LIVINGSTON & WEST ORANGE, NJ - Dreams do come true—at least for some people like Top 40 country artist, Samantha Landrum, who was discovered singing at a bonfire in her hometown of Laurel, Miss. when she was just 16 years old.
Now at 19, she has already been featured on a Paul McCartney tribute album with his song, "Pipes of Peace,” and she sang at the McCartney Nashville 'Let Us In' Benefit Concert for The Women and Cancer Fund, a not-for-profit charity led by Dr. Alicia Alvarez and established in the memory of Linda McCartney, which kicked off CMA Week 2011 at Music City's historic Ryman Auditorium. And, at 17, Landrum, who has been singing since she was four, was signed to a seven-record and management deal with Reviver Music, LLC, which was founded by music promotion veteran, David Ross, of Livingston. Reviver Records, Reviver Management and Reviver Records Productions are all based in New Jersey.
Coincidentally, in 2013, Landrum performed at the Inaugural Livingston, Mississippi 200th Bicentennial celebration concert series, which echoed Livingston, NJ’s own 200th birthday. She was the opening act for such music stars as Kellie Pickler, Travis Tritt, Lee Brice, and Steel Magnolia. Plans for a 2014 five-concert series are underway—all of which Landrum will perform, following the debut of her upcoming debut album, “Hometown.”
This year, Samantha’s debut single, “Hometown” rose to become a Top 40 hit. And the video to “Hometown,” reached the Top Spot on the Country Music TV (CMT) Pure 12-Pack, which means that it was the most-requested video on CMT (Fan Voted). “What If” will appear on her debut, “Hometown” album that is slated for release by Reviver Records, with CD and digital sales alike, on March 18, 2014—just in time for Samantha’s 20th birthday on March 21. Samantha's current single, "What If ", as well as her upcoming full length debut CD was produced by Dennis D'Amico.
“Hometown” is a mix of ballads and up-tempo songs. It is very close to Landrum’s heart as she is from a small town, Laurel, MS, the birth place of Landrum’s Homestead and Village, a re-creation of a late-1800s settlement reminiscent of southern days gone by, which was built by her grandfather and father.
Landrum, who co-wrote three of the songs on the album—“I’ll still Need Your Shoulder,” That Man’s Hot,” and “A Waste of a Good Heartache,” said, “I really relate to the songs on this album. I am a hometown girl, and these songs spoke to me when I first heard them.”
On Tues., Dec. 3, Samantha was in Livingston filming her video for her newest single, “What If.” The song was released to radio five weeks ago, and is currently playing on over 125 terrestrial radio stations across the country and SiriusXM, channel 59 “The Highway.” The video filmed this week will be released in Jan. 2014. In addition, her current Christmas single “Light A Candle” is getting airplay on SiriusXM, channel 58, “Country Christmas.” Both of these singles can be purchased on iTunes and Amazon.com.
Cinematography for the “What If,” video was filmed by NJ-based Clarke Mayer, of KillerGooseFilms.com and directing the video was Ross’ wife Jen “YogaJen” Gold Shulman, who grew up in West Orange. YogaJen and her husband David both reside in Livingston and Yoga Jen’s first career was making television commercials and music videos after studying at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Shulman’s film treatment and Dec. 3 shoot included friends and many of Shulman’s yoga students, such as: the Synchroettes, who she trains with yoga, and LHS juniors: Natalie Simon, Lindsay Wishnew, Maggie Werner, Danielle Kornbluh, Rebecca Sorkin and Ali Ruchman.
The video will include segments of vignettes of “What If” ideas, such as What if: We Always Loved Each Other this Much; We Were Basketball Stars; We Were Rock Stars, Yoga Helped Me to Live Forever; I Got Into the College of My Choice; and Synchronized Skating was an Olympic Sport.
The “What If I Got into the College of My Choice” segment was filmed on the bleachers of the LHS football field.
Wishnew, who donned an Indiana shirt and ball cap for the segment, said she was “excited to appear in the video because she had known Landrum for a while” and “thinks she is a sweet and genuine person.”
Werner, who hopes to attend Quinnipiac said, “I am really excited to do this for both Jen and Samantha. I get really excited when I hear Samantha on the radio and truly hope things go well for her.”
Sorkin, who is undecided about college right now, said “I love that I will be in a video for a really great song.”
And, Ruchman, who plans to either attend Muhlenberg or Hartford, said, “I am excited to be working on a video for a rising star.”
Shulman said, “Every person in the video has a place in my heart. After getting the rare chance to direct a music video, I wanted to honor people I love with cameos in the video. Most people in the video are my yoga students and they mean everything to me. This experience made me realize how many amazing people trust me each week to take care of them physically, and I wanted to give back to them by putting them in a video, which would freeze a precious moment of their lives forever in time.”
Later that night, Landrum and her entourage, which included band members Daniel Pentecost, who plays the fiddle and mandolin; Landrum’s background singer, Megan Moreaux; guitar player Lukas Bracewell; and her friend Samantha Kahn, a Livingston resident, went to Codey Arena, in West Orange to film the “What if Synchronized Skating Was an Olympic Sport” segment with the Synchroettes. The team, which has the rare honor of being called Team USA, just received the gold medal in their short program and a gold medal in free skate this weekend at the Terry Conners Open, in Stamford Ct. The team, comprised of athletes from Essex County including Livingston Town Councilman, Michael Silverman’s daughter, Erica, skated around Samantha Landrum in unison. Members of the NJ Devils Youth Hockey Club also made a cameo in the segment.
“I really enjoy the ease of working with Samantha,” said Moreaux. “She is really laid back, easy to be with and easy to get along with.”
“The vibe is awesome,” said Pentecost. “We are all good friends and have a great time traveling together.”
Incidentally, Ross has his own “What If” story—as a youth who could throw an 89 mile-per-hour fastball, he was asked to tryout as a pitcher for the Expos, Mets and Yankees. He tried out for the Expos in a two-day tryout where he played a summer game, but ultimately chose to follow in his father, Moe Shulman’s musical footsteps. Ross’ dad, who worked at London Records, was one of the first people to meet the Rolling Stones in the US. According to Ross, his dad was part of the London Records team that helped secure them on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 and traveled with the band throughout the states, helping to promote some of the Stone’s greatest hits, including “Satisfaction,” and Let’s Spend the Night Together.”
“I knew at the age of five, that I wanted to be in the music business, said Ross. “But there is always that ‘What If I had Become a Professional Baseball Player’ playing in the back of my mind.”
One thing is for sure—Samantha Landrum is very grateful that Ross chose the musical path.
“I am very excited and grateful for all that has happened to me with my music,” said Landrum.
Click here for Landrum’s “What If” lyric video that was created as a “place holder,” until the official video is launched.
Click here to listen to Landrum’s singles.