Armed with these two things, he managed to achieve a hit single, "I Like It," while still in junior high. Then, his impressive Capitol Records debut album, From the Bottom to the Top, went platinum in 2000, selling over a million copies. It also helped usher in a new youth movement in R&B and Hip-Hop music, lighting the way for Bow Wow, Lil' Romeo and other child stars to blaze their way up the charts.
But then, at the height of his young career, Sammie disappeared. Poof - gone without a trace. What happened?
The Time Off
"I took time off to finish high school," he revealed, speaking via phone from his home state of Florida. "I value education, and my parents and I made the decision that I would go to school."
Sammie, who splits his time between Atlanta and Florida, then enrolled in West Orange High School in Orlando, Florida.
"Giving up music and going back to school was a spur-of-the-moment decision," he explained. "It was very difficult, it was a lot of stress, but it was something that I had to do," he explains.
So what did he miss the most about being away from the music business?
"More than anything, I missed the fans. I missed being able to keep them abreast of what's going on. I missed being onstage, singing. And I missed the money," he said, laughing.
So how was he able to eventually cope with going from being a music star to being an ordinary kid again?
"I have a strong family," he said. "My family is my foundation and I have a strong belief in God. Plus, I always wanted to stay humble." Sammie found out being an average kid and fitting in with other students wasn't so bad; he eventually wound up playing for the school's basketball team and was even crowned homecoming king.
His hard work and faith eventually paid off: Sammie graduated from West Orange High on May 19, 2005. Then what did he do? The following month, he started working on his next album.
The road to a comeback was actually paved months before graduation, when Sammie ran into music producer Dallas Austin (who executive-produced Sammie's first album) in Atlanta. At a birthday party for the producer, Dallas -- completely out of the blue -- declared that he wanted to sign Sammie to his Rowdy Records label when Sammie turned 18 on March 1, 2005. And the rest is history.
The New Album
But can Sammie come back and become a successful artist again, after so many years away from the music game? Only time will tell. But one thing's for sure: he's coming out aiming to succeed. His 14-song sophomore album, appropriately entitled Sammie, features hot, big-name producers Jazze Pha, Brian M. Cox and Dallas Austin, among others, as well as a few guest appearances.
"I've been following the trends and keeping up on them," he said.
So how does the current Sammie and his music differ from the 12-year-old version from years ago?
"Of course, my voice is deeper, more mature," he said. "My first album was crossover, but this one is more R&B."
The album's first single, the Jazze Pha-produced, Hip-Hop-influenced "You Should Be My Girl," isn't really indicative of what the entire album's like, he said.
"It's so different from the rest of the album, that's why we decided to make it the first single," he explained.
Back on StageThe album's due out in the fall, but Sammie's already back in the saddle performing onstage again. He's performed a few dates here and there as part of the Pantene Total You Tour, also featuring Tyrese, Goapele and former Destinys Child member Letoya Luckett, among others.
"For some reason, I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would (performing again onstage)," he said.
Next up for him this summer is a spot on BET's fifth annual Scream Tour, with Bow Wow and others.
A Crowded Field
During the time he's been away, the music field has become more crowded, especially when it comes to performers in his age bracket. In addition to the rappers Bow Wow and Romeo, there's the singers Omarion, Marques Houston and Chris Brown, who have all emerged in Sammie's absence. Sammie realizes and acknowledges this.
"It's a competition -- there's only one number one spot out there," he said. "But at the same time, I support all those dudes. I even went out and bought some of their albums."
Balancing ActBut despite picking up where he left off regarding his music career, Sammie said he still intends to further his education, which could require him to balance school and music:
"Maybe this fall, I'll talk to a few universities," he said.
But one thing is definite, he said: despite going to college sometime in the future, he isn't abandoning his music career again. Sammie's back, and back to stay, he said.
"No, I'm not takin' a break this time," he emphatically said, laughing at the very notion. "I'm here to stay."