R&B fans suffered a significant loss on August 27th when news arrived that singer Sam Salter passed away. Salter broke through in 1997 with his lead single “After 12, Before 6,” which lead to his debut album It’s On Tonight via La Face Records. It’s On Tonight yielded two more singles, but for many R&B fans, the bulk of Sam’s debut is still in rotation thanks to the fresh production and Salter’s vocals. Salter worked with Tricky Stewart and Laney Stewart, who produced the majority of the album. He also got some heat from Tony Rich, Robin Thicke, and Gordon Chambers.
In the summer of 2000, I had just graduated high school, and watching BET’s Midnight Love was part of my nightly ritual after arriving home before curfew. One night, the network played Sam’s new video “Once My Shh,” and I rushed to my local record store to buy the single the next day. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate it, so I had to resort to P2P sites to add the song to my collection. Sam wrote the song with Donnie Boynton, Ken “K-Farm” Fambro and Tab. In addition, Boynton and Fambro handled the song’s production.
Before Trey Songz coined the term “Mr. Steal Yo Girl,” Sam was out here letting the current boyfriend know that he can always set up a love session with his former flame. Now, on the one hand, you want to give someone the side-eye who is trying to steal your girl at age forty. However, Sam was only 25 when the song was recorded, so he was still coming into his own. Furthermore, Sam sings the lyrics with so much conviction that you’re willing to let it slide.
For the most part, Sisqó of Dru Hill was the face of R&B in the summer of 2000, due to his hit singles “Thong Song” and “Incomplete.” Ironically, Salter had “Incomplete” first before it was offered to Sisqó. A few more songs that became hits for others, including Color Of Love (Boyz II Men) and 15 Minutes (Marc Nelson), were supposed to be on Sam’s second album. While we will never know why Sam’s second album, The Little Black Book, was shelved, I still feel it was a missed opportunity by his label LaFace. A summer/fall tour with Donell Jones, Sam’s label mate at the time, would’ve done crazy numbers.
Sam would continue to make a name for himself on the independent scene as a vocal coach and in-demand writer. While the vocal talent of Sam Salter never got it’s just due, and he is no longer here in spirit; as Mathew 5:4 says, Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Final Grade: A
Sam’s debut, It’s On Tonight, is available on all stream platforms. “Once My Shh” can be heard on YouTube.