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​The revealing Sam Smith

Anthony Mason travels to England to visit with a rising star, Sam Smith, whose song, "Stay With Me," has been dominating the charts
Going home with singer Sam Smith 07:41

Correspondent Anthony Mason introduces us to a newly-minted musical phenomenon:

His is the voice behind the international smash, "Stay With Me." Almost overnight, that soulful falsetto has made Sam Smith one of the biggest stars in the world.

"Do you think you were prepared for where you are now?" asked Mason.

"I think I -- no, no. Actually 100 percent no," laughed Smith.

To watch the music video of Sam Smith's "Stay With Me," click on the player below.

Early this year, the 22-year-old singer had two songs top the British charts, including "Money on My Mind."

"I wanted it so bad," Smith said, "and I still want it so bad, that the thought of being 60 years old and thinking 'I could have tried harder' makes me feel sick."

Then he invaded America.

"It was possibly the scariest night of my entire life," he said of his appearance on "Saturday Night Live." "Also, my manager cleverly on the morning said to me, 'This is the most important night of your entire life,' which is ridiculous. But it was!"

His album, "In the Lonely Hour," is the bestselling debut of the year in the U.S. The 6'3"-inch singer, who is suddenly everywhere, seemed to come out of nowhere.

"It's really hard to explain where I come from, actually," said Smith, "because Cambridge is half an hour away. London's an hour away."

Sam Smith on his singing roots 00:39

Smith grew up in the rural English village of Great Chishill, where he started mapping out a career before he was even a teenager.

His plan, he said, was "to move to London, become a famous singer."

His mother, a banker, and his stay-at-home dad noticed his talent. So did neighbors like Jim Cunningham: "He was here causing all kind of trouble, and he used to be screeching out of that window up there," he laughed. "But it was wonderful."

In grade school, at St. Thomas More, he sang in the school musicals. When Smith returned with Mason last month, his album had just hit #1 again in England.

The students were singing "Stay With Me."

After school, Smith would walk for hours along country roads, headphones on, singing along to Beyonce.

"This is my little spot," he showed Mason. "And I got my first-ever job in a news agency over there. It's weird."

"How'd you happen to pick this spot?" Mason asked.

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"I don't know. It's just something about listening to the music and looking at that for me. It just made the music sound sweeter.

"I remember sometimes being here, I'd be listening to music for hours and hours, and then suddenly this car would just screech up here, my Dad thinking I'd been kidnapped!"

His father would connect him with music teacher Joanna Eden. The first song he sang for her: "Come Fly With Me."

By age 12, he had his first manager.

Sam Smith doesn't want to be pigeonholed 00:51

But it didn't all come easily.

"I had adults around me promising me things which they knew in their head was a lie," he said. "And that was the most horrible thing."

"Did you start to doubt yourself at all?" Mason asked.

"One-hundred percent," he replied. "Even now I doubt myself. I don't understand what people hear in my voice. I can't hear it myself, if you know what I mean."

Smith's breakthrough came in 2012, when the electronic group Disclosure asked him to sing lead on their hit, "Latch." [To listen to streaming audio click on the player below.]

That's when he and his producer, Jimmy Napes, started writing songs together. In a week they had the tune, "I'm Not the Only One."

Smith and Napes also co-wrote "Stay With Me." The chorus is actually Smith's voice recorded in about 40 different takes.

"It felt like we built a choir out of just Sam's voice," said Napes. "And it was just me and Sam. And it was like run to that corner of room; now that corner; higher up here, and then higher right."

Smith added, "I'm kind of annoyed that everyone thinks it's a gospel choir."

"'Cause it's all you!" said Mason.

"Yeah. I want the credit!"

Smith says his album was inspired by his unrequited love for a married man.

"I told all my secrets on that album," he said. "My deepest and darkest secrets. I'm a very open person. I'm a very honest person. But to me, the things that I've always kept hidden were the fact that I was a bit lonely, and the fact that maybe I've loved someone and they didn't love me back.

"And when I decided to tell the entire world that and call my record 'In the Lonely Hour,' which I just didn't think through, I didn't realize quite how much I was revealing!"

It's not just the voice -- it's his vulnerability that has made Sam Smith a star.

"Part of your success," said Mason, "is that you have shown all of yourself."

"Yeah, I know. Hearing a whole entire room sing back to me, 'I guess it's true I'm not good at a one-night stand,' you know, I just can't explain the feeling. It's unreal. You feel like you've just read your diary to thousands of people and they've gone, 'It's okay. We still love you.'"

To hear streaming audio of Sam Smith's remix of "I'm Not the Only One," featuring rap artist A$AP Rocky, click on the player below.

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