Sam Tsui

Samuel Tsui (born May 2, 1989)[1] is an American singer/songwriter, video producer and actor. He rose to fame as an internet celebrity known for doing covers and musical medleys of songs by pop artists like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Michael Jackson.[2] He has since released original songs and expanded to mashups.

Sam Tsui
Samuel Tsui

(1989-05-02) May 2, 1989 (age 31)
Blue Bell, Pennsylvania
OccupationSinger-songwriter, actor
Casey Breves
m. 2016)
Musical career
OriginBlue Bell, Pennsylvania, U.S.
  • vocals
  • piano
  • synthesizer
  • glockenspiel
Years active2008 – present
Associated acts

Tsui frequently collaborates with YouTuber and childhood friend Kurt Hugo Schneider. Their one-man a cappella videos have been described by Time as a combination of Glee and Attack of the Clones.[3]

As of August 2, 2020, Tsui had received over 3.19 million subscribers.[4]

Early life and educationEdit

Tsui was born on May 2, 1989.[1] He grew up in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, a street away from Kurt Schneider, his producer and accompanist, with whom he attended Wissahickon High School.[5][6][7] He was active in high school musicals, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Urinetown, Titanic, and Miss Saigon.[citation needed]

Tsui attended Yale University, where he was a member of Davenport College and The Duke's Men of Yale, an all-male acappella group.[8] He graduated from Yale with a major in Classics (Greek) in 2011.[5] He discovered his interest in the subject while taking ancient Greek at Yale during the summer in high school.[9]


2009–2010: Career BeginningsEdit

Tsui appeared on ABC World News on October 28, 2009, singing The Jackson 5's "I'll Be There".[10] He went on to perform on The Bonnie Hunt Show in November of the same year, where he was interviewed and performed Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)". He also appeared on It's On with Alexa Chung, singing Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" for the cast of American television series Glee.[11][12]

Kurt Schneider produced the musical web series College Musical, a parody of the High School Musical film series, in fall of 2008.[2] Four episodes were released, with Tsui playing the lead role of Cooper. Following the popularity of the series, it was announced that a film would be made based on the series. College Musical: The Movie premiered online in September 2014.[13]

In 2010, Tsui released his first cover album, The Covers. The album, released on February 9, 2010, features covers of hits from Michael Jackson, Journey, Beyoncé, Jason Mraz, and Lady Gaga among other artists. On February 22, 2010, Tsui appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show with his producer Kurt Schneider.[14] The two were interviewed, and Tsui performed his medley of Michael Jackson songs. On December 2, 2010, Tsui gave an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and performed a mashup of Katy Perry's "Firework" and Bruno Mars' "Grenade" with Schneider.[15][16] In December 2010, Tsui collaborated with fellow YouTube singer Christina Grimmie, singing "Just a Dream", which is the most viewed video on the YouTube channel "KurtHugoSchneider", with more than 100 million views.[17]

2011–2012: YouTube and rise in popularityEdit

In 2011, Tsui debuted his own YouTube channel, apart from his collaboration with Kurt Schneider. On February 3, 2011, Tsui was featured on Britney Spears' official website, along with his cover of "Hold It Against Me".[18] In November 2011, he made a mashup with "It Will Rain" by Bruno Mars and "Set Fire to the Rain" by Adele.

In March 2011, lyrics from Tsui's song "Start Again" was featured in the novel Seeker by Andy Frankham-Allen.[19]

Tsui was mentioned three times by Tom Hanks when he addressed the Yale class of 2011.[20] Tsui was also featured in the 2010 Yale Admissions video. The video, entitled "That's Why I Chose Yale",[21] reveals information about the college with students and admission officers breaking out into song across the campus. In 2017, he co-starred in a new admissions video entitled "That's Why I Toured Yale".[22] His Chinese fanbase refers to him as "Yale Guy".[9]

In fall 2011, Tsui was a digital correspondent for the third season of NBC's a capella competition show, The Sing-Off.[23] He recorded a "Judges Medley" that included Sara Bareilles' "Love Song", Ben Folds' "Gone" and Shawn Stockman's (Boyz II Men) "On Bended Knee".[24]

2013–present: Album, tours, future projectsEdit

In 2013, Tsui cover a song for a capella single "Meant to Be" from the Disney Channel Original Movie Teen Beach Movie.[citation needed]

