Sam Boer knew that he'd always play music, but he had no idea that it would end up being such a big part of his career. Since graduating in 2017, he has been involved with many aspects of music and is loving the creative journey.

Most recently, Sam had the exciting experience of staging his own musical.

In 2020, Sam had just finished his master's, and his friend Jake Schlindler contacted him with a couple of songs he had written, asking Sam if he wanted to contribute something. What he was expecting to be casual involvement turned into a full-fledged musical. During the onset of the pandemic, Sam and Jake started meeting every week by Zoom until they had created Ursa: A Folk Musical – a whimsical show about the star-crossed friendship between an anxious bear and a restless teenager.

They applied to a few places to present it, and the Watershed Festival in Kingston gave them some funding to film a 15-minute excerpt. He and some of his artist friends filmed a sample piece the best they could in April 2021, using Zoom. Having this tangible teaser to showcase the work made it easier to shop around and apply to other festivals. The musical received its full-length premiere as part of the Toronto Fringe's NextStage Festival in January of 2022, and was described as “combining the joys of a folk concert with the timeless wisdom of a folktale.” Sam performs in the show and serves as the Narrator.

"There's a lesson in the fact that people want to explore with you if you have the gumption to ask." Sam admits that he tends to be fairly reserved and anxious about sharing his work or asking other artists to get involved. But he has usually found that people are happy to be asked and will get involved in some way, even if it's only to provide some feedback.

Sam credits his fourth-year thesis advisor at King's, Jeremy Greenway, for encouraging him to be more assertive. At one point, Sam found himself stuck with a piece of work he was using. Professor Greenway suggested that Sam just reach out to the author of the work and ask his questions. The author responded and was happy to answer Sam's questions. That little piece of advice really helped him. Sam remembers many of his King's professors fondly, explaining they instilled not just a love of reading but gave him a great foundation to draw on when he is writing.

While completing his History degree, Sam thought he'd become a professor. Music was always an interest, and he was thankful that King's gave him so many opportunities to get involved with musical pursuits. He was heavily involved with both the King's Players and the King's University College Chamber Choir and loved that these clubs “embraced anyone who wanted to participate.” It was while performing with his guitar during O-Week that Sam met Jake, mentioned above, and Stephen Ingram (both are Western students also involved with Ursa: A Folk Musical).

After graduating, Sam continued singing, writing songs, and performing instruments for various bands while performing at festivals across Canada. In 2019, Sam released his debut full-length album Pigeon, under the name Samson Wrote. The well-received folk music album explores how familial upbringing affects life's most intimate moments. It was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Awards nomination. Sam has focused on becoming involved in all aspects of the folk music community. He has written music journalism, hosted a podcast, led children's music classes, filmed videos for different bands, and helped produce two online, 24-hour international arts festivals during the pandemic.

Sam's schedule will not be slowing down any time soon. He's planning iterations of Ursa: The Musical at the Grand Theatre in Kingston and in Tweed, where he'll get to stage his show, which takes place in a cave, in an actual cave. Meanwhile, he's planning a European tour this summer to perform his Samson Wrote songs. Sam is grateful he's been able to partake in so many “adventures with folk music.”

When asked for any advice he would give to current students or recent graduates considering pursuing a musical career, Sam reflected that there's a lot of pressure these days to promote yourself before you really know who you are. His advice: “Hold off a bit on marketing yourself and just breathe and exist and love.”

For more on Sam's work and upcoming hows, visit: https://samsonwrote.ca