April Sampé has been blessed with a gift that is nothing short of amazing. Don’t believe me? Just hand her a mic. The singer was once told by doctors that she would never sing again. She has since gone on to perform for Grammy Award winning artists including, Chrisette Michele, Cee lo Green, and Wyclef Jean.
While in the middle of producing her new album, and preparing for upcoming shows, April slowed down to chat with me about life, love, music, and redefining U.G.L.Y.
Susan: When did you decide you wanted to pursue a music career?
April: You know, it’s so crazy…it was a decision I didn’t have to make. Music is who I am, and I’ve always been an entertainer. Seriously! When I was little, I would go to my friend’s house and put on shows for her and her family all the time. And I’d always dress up and perform like I was on a big stage. By the time I turned 15, I was singing professionally. Since then, I have been on just about every stage in D.C. –with the exception of the Verizon and Kennedy Centers.
Susan: You mentioned that music is who you are. So how did you deal with the possibility that you might never be able to sing again?
April: That wasn’t easy for me at all. When the doctors told me I had a tumor in my throat, I was prepared to leave it right there. I didn’t want them to operate, because I didn’t want to lose my voice. To them, me not being able to sing again was no big deal. But for me, it was a very big deal. After having two episodes where I actually stopped breathing in my sleep…I had no choice, but to let go and let God handle it. At the time, I was singing background vocals, doing voice overs, and radio jobs. I began telling everyone that I wouldn’t singing anymore. But two months after my surgery, my voice came back!
Susan: You’ve had the opportunity to sing for some pretty heavy hitters in the entertainment industry, what would you say is your most memorable experience so far?
April: Singing for CeeLo Green is definitely on the list. Also, Wyclef calling me out, and asking me to sing for him was a big deal to me. Chrisette Michele is another one I’ll never forget. I sang backup for J. Soul during one of her tours. It was my turn to solo. So I’m onstage singing, and she’s in another room resting. When she hears me singing, she races upstairs to catch the rest of my solo. After the show, she asked me to be her vocal coach. Yeah, that was pretty dope too.
Susan: I love that you’ve been able to lend your voice to such talented people. Let’s talk about you though. You have a new album coming out don’t you?
April: Yes! It’s called U.G.L.Y.
Susan: That’s an interesting title. What inspired it?
April: My friend and I were at this party once, and a man walks up to me and asks, “How does it feel to be the ugly one?”. Those words cut deep. It seemed like I was always the “ugly” friend. And I believed it for a long time. I accepted treatment from people that I should’ve never allowed. It wasn’t until I had hit rock bottom that I could say “I don’t care what anyone else thinks. God created me, and I’m beautiful inside and out.” And then I redefined ugly. Now it means, “Understand God Loves You.” Once God loves—you have to love yourself. And that's how I got my album title.
Susan: Wow, I LOVE that! What are you hoping your listeners will get from this album?
April: I want U.G.L.Y. to inspire a change in the way we as women view ourselves. I’m also hoping it will spark more conversation around the unrealistic expectations that are placed on us by mainstream society—and maybe even in the music industry. I want U.G.L.Y. to be transformational.
Susan: There are a lot of women out there dealing with self-esteem issues. What was one of the things that helped you, when you hit rock bottom?
April: One thing that really helped is my happiness jar. Every day—even now, I write things that I am thankful for and stick it in that jar. And when I want to feel sorry for myself, I read those pieces of paper and they remind me of how blessed I truly am. Another thing that helped me was writing positive notes to myself, and sticking them on my mirror. That way, whenever I looked in the mirror I had positive images of me.
Susan: You sing about self-worth, but you also sing about love. What are some things you’ve learned about love from your past relationships?
April: In my life, I have only been in four relationships. But the one I’m in now has taught me the most about what a relationship is. That being said, here is my advice: (1) If you ever find yourself feeling insecure, acting crazy, following him home, etc. he’s not the one for you. (2) When a man shows you who he really is, believe him. I dealt with a lot of unnecessary issues in the past, because I was with a man who I believed loved me dearly, but couldn’t handle being a relationship. Thank God, I don’t have to worry about that with the one I’m in now!
Susan: How can we support your next project?
“You see, I’m what you call big bone-ded, caramel skin tone-ded…big pretty eyes can see when they walk past me…what’s my name you ask?”