Tsui released his first full-length original album, Make It Up, in May 2013 after a raising more than $64,000 through the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. The project was produced by Kurt Schneider.[25]

In summer 2013, Tsui and Schneider toured across Canada and the US with Alex Goot, Against the Current, Landon Austin, Luke Conard, and King the Kid.[26] In September 2013, Tsui and Schneider performed in Singapore and Hong Kong.[27]

Tsui continues to make covers of popular music on his YouTube channel while also collaborating with other YouTubers. In September 2013, Sam published a duet with Elle Winter entitled "Unsinkable (Music Is Medicine)" online. The proceeds of the single went towards pediatric cancer research as a part of the Music Is Medicine's Donate a Song project.[28][29] On October 3, 2013, Sam uploaded a photo via Instagram,[30] posing alongside Jason Mraz and Hunter Hayes. He announced that he shot a video with the two artists and would be releasing it soon. It was later revealed that he has collaborated with other YouTubers on a mash-up of their song, "Everybody's Got Somebody but Me".

Tsui's vocals were featured in a promotional video for Coca-Cola that premiered on January 14, 2014. In 2013, Kurt Hugo Schneider and Coca-Cola teamed up to create music videos featuring creative covers of two 2011 hits namely Calvin Harris' "Feel So Close" and Of Monsters and Men's "Little Talks" for a campaign called "The Sounds of AHH". The commercial edits of both premiered on the inaugural episode of season 13 of American Idol on January 14, 2014, on FOX with "Feel So Close" featuring the vocals of Tsui whereas Schneider makes music playing only Coca-Cola bottles, glasses and cans.[31] Tsui shares in co-playing on the bottles alongside Schneider.

In summer of 2014, Tsui and Schneider returned to Asia, performing in Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taipei.[32] They were also scheduled to perform in Beijing and Shanghai, but those shows did not push through.

In 2016, Tsui starred in an episode of Bones as collegiate acappella singing group member Jake Eisenberg.[33]

Personal lifeEdit

On April 15, 2016, Tsui posted a coming out video on his YouTube channel in which he announced that he is in a long-term relationship with fellow musician and collaborator Casey Breves.[34] They met while they were both at Yale (Tsui a freshman and Breves a junior) and were both part of an a cappella group on campus.[35] Tsui and Breves wed on April 16, 2016.[36]

His father is Chinese and emigrated from Hong Kong. His mother is White and from Iowa.[37] His paternal grandmother was a Chinese opera singer.[9] He has one brother.[38]

Tsui attended weekend Chinese school as a child and can speak some Cantonese.[39]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2015 Dahsyatnya Awards Outstanding Guest Star Himself (shared with Kurt Hugo Schneider) Nominated



