Sam Smith says his new album is dedicated to the war children of Iraq
Singer Sam Smith says his song-writing has been inspired by Iraq.
The Oscar-winning performer spent time in Mosul, northern Iraq, to learn about injustices in the world while writing his second album, The Thrill Of It All.
The 25-year-old visited charity programmes on the Jordanian border with Syria while working with War Child UK.
“I spent five days in Mosul and came back embarrassed that I had known so little about the world and other people’s lives,” he told Billboard magazine.
Mosul has faced intense warfare in the past 18 months, with 40,000 feared dead as Islamic State and Iraqi Government battled for control of the city.
It was only on 9 July 2017 that the Iraqi Prime Minister arrived in Mosul to announce victory over IS.
Sam explained: “I went back to that great Nina Simone quote, that it is important to speak about the times you live in. I hadn’t done that; I’d just written a bunch of songs about love.
“So I wanted to write about how I’m now starting to open my eyes, at 25, to what is going on in the rest of the world, and that it’s not always pretty.”
The multi-million album selling artist admitted that his most recent music made him feel “guilt” for being primarily about romance, and not more serious issues.
He told the Press Association in an exclusive interview: “When I was in Iraq I had just about finished my (second) album and I hate to say it and I’m embarrassed to say it, but I had been living in a bubble until I landed in Iraq.
“As a kid, I really didn’t pay attention to the news, I saw adverts on TV all the time and I was aware, but I wasn’t fully aware of what was going on in these countries, especially the Middle East.”
He continued: “When I got to Iraq I just felt guilty and ashamed really that I hadn’t been paying attention and all these horrific things had been happening as I was living my life as a kid worrying about the silliest things.”
Sam is supporting War Child UK with their campaign to raise funds and awareness about the challenges facing children of conflict.
— War Child UK (@WarChildUK) December 4, 2017
His song Pray, for the number one selling second album, was inspired by his time in the Middle East.
He said: “I got home and I was listening to my album which was an album about love and boys. After you come back from these places you sit down and just feel huge amounts of guilt, for where you live and your life, because you feel it’s not fair that you’re living your life the way you are and these beautiful kids and families that you’ve met are living the way they are.
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“So I sat down and wrote Pray and that song is about me and my relationship with the world and the news and how much it opened my eyes.”
Homosexuality is illegal and punishable with execution in Iraq.