Joseph Anthony Somers-Morales, a.k.a. SoMo, has a simple but effective musical philosophy.

"If it sounds good," he says, "people will listen to it."
SoMo should know. Since 2011, he's been the driving force behind monumentally popular series of YouTube videos in which he sings cover versions of songs by artists from Chris Brown to Ellie Goulding. His most popular video, a medley of songs from Drake's Take Care album, has garnered more than five million views to date.

"I put up these videos, and the only way to market yourself is to just put them up there and hope people will share them," SoMo says. "People just kept listening, and sharing, and sharing, and now I'm here."

Building on his success on YouTube, SoMo has also become a songwriter and major-label recording artist in his own right. His self-titled debut album on Republic Records was released in April 2014, and there's another record in the works.


somo-smallAt the heart of SoMo’s success is his voice. His smooth, self-assured R&B style seems tailor-made for radio—or rather, the Internet. Surprisingly, aside from a few vocal lessons when he was younger, he’s largely self-taught.

“I’ve been singing ever since I can remember,” says SoMo. “My dad’s a musician, so it was just kind of around.”

Despite his vocal gifts, until recently the Dallas, Texas-based artist never entertained dreams of becoming a professional musician.

“I started to do covers as a hobby,” he explains. “Music’s always been very special to me, but I didn’t see myself pursuing music as a career. Because as most musicians know, there’s no guarantee that you can make a really good living doing it. So I thought I was just going to have a normal job.”

Even after his videos blew up on YouTube, SoMo initially aspired to be a songwriter rather than an artist in his own right.

“The first song I wrote was ‘Ride,’ in 2012,” he says. “That’s the song that went real big for me, and it’s one of the first hooks I ever wrote. Then I wrote ‘Kings and Queens’ with Cody Tarpley, one of my producers. That was the first full song I ever wrote, and it was a pretty cool experience.”

Since then he’s also written with producers like Harmony Samuels, The Rascals, and Mick Schultz. “But I write my own melodies and lyrics,” SoMo adds. “Because after doing covers for so long, I feel like if I’m going to put out music under my name, SoMo, then the words should come from my head.”

Whether he’s working out new ideas solo or with a collaborator, there’s one constant: his Yamaha Motif XF7.

“The Motif is the only keyboard I like to use,” says SoMo. “When I’m writing, I start on the Motif. It’s got that classic Rhodes sound, which is one of my favorite sounds to sing to. And then the normal, standard, preset piano, and different strings to layer it up. It’s really fun to use the sequencer and all the samples, and build a song from scratch with the Motif. But for live shows, it has to be a Motif. I can’t deal with other brands. Those main samples are my go-to sounds.”

After more than a hundred performances in 2014, mostly at mid-sized clubs from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Seattle, Washington, SoMo is planning a new tour to cover some of the cities he missed the first time around. Meanwhile, he’s working on his follow-up album. And every Sunday he still releases a new cover video on YouTube.

“I think the covers have allowed me to keep my fans engaged while I also work on my regular music,” SoMo explains. “We live in an ADHD world right now, so you’ve got to keep reminding people who you are. ‘SoMo Sunday’ might not last forever, but I’m doing it as long as I can. And yeah, I just want to keep writing and growing, and write songs that people connect to and last forever. And keep being the same artist that my fans know and love.”