I sat in the historic Pasadena Theater today to eagerly watch HAM: A Musical Memoir about Sam Harris, the dynamic singer who won the hearts of 25 million Americans, when he won the title of Grand Champion in the popular television show – Star Search. This was the ultimate talent show 30 years before American Idol, America’s Got Talent and The Voice hit the air waves.
I marvel at the performing career this talented man has consistently enjoyed. Here are 10 fun facts about Sam Harris –
1. In 2014, Harris wrote an autobiography filled with essays and stories about his life for a book published by Simon and Schuster, titled Ham (Slices of a Life). It became a best seller.
2. With the association of Broadway Producer Suzi Dietz, Harris turned his book Ham into a one man show with his piano playing, co-composer and musical director Todd Schroeder.
3. The one set musical revue Sam Harris HAM: A Musical Memoir is directed by Ken Sawyer and Billy Porter (winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Lead Actor in a Musical for Kinky Boots).
4. Harris grew up in the Bible-Belt town of Sand Springs, Oklahoma. There is no sand or springs in the town, yet at an early age Harris knew he was different and gifted.
5. At the age of three, Harris’ father, the music director at the local high school, had him sing in front of a crowd-filled stadium during an athletic game. The sound of applause was intoxicating.
6. Harris would sing at any chance he got, from school musicals such as South Pacific to talent shows. At one talent show, he performed in multiple categories and won 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.
7. When he father took him to baseball signups, Harris knew he was different. He didn’t quite fit in with the team and after a week of tryouts, was told he could be the water boy. He continued pursuing singing and acting.
8. Hi friend from high school, Rochelle took Sam to a revival church in the black part of town. Harris discovered how to sing with joy from his soul.
9. Hi first LA gig was at Gio’s on Sunset Blvd. He sang to an empty dining room, yet his manager knew he had a star on his hands and got him an audition to Star Search. Harris won Star Search with his rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” In Sam Harris HAM: A Musical Memoir the last scene is a tender version of the winning song that will leave a tear in your eyes and a fondness for this exceptional man.
10. Sam is married and has one son. His family means the world to him.
The limited engagement of HAM: A MUSICAL MEMOIR plays at The Pasadena Playhouse, 39 South El Molino Avenue in Pasadena. Performances are Saturday, July 9 at 2 pm and 8 pm and Sunday, July 10 at 2 pm. Tickets are $27 – $82 and are available online at PasadenaPlayhouse.org, by phone at 626-356-PLAY (7529).