Sami's Every Passing Minute- life on tour

It’s a warm but windy summers day in Maitland, NSW. I watch the cars go by one after the other until one catches my eye. It’s a white van with the words “SAMI” sprawled across the front, side and back. The driver gets out and walks towards me. She greets me with a hug and says, “It’s so nice to finally meet you”.

The driver is 21-year old singer/songwriter Sami Cooke from Young, a country town in New South Wales. In those first few seconds, I can see just how friendly Sami is and how passionate she is about certain things in life.

As we walk towards ‘Outback Jacks’ restaurant we pass a motorbike shop. She tells me that she recently bought a helmet there and wants to buy a bike, already having her learner’s licence. The conversation is easy and relaxed, the kind of person that Sami comes across as.

We are offered table water as we are seated, and I begin to talk to Sami about her music career.  But we are interrupted by her phone alarm. She apologises profusely and explains that she sets an alarm to remind her to drink water to keep her voice hydrated. Her voice is slightly husky, a result of the 3 gigs she had just performed on the weekend. She begins to take me on her musical journey.

Sami began her music life with a saxophone in primary school. She tells me how she and her brother, who played the clarinet, used to busk together to earn some money and practice their instruments. “We loved it because we were making money and it was great. After we went busking we would get ice cream from Wendy’s and the rest of the money would go to mum and dad for tuition.” Once Sami got to high school, she gave up playing the saxophone. It just wasn’t cool anymore. But, after discovering her talent for singing in year 6 and winning her school’s talent quest, Sami decided to focus on singing.

[caption id="attachment_347" align="alignnone" width="640"]sami meg bailes.jpg Photo by Meg Bailes[/caption]

After trying out multiple singing teachers, Sami found one that was best suited to her. His name is Mark Brooker. Sami tells me that he was, and still is, an amazing singer who really brought out the best of her ability. “He was a trained opera singer and taught me heaps of great techniques and if I didn’t have him, I wouldn’t be able to do 3 gigs a week”. The classical lessons helped Sami so much that she decided to enter several different Eisteddfods, winning at each one, something which really boosted her confidence.

However, living in Young and aspiring to be a singer was not the easiest. As Sami puts it, unless you were interested in sport or farming, you were pretty much an outsider. The bullying that Sami received at school almost caused her to quit a few times, but her success at eisteddfods and her determination helped her to keep going.

Sami continued singing, performing and enjoying what she was doing but never really thought of it as a career until she was in year 11. It was around about this time that she started doing a few gigs, something that she now performs over 100 of. “I did a few gigs prior to finishing school but I was at school and a lot of places you had to be over 18 to play there so I started doing a few gigs every now and then when I could”.

Once Sami caught the gigging bug, it became a massive part of her life. In 2014, Sami travelled around in a camper trailer for the whole year, performing at various places. “The whole experience was incredible”.  

Sami’s second year of touring took her to both New Zealand and Canada. “It was a couple weeks over in New Zealand just doing gigs and I felt famous because the promotion people paid for me to go over there and everything was paid for. They just wanted me to sing 3 shows. It was the first taste of what it was like going international”. Sami tells me that the people in New Zealand were very welcoming and treated her with respect for choosing their country to perform in. She also noted that all her gigs were full of people wanting to hear what her beautiful voice could do.

[caption id="attachment_348" align="alignnone" width="552"]Sami sometimes alice photography.jpg Photo: Sometimes Alice Photography[/caption]

Though Sami’s mum suggested that they next go to America, Sami felt that she was her own person and therefore didn’t want to follow what everyone else did. My time with Sami demonstrated that she is proud to be her own artist and do her own thing, something I think is admirable.  Instead she decided she would go to Canada, as her father had history with the country. They purchased an RV and drove from Calgary to Vancouver and back again over a period of 6 weeks. Sami smiles as she tells me how welcoming the Canadians were. “The people over there are incredible. Every single one of my gigs, packed. They’re all there to watch me which is just incredible. The musicians as well. Out of 18 shows, I had probably 4 solo, everyone plays. They just randomly jump up and jam with me. I get guitarists, harmonica players, I had a Trombone player, another singer, a bassist, an electric guitarist”. It’s true the people of Canada love Sami just as much as we do. Which is probably why she returns there every year.

In between completing her schooling and various gigs, Sami managed to release her debut album 'Every Passing Minute', which features 14 tracks. Sami wrote 13 tracks for the album, most of which were written whilst she was still at school. Her writing ability is incredible, with each song telling its own story. It’s not hard to hear Sami’s heart and soul in each song. Her country voice powers through. When I ask Sami what releasing her own album was like she tells me bluntly that for her it was like giving birth. “It’s your own baby, all your own emotions. It’s a very private thing to sort of take me and give it to the world”.

 ‘Every Passing Minute’ proved to be a success for Sami, with the singer being recognised for various accolades. Her powerful anti-bullying song ‘Still Searching’ hit number 10 on the Australian charts, and the track that she penned titled ‘You’re Inspirational’, which was written for people with disabilities, also reached number 10. The success of her album has lead to over 50,000 YouTube views.

[caption id="attachment_349" align="alignnone" width="960"]Sami Raymond Mac Neill photography.jpg Cover photo: Raymond Mac Neill Photography[/caption]

Sami is in the process of finishing her new album, having only one song left to record and the final production to be completed. “I’m hoping to have a cd launch on April 7th in Newcastle”. Sami has invited fellow musician and friend Georgina Grimshaw along to perform at the launch. After nearly 400 fans turned up to her debut album launch in Canberra, where Sami lived for 3 years, she hopes that this album launch will be as successful. Sami moved to Newcastle in 2016 and now resides in Branxton, west of the city with her boyfriend of over 3 years.  Because she isn’t a local, she doesn’t think 400 people will come to her album launch. She estimates the number would probably be around 150, but I think she is being too modest.

Aside from the album launch, 2018 appears to be a big year for Sami. She’s currently performing at the Tamworth Country Music Festival and will continue to play over 100 various gigs around the Newcastle and Hunter Valley areas. She also tells me that she will be studying a Bachelor of Communciation, majoring in Media Studies at Newcastle University this year. Sami loves to write and keeps her fans up-to-date with her tours and music via her blog. She also keeps busy by doing various modelling jobs and will continue these various projects throughout the year.

As our interview comes to a close and we part ways, I walk off smiling, completely awestruck by Sami. Not only is she multi-talented and an amazing singer, she is also friendly and confident. These attributes make her the artist that she is- an artist to be proud of. Her 7,000 Facebook fans can’t be wrong.

Sami feb gigs


  1. Thank you so much! You really helped capture my life in this article. Great read!


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