Lauren Spencer Smith has been singing her whole life — and for good reason.
"It's the only thing that I ever wanted to do," the 19-year-old singer, who was born in England and moved to Vancouver Island as a child, told CBC News in an interview.
Spencer Smith is nominated for artist of the year at this year's Juno Awards — the lone early-career artist in the category, a David amongst Goliaths as she competes against Michael Bublé, Shawn Mendes, Avril Lavigne and the Weeknd.
"When I was nominated for artist of the year, that was definitely not the category that I thought I was going to be nominated for," she said.
"I was like, that's what Shawn Mendes and all the big, huge artists get nominated for. So I was definitely shocked and I was so excited."
Spencer Smith appeared on the U.S. reality TV contest American Idol in 2020, finishing in the top 20, but she credits her musical sensibilities to a range of Canadian influences.
She was a diehard Belieber growing up, for one. Her parents got her into Céline Dion and Shania Twain. And a recent love for Avril Lavigne has blossomed in the last two years.
If you're sad, I'm your girl. - Lauren Spencer Smith
Spencer Smith has also been referred to as Canada's Olivia Rodrigo, an American singer-songwriter, for her teenage confessionals.
"I would say all my songs are very sad, depressed, sad girl, pop, breakup, typical ballads. My biggest influence was Adele, and then more recently one of my bigger songwriter influences is Olivia Rodrigo. So I'd say it's probably a good mix between those two stylistically," she said.
"But it's really just sad breakup pop ballads," she added. "So if you're sad, I'm your girl."
Spencer Smith says she's still shocked that she gets to make music for a living — "I'm always undermining myself" — but she's no stranger to the Juno Awards, having been nominated for the first time in 2019 for her debut album, Unplugged, Vol. 1, and then performing during the telecast last year.
"I think I was just so young that I didn't understand the importance of things, as young teenagers don't," she said of her first nomination.
This year was different, because she was "manifesting every single day, like, 'I'm going to be nominated for a Juno.' Like, just hoping, wishing that I was going to be nominated for one."
Spencer Smith will perform at the Junos Songwriters' Circle on Sunday and present an award during Monday night's broadcast from Edmonton. But she's also up for a second prize: the TikTok Juno fan choice award.
"I feel like I owe my life to social media at this point because it's just been the main factor of how I've been able to share my music with so many people," she said.
WATCH | The music video for Lauren Spencer Smith's Finger Crossed:
Her song Fingers Crossed catapulted her into the international spotlight after it went viral on TikTok last year. The social media platform has made it possible for Spencer Smith to share her music with a wide audience, particularly teenage girls who find comfort in her songs.
"All these young girls, we all develop the exact same personality based on what's trending on TikTok. And so I find when I go to my shows, I'm relating — I mean, everybody's my age anyway — but we're relating on all these topics of everything that's been trending on TikTok, my songs, other people's songs," she said.
"And we all kind of become this community of people who are just really supportive of each other."
Spencer Smith often works with songwriters in the United States and has a fan base in the United Kingdom. She said she loves travelling all over the world and sharing her music with "as many people as possible."
"I think most artists' goal is always to be worldwide. I think it's super important to always have a dedication to your home country, and I definitely want to be big in Canada because that's where I grew up," she said.
"If I could just be a Canadian pop star, I would also just be happy with that because I love Canada."