Redmond high graduate to open for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at Northern Arizona University
By SAMANTHA PAK
Redmond Reporter Reporter
February 27, 2013 · 2:32 PM
Seattle-area music typically brings to mind visions of young men with long hair sporting flannel, singing about teen spirit, a troubled boy named Jeremy or a black hole sun washing away the rain.
But the Pacific Northwest is branching out from its long-established grunge image and beginning to make its mark in the hip-hop world. And two of the biggest names currently in the business are Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, whose bargain-hunting anthem "Thrift Shop" spent four weeks in the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Hot 100 list.
The duo is currently on tour around the country and next week, they will be teaming up with another Northwest name: 2011 Redmond High School graduate Sam Roberts, who will be opening for the pair in their upcoming performance at Northern Arizona University on March 9. The performance is part of mtvU's Woodies Tour, which honors and highlights "music college students love."
The opportunity to perform came about after Roberts, 20, heard Macklemore — whose real name is Ben Haggerty — and Lewis would be performing at NAU. Roberts, a sophomore at the school studying communications with a focus on advertising, contacted the event organizers and requested to open the show. The young aspiring rapper included links to his music in his request and then utilized social media to campaign for the gig. It took about two weeks for the school, MTV and Haggerty and Lewis to approve and grant his request.
"Overjoyed," Roberts said about how he felt when he received the news. "I was going crazy all day. It was unbelievable."
Roberts' mother Miranda Roberts said their family — who now lives in Kirkland — is "excited and proud that the effort he put into achieving his goal has paid off," adding that there are other benefits to her son opening for Macklemore and Lewis.
"Our friends are all delighted, too, because it's giving them 'street cred' with their kids," she said.
Sam has also received a lot of support from his fellow students, as well as school officials and administration at NAU. He said the latter has been particularly nice because it is usually the athletic department that gets highlighted, not the arts.The show sold out within two days of tickets going on sale and will be at the school's Union Fieldhouse, which holds more than 2,000 people.
Sam has vied to open for other acts who have performed at NAU, but this will be the first time his efforts have been successful. The fact that it's for two artists from the same part of the country as him makes it particularly special for Sam. He added that the duo's current popularity will hopefully bring more attention to Seattle-area hip-hop and eventually introduce more Northwest artists to the world.
"We do have more than just rock and grunge," Sam said.
His interest in music began when he was younger, beginning with the guitar and then the drums. Sam also spent about a year on the turntables as a DJ but eventually sold his equipment and began writing songs, which he said allows him to be more creative. He emphasized that he mainly raps, admitting that he's "not the best singer." In addition to Macklemore, other emcees Sam named as influences include Nas, Mac Miller, Machine Gun Kelly and the Nomads.
While music may not be the most stable career path, Miranda said they have always encouraged Sam to pursue his passions and seeing his "talent for writing, performing and marketing combine in such a positive outcome is exciting for (them) all."
"We have always said that once he has his degree, he can select whatever career path he wishes," she said. "Today he is studying communications with a major in advertising, so his passion for music and his promotion of that, could work well in tandem."Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.