If you’re a 321 Coffee regular, you know Sam Hening. And chances are, he knows you too! He’s a master at operating an espresso machine, a customer service extraordinaire, and an avid NC State fan, but did you know that Sam is also a talented musician?
In an interview, Sam shared: “Big S Music is my music name. I enjoy singing and playing my guitar at home and when people invite me [to play at events].” Sam recalled that he used to watch his mom, Suzanne, singing at church when he was growing up, to which he accredits his inspiration for becoming ‘Big S Music’. “In church, [I used to] play air drums and air guitar,” Sam continued, “Then, I started taking drum lessons, and later I moved on to guitar lessons.” Once Sam began taking guitar lessons, the rest was history – he has now taken guitar lessons for 10 years, and from 4 different instructors! Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Sam has been attending his lessons via virtual conference calls.
Not only is Sam passionate about playing guitar, but also enjoys writing his own songs, along with some help from his mom. When asked who or what motivates his songwriting, Sam explained that quite a few things inspire him: “Sometimes when I am at an event, I want to write a song about it afterward. Or, when I am around a group of people, I want to write a song about that. Other times, I have a strong feeling about something and I want to write about it.” Sam has written songs about 321 Coffee, his experience at a Carolina Hurricanes game, his love of summertime, and about Night to Shine prom, among other things. I’ve included links to some of Sam’s songs below, click to check them out!
321 Coffee, an original song by Sam and Suzanne Hening
Night to Shine, an original song by Sam and Suzanne Hening
Kind Heart, an original song by Sam and Suzanne Hening
Summer Time, an original song by Sam and Suzanne Hening
Sam has played at multiple venues, including 321 Coffee – which also happens to be Sam’s favorite place that he has gotten to share his music with others.
“[While I was playing guitar at 321 Coffee], I was surprised by Liam Ryan, an NC State football player,” Sam said, “I felt alive when people watched me play.” Ryan, an offensive lineman for NC State, also plays guitar and strummed a few songs alongside Sam as he played for customers at 321 Coffee.
Through Big S Music, Sam has also created a platform that allows him to advocate for individuals with IDD: “When I am playing and singing in public, or when people watch my YouTube channel, I think that people can see that I have thoughts, feelings, and talents just like anyone else.” As for what’s next for Sam, he is excited about a new song he’s writing about him and his best friend growing up together – and so far, it is his favorite out of any song he’s written.
To conclude my interview with Sam, I posed a fun question: ‘If you could choose any artist to collaborate with, who would you choose?’ For Sam, this was a no-brainer…he chose none other than North Carolina native and NC State alum Scotty McCreery, because he writes songs about people and places, and Sam is one of his biggest fans
Next time you see Sam at 321 Coffee, be sure to ask him about his music – and if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll catch him playing guitar and singing live!
Be sure to check out Sam’s music on YouTube, and subscribe to his channel here!
Photos courtesy of Mick Schulte Photography and 321 Coffee.