  1. ^ a b Tsui, Sam (2010-05-02). "Woooo! 21 Years old! Thanks everyone for your birthday wishes! :-)". Twitter. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
  2. ^ a b Yager, Sarah (2010-01-29). "Kurt Schneider re(de)fines formula for YouTube success". The Yale Herald. Yale University. Archived from the original on 2010-09-05. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  3. ^ Fletcher, Dan (2009-11-23). "YouTube Effect: Making Money from Viral Videos". Time. Time Inc. Archived from the original on November 17, 2009. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  4. ^ "Sam Tsui on YouTube (TheSamTsui)". YouTube. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "The Duke's Men of Yale: Sam Tsui". Yale University. Archived from the original on 2013-12-27. Retrieved 2014-11-11.
  6. ^ "Sam Tsui's one-man choir hits YouTube". ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs. 2010-09-12. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  7. ^ "Sam Tsui & Kurt Schneider: The Covers". Sh-K-Boom Records. Archived from the original on 2010-02-17. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
  8. ^ "Meet The Duke's Men". The Duke's Men. Archived from the original on March 29, 2010. Retrieved February 25, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Zhang, Ziyu (December 5, 2019). "Sam Tsui: From 'Yale Guy' to YouTube influencer". CGTN. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
  10. ^ "Tsui-eet sounds on ABC's World News Tonight". Yale Daily News. The Yale Daily News Publishing Company. 2009-10-28. Archived from the original on 2010-11-27. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  11. ^ "Cross Campus: 11.12.09". Yale Daily News. The Yale Daily News Publishing Company. 2009-11-12. Archived from the original on 2012-09-24. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  12. ^ Joe (2009-11-11). "Sam Tsui upstages the entire cast of Glee". The Yale Herald. Yale University. Archived from the original on 2010-09-13. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  13. ^ Perlman, Jake (September 2, 2014). "'Girls' meets 'Glee'? Watch the trailer for 'College Musical' with Allison Williams". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2020-05-11.
  14. ^ "Incredible Feats". The Oprah Winfrey Show. Harpo Productions. 2010-02-22. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  15. ^ Zuckerman, Esther (2010-12-02). "Tsui '11 and Schneider '10 on 'Ellen'". Yale Daily News. The Yale Daily News Publishing Company. Archived from the original on 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  16. ^ "YouTube Sensation Sam Tsui Performs!". Warner Bros. December 2, 2010. Archived from the original on December 6, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  17. ^ Schneider, Kurt Hugo. "KurtHugoSchneider's Channel". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  18. ^ "My "Hold it Against Me" cover was just posted on @britneyspears official website!! Ahhh! :-D". Twitter. 2011-02-04. Retrieved 2011-02-06.
  19. ^ "Interview with Andy Frankham-Allen". The Accidental Author. 2011-03-26. Retrieved 2014-11-11.
  20. ^ Hanks, Tom (May 22, 2011). "Tom Hanks Addresses Yale Class of 2011". YouTube. Yale University.
  21. ^ "Video Gives Musical Answer to the Question: 'Why Choose Yale?'". Yale University. 2010-01-27. Retrieved 2014-11-11.
  22. ^ "Admissions to debut new video: update on the 'That's Why I Chose Yale' cast". Yale University. 2017-12-04. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  23. ^ Smith, Grady (September 16, 2011). "'The Sing-Off' season 3 preview with Sam Tsui". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2020-05-11.
  24. ^ Zuckerman, Esther (September 19, 2011). "Tsui '11 sings for 'Sing-Off'". Retrieved 2020-05-11.
  25. ^ Ed, Carrasco (May 10, 2013). "Sam Tsui Talks Release Of His First Original Album 'Make It Up' [INTERVIEW]". NewMediaRockstars. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
  26. ^ "Tour Dates – A Summer with Alex Goot and Friends". 2013-05-15. Archived from the original on November 5, 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-11.
  27. ^ "KHS Tour". 2013-09-26. Archived from the original on October 12, 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-11.
  28. ^ Nitkin, Karen (October 27, 2013). "Baltimore woman gleeful about making music to help sick children". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
  29. ^ Unsinkable - Sam Tsui & Elle Winter (Music Is Medicine Original) | Sam Tsui (YouTube video). TheSamTsui. September 9, 2013.
  30. ^ "Instagram (thesamtsui)". Retrieved 2014-11-11.
  31. ^ Moye, Jay (August 14, 2013). "Behind the Bottles: 5 Questions With Kurt Hugo Schneider". The Coca-Cola Company. Archived from the original on August 18, 2013.
  32. ^ "Kurt Hugo Schneider – Tour".
  33. ^ "Pentatonix, Sam Tsui, and Bruin Harmony Combine Forces For This Performance On Fox's "Bones"". College A Cappella. June 30, 2016. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  34. ^ Summers, Claude (June 4, 2016). "Celebrities Coming Out in the Internet Age". The New Civil Rights Movement. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  35. ^ TheSamTsui (2017-04-11), VLOG: The Proposal Story!!! ft. Casey Breves, retrieved 2017-04-12
  36. ^ Duffy, Nick (April 18, 2016). "YouTube singer Sam Tsui comes out and reveals surprise wedding". PinkNews. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  37. ^ Van, Alan (2012-11-13). "Sam Tsui | Singer & Songwriter (Interview)". New Media Rockstars. Retrieved 2014-11-11.
  38. ^ "Aca-scuse me? Aca-Tsui!". Yale Daily news. March 6, 2015. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
  39. ^ "At 9:15, Sam Tsui busts out his Cantonese". YouTube. Young Post. July 4, 2014. Retrieved 2015-01-08.

External linksEdit