to adore this fiery up-and-coming singer-songwriter.

Exploring the arts from a young age, Sami Akbari dabbled with piano, violin, and guitar beginning at five years old, and has been singing for as long as her memory serves. With Bob Denver, Ritchie Havens, Bob Marley, and Neil Diamond playing on the stereo in Akbari’s childhood home, a father who wrote poetry, a mother who played guitar, and a realization at age six that she could belt out Annie’s “Tomorrow,” Sami’s destiny laid on solid ground early on, simply waiting for the right moment to bring it to life.

Despite a passion for music and singing, along with an “unhealthy” obsession with The Beatles laced throughout her adolescence, it was not until freshman year of college that Akbari made the commitment to nurture her brimming talent. While on the committee “Mainstage” at Roanoke College, Sami held the responsibility of handling hospitality and taking care of the musical acts performing at the school- and the first act happened to be John Mayer. “It was the first time I was behind the scenes at a concert and able to see how the whole day was put together,” Akbari reveals. “Seeing the show and how people were reacting to him made me see it through new eyes.” Feeling relatively depressed after the event concluded, Sami longed to relive the experience and excitement, and immediately started back into guitar lessons and songwriting.

After college Sami picked up and moved to New York City, ready to pursue the dream and uncovering obstacles each step of the way. Finding tremendous support within the community, Akbari notes the lack of jealousy and the abundance of happiness artists exhibit for one another. “You come to New York with this image that there are so many people and musicians and it’s going to be so hard, and it is. But it’s actually a small community and it’s amazing how many people you end up knowing,” she observes with a smile. “It’s weird, it makes the rest of the music world smaller too because all of a sudden you’re connected to these people in different ways that would not have existed outside of New York.”

Akbari credits the Brooklyn-based group Local Correspondents, an organization that promotes independent artists, with helping to overcome a lack of confidence and getting her feet wet in the scene. Upon arriving in the city a little over a year ago, Sami spent most Tuesday evenings at Bar 4 in Williamsburg, where she met fellow artists Jessi Robertson and Brian Speaker, two people instrumental in helping her land her first gig at Piano’s top floor. The connection with Local Correspondents has kept the ball rolling as the venue list continually grows, now including Akbari’s favorite place to play, The Living Room, a place she adores for it’s loyal and attentive audiences and diversity of acts.

Commanding attention on any stage is effortless for Sami Akbari, who professes her favorite part of performing is simply audience interaction. “I love entertaining people!” she sparkles with enthusiasm. A harmonious voice dripping with longing, love, and heartache is often balanced with quirky banter, an engaging laugh, and honest commentary, keeping her listener’s emotions well rounded.

Inspired most often by music, different instruments, such as the micro-chord, will stimulate Akbari’s creative senses. The singer-songwriter often struggles with the “songwriting” end of the spectrum, finding it easier to compose music first, and then see where it flows lyrically. “It’s really hard for me,” Sami reveals, echoing a feeling familiar to many artists in this scene. “I know a lot of people who can sit down and write four amazing songs and I hate them. Sometimes it takes me a year to write a really good song.”

Regardless of the development process, Akbari continues to produce music that’s beautifully honest, absolutely relatable, and perfectly enchanting, as heard on her 2007 debut “Somebody Else’s Stranger,” a four-track EP that resonates with young love, self-discovery, and finding strength through pain. Propelling forward with recording new tracks and dominating live performances, Sami is making her way through the scene, bright-eyed and quick-tongued, proving once and for all amazing things come in small packages.

For more information on Sami Akbari visit www.myspace.com/samiakbari or find Sami on Facebook www.facebook.com.


  1. I remember the first time I heard Sami sing at Roanoke College. Her voice just blows you away and makes your jaw drop. Even then, everyone in the room knew this girl was going places.

  2. That girl is seriously one of the rudest, most ungracious performers I have ever had the misfortune of seeing. Her talent is marginal, especially in New York, given the overwhelming amount of female performers that sing in a whispering, confessional tone, and her piano skills are nonexistent. But still, the only reason I remember her is because I had the misfortune of seeing two of her shows where she was rude to the audience and the venue staff. Wrong place, wrong time. There's a difference between affecting a "bitchy" attitude as part of an on-stage persona, and just being a straight-up bitch, and she is unfortunately the latter. And please, no comments about how I wouldn't be saying this if a guy acted like that, because if a guy acted like act, he would have gotten knocked out a long time ago and hopefully learned his lesson.