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Conversations with the Inspiring Sam Creighton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sam Creighton.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Sam. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
As a child, I sat on my grandfather’s lap in front of the piano and tried to mimic the sounds coming from his mouth. That’s where and when I learned how to sing. We sang duets together, the first one still cemented in my brain ‘What’ll I Do? From that moment forward, music has been the most profound part of my life. In elementary and middle school, I took part in community theater productions and voice lessons until high school. There, I faced the difficult decision of choosing between sports (another love) and continuing music. After long discussions with my guidance counselor, I figured out a way to balance both, running into the auditorium panting from Lacrosse practice just in time to jump on stage and rehearse my lines for the annual Musical Theater production. This is when I first learned the importance of self-discipline. Stressed out but fulfilled, this became my new normal – refusing to choose the easy way out. Through high school, I performed all around the Northeast Region in drama productions, district competitions and state auditioned choirs. It got me through untimely deaths of friends and family members, my first heartbreak, my parents’ ugly divorce, abusive home life, my father’s disposal of me, and relocation out of my childhood home due to foreclosure. Where, who, and what would I be without music? It saved my life up until this point.

However, my musical dreams came to a halt when I had to face the harsh reality of choosing a career path in higher education. With help, I concluded that the best choice for me was to study Behavioral Neuroscience at Northeastern University, and I became numb to the fact that my passion was a thing of my past. I stepped – no, I was shoved – into the adult world, independently moving into a dorm in Boston and drowning in functional human neuroanatomy and organic chemistry homework. Two weeks into the monotony, a small miracle showed itself to me in the form of a poster, hanging askew on a corner bulletin board. “ATTN ALL SINGERS: Do you want to join an a cappella group? SIGN UP HERE to audition for Northeastern’s Premiere A Cappella Group THE NOREASTERS.” I looked around, skeptical, as if someone had placed this here knowing that I had JUST been thinking about finding a musical outlet here, something to distract me from the misery of my course load. The group changed my life, and again, music saved my life.

In college, it got me through assault, the death of a dear friend, an unwanted pregnancy that resulted in a painful and complicated abortion, a bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, yet another heartbreak, a strong bout of depression paired with a cocktail of anti-depressants and cognitive behavioral therapy. But music made me strong, and five years later, as I sang the National Anthem to 20,000 people in TD Bank North Garden at Commencement, I reflected on my time in the group. We had been named Champions of The International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, sung for the President and First Lady – Barack and Michelle Obama – at the 2014 White House Christmas Gala, performed Bohemian Rhapsody on stage with Jewel, accompanied by the Boston Pops Orchestra, starred on a Netflix and Hulu Show executive produced by John Legend, traveled internationally to promote the show on The Today Show in Sydney Australia… all of these experiences culminated in this moment – and now, I had no idea what to do next. Heavy darkness settled upon me post-graduation. I landed an amazing and stable job at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, in the Neuro department. You can guess what happened next. Yet again, I felt something was missing. I packed up three suitcases and booked a one-way ticket to the city of angels, Los Angeles, California. I began writing and releasing songs on my own accord, funded and released independently. I found collaborators to help me tell my story.

Since then, I have performed in multiple venues across the city, found financial and mental stability, created my own music video that premiered it on Refinery29, and look forward to whatever comes next. Music has saved my life before, and I know it will be there for me throughout my journey. How could I not count on it? How could I not dedicate my life to something that has been so constant and loyal since birth? A starving artist I am, but not without gratitude, grace, poise, and patience.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As mentioned in the previous response, it has been anything but smooth. My life, just as everyone’s, has been riddled with roadblocks and struggles, but I refuse to let them define me. I am dedicated to learning from each experience, and instead of seeing them as mistakes or failures, I let them manifest as creativity and strength. Each experience is one to learn from.

When my parents divorced when I was 16 years old, I felt the weight of the world crash down upon me. When my father lost his job and we lost our house when I was 18 years old, I thought my life was over. When my mom, my siblings and I secretly moved to a two-bedroom condo outside of our school district during my senior year, I felt the uncertainty of the future. When I had my very first panic attack at 18, I literally couldn’t breathe. However, I used these feelings as motivation to make my life the best it can be. I turned to gratitude, thankful for what remained of my loving family. I turned to strength which I siphoned from my incredible mother, who was forced into a full-time entry-level position after 18 years of being a full-time mother – just to keep us housed and fed.

