Songbird SAMI set to star tonight

SAMI is set to perform on the main stage at Cowra's inaugural Christmas Night Markets. Photo contributed.
SAMI is set to perform on the main stage at Cowra's inaugural Christmas Night Markets. Photo contributed.

Beyonce, Rihanna and Adele all found chart-topping success after cutting loose the shackles of their surname, which bodes very well for Sami Cooke, aka songbird SAMI.

The 17-year-old singer / songwriter from Young is headlining Cowra's inaugural Christmas Night Markets tonight, performing a mix of Christmas carols, classic covers and her own songs.

Ms Cooke has just finished her HSC and is set to embark on a year-long tour next year, taking in towns from the bottom of Victoria to the tip of Queensland.

It's a relief for the teen who's used to juggling legal assessments with weekends on the road to be able to concentrate solely on her music, and between the launch of her album 'SAMI - Every Passing Minute' and the upcoming tour, she's got plenty to keep her occupied.

"People keep asking me 'Have you been missing school?' and I've just been like 'No way!'" Ms Cooke said.

"It's absolutely amazing to be out of school and to just be doing music full time."

The mononymous songstress has recently returned from the Australian Songwriters Association Awards in Sydney, where she was a finalist with three originals and was ranked in the top 10.

She was also a finalist for two songs at the MusicOz awards, which she said is crazy for someone so young.

"It's incredible to have so much recognition for my own original songs," Ms Cooke said.

"I've been hearing lots of feedback from my album; they love the original songs because they know it's all stories about my life."

Chronicling your life through song has its cringeworthy moments though, as the young songster has discovered.

"It's kind of awkward when people know you're singing about them but I guess that's what happens when you're a singer / songwriter and you have to keep writing songs all the time," Ms Cooke said.

It's not much of a stretch to imagine the girl who's holding an album launch next February in lieu of an 18th birthday bash and who busks in her spare time becoming a household name and she's putting in the hard yards to secure a future for herself in the music business.

"We've just been working so hard and pushing and pushing and getting to where I am now," Ms Cooke said.

"I have a huge passion for music, I love it and I live it."

When it comes to her upcoming performance in Cowra, Ms Cooke said she's excited to perform a whole range of hits and to get the crowd singing along.

"I love big songs; big challenging songs," Ms Cooke said.

"I do bush ballads as well as country pop and country rock. I also do lots of cover songs like 'Flame Trees' where people just join in and they love it."

She may even be joined on stage by her Cowra-based boyfriend, with whom she recently penned a duet.

When asked if her mono-moniker is a sign of great things to come, she laughed.

"I hope so! I would love to end up like Beyonce," she said.

"We agreed when I got into music that we'd drop the 'Cooke' because everyone uses their last name so why not be just a little bit different. It's easy for people to remember and it also helps mum, because when we first started, she used to get the whole 'stage mum' label which is funny because I'm the one pushing her to get me gigs."

SAMI will be performing on the main stage near Brisbane Street at the Cowra Christmas Night Markets at 7pm.

katie.burgess@fairfaxmedia.com.au