What: Lauren Spencer-Smith: Unplugged
When: Saturday, July 27, at 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Port Theatre, 125 Front St., Nanaimo
Tickets: Starting at $49 at tickets.porttheatre.com
Fifteen-year-old Lauren Spencer-Smith has had to step out of her Grade 10 math class to answer calls from talk-show producers in Los Angeles.
It’s one of the new demands the Nanaimo teenager is juggling after a video of her singing in the car with her dad went viral in March. The video received more than 19 million views on Facebook in just a few weeks, garnering attention from celebrities such as American comedian and talk-show host Steve Harvey, and kick-starting Spencer-Smith’s professional singing career.
“It’s so surreal,” she said. “It’s amazing to know that that many people are supporting you.”
Spencer-Smith appeared on Harvey’s show in May, performing Pink’s What About Us.
Now that school is out for the summer, Spencer-Smith has more time to focus on her music career. She quit the restaurant job she’d been working five nights a week after school to give herself more time to sing and record videos.
On Saturday, she will perform her first major solo concert, at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo.
It will not be the first time Spencer-Smith has performed in front of a large crowd.
At 11, she won a radio competition to sing with Keith Urban and performed with the country singer in front of 20,000 people at the Sunfest Country Music Festival in the Cowichan Valley. Spencer-Smith is comfortable on stage, even next to a star and in front of thousands of people.
“No part of me was scared to go up there. The more scary part was meeting Keith Urban,” she said. “I was definitely really excited more than nervous. That opportunity doesn’t get given to a lot of people.”
The teenager has been singing for as long as she can remember. Drawing inspiration from Adele and Billie Eilish, she gravitates toward both country and pop. “I wouldn’t say there was a time when I started singing. From a young age, I wanted to be in front of people and perform.”
Her first performance was a school talent show at age six. A few years later, she was entering competitions. As she got older, her parents realized she had talent.
Spencer-Smith took vocal lessons for a few months when she was nine, but stopped when her instructor moved away. She said she doesn’t do anything now to train her voice. “I probably should,” she said. “But every year I get older, my voice gets better as it matures.”
Spencer-Smith has just returned from Los Angeles, where she was working with record producer Harvey Mason Jr. The six-time Grammy winner has worked with such names as Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston.
While in L.A., Spencer-Smith collaborated with songwriters on an album she plans to release in the fall. In May, she released her first single, a cover of Lady Gaga’s Always Remember Us This Way, the song Spencer-Smith sang in her viral video.
Spencer-Smith said she picked the song, from A Star is Born — the movie in which Gaga stars — because her mother thinks it’s one she performs well.
“My mom knows best.”
As for what’s next for the up-and-coming artist, she’s learning new songs for another performance at Sunfest Festival this summer, hoping to start writing her own songs and, of course, starting Grade 11 in the fall.