When I was at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013, a thrilling day of accomplishment and pride turned into a real-life horror movie as bombs went off, taking lives and damaging many more. Friends ended up in the hospital, and a family friend had to bury their 8-year-old son. Final exams were canceled as a city-wide manhunt commenced to find the suspect of this horrific crime. I won’t lie, I had a bout of PTSD every time I heard a loud sound after the explosions. However, I didn’t let it rule over me. Instead, I became dedicated to running the marathon myself, the next year. As a way to pay homage to the victims, but also as a way to complete my healing. I entered an essay competition to win entry into the marathon and was granted a bib for the 2014 Boston Marathon. My story was published on ESPN’s website and trained with intense discipline. Crossing the finish line in 2014 was the most cathartic moment of my life. I look back on the experience as a traumatic event turned into a feat conquered.

When my friend in college took his own life, it was devastating, but perhaps the most life-changing moment in my life. The words in his final letter were the same words that gave me the courage to chase after my dreams in Los Angeles. After what I believed to be an appropriate amount of mourning, I decided to make something of his life. After all, I had been depressed before too, I had felt hopeless, and I had felt isolated with no purpose. I wanted to make sure no one else would ever have to feel alone. All of our friends started to get involved in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, raising upwards of $50,000 for the cause after his death. We continue to walk and run in events that benefit the same or similar foundations. I was lucky to have found a support system in Los Angeles that ran in the Didi Hirsch Alive and Running event with me in his honor in 2015, and even luckier to have friends travel across the country to continue supporting and volunteering at AFSP events. This is an experience I look at to always stay motivated. As heartbroken as you can be, you can always make something good of it.

After these life-altering experiences, to speak of failures in my music career seems baseless. Baseless because they will never measure up, I will not let them – but mostly baseless because they do not exist. A failure is only one if you let it be. Take each failure and turn it into passion, creativity, and trial. The universe is on each one of our sides, and each life lesson is just that – a lesson, to teach you, to mold you, and to test you. My advice is to see it through. Failure is not an option, and there is no giving up. You just have to work hard and be passionate. Over and over and over and over again.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am currently a singer/songwriter in Los Angeles. My artist project has already had many forms, even though it is new, but is currently in a form that I feel extremely passionate about – one of empowerment. My most recent single is called “After Midnight” – touted by Refinery29 as a “blatant rejection of the “U Up?” Text.” It is an empowering story about a woman (or a man) who has been treated poorly over and over again by a love interest, namely – being used solely as a booty call. In the music video, the woman finds herself dancing alone in the bedroom, singing lyrics about how she doesn’t need validity in the form of acceptance of a love interest, and that she’s made it through a battle with self-loathing and turned it into self-love.

My upcoming single, “Smile”, is a snarky response to the ever-obnoxious catcalling that women and men go through on a daily basis. I can’t give too much away because I want you all to be excited about listening!

I am most proud to be a feminist voice in the music industry, especially in this political climate and state of affairs. I want to inspire women to be able to stand up for themselves in situations that are uncomfortable, and I want to normalize self-love.

It would be great to hear about any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve used and would recommend to others.
I love self-help books. I have had such an intense battle with finding happiness in myself, feeling that I am worthy, and self-love. These books have helped me more than I can explain.

You Are A Badass – Jen Sincero
Shit Your Ego Says – James McCrae
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
The Success Principles – Jack Canfield
The Secret – Rhonda Byrne

Yoga, Meditation and Buddhist philosophies have also helped me center myself.

Who else deserves credit – have you had mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, advocates, clients or teammates that have played a big role in your success or the success of the business?  If so –who are they and what role did they plan / how did they help.
In terms of finding mentors and collaborators, being myself has worked the best. Los Angeles is full of clout clingers and social climbers, but I find those people to come off as obvious and disingenuous. People are more inclined to help others when they have made a natural and true connection. Because of this, it has taken a lot longer for me to garner a solid and strong foundation of people that are ride or die with me. However, this is so much more worth it to me than having 500 wishy-washy people. I have always thrived off of true and deep connection, so building that first is what is most important to me.

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Image Credit:
Michael Arellano, Dante Velasquez

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