He’s the Memphis whiz kid, viral sensation on YouTube, racking up nearly 75,000 views with a viral video entitled, “You Can Be ABCs.”
Meet Sam, 6-year-old prodigy, who raps about careers beginning from A to Z with dad, Robert “Bobby” White Jr., beatboxing in the background.
“I was surprised that it went viral so fast,” said Sam’s dad, who is a former executive assistant to then-Memphis mayor AC Wharton Jr. “Sam actually learned it last year when he was 5, and I just remembered that I hadn’t recorded it yet. And I have to give Sam credit for the choreography.”
The sensational video captured a national audience on NBC’s “Today Show” with Hoda and Jenna Tuesday (Oct. 27) morning.
“Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon commented, “That kid is a star! That’s so smart,” as he watched, along with millions of other viewers across the country.
White said when he told his son they were going to record it, Sam put down his smoothie and they knocked it out in the kitchen.
The YouTube upload was an instant favorite for thousands who shared it on other social media sites.
Sam and his dad wrote the rap together, his father said.
“The song came about because I wanted to teach Sam about careers,” said Bobby. “I found a track on iTunes, and that’s how it all got started. Sam thought of the ‘F’ for firefighter, and the ‘N’ for nurse.”
For anyone who knows the family, Sam’s mental feat is no big surprise. Robert Samuel White III started reading at age 2.
Sam thinks being a YouTube star is pretty cool. His brief interview with The New Tri-State Defender went something like this:
TSD: So, Sam, that is a super rap. How long did it take you to learn it?
Sam: Two weeks.
TSD: It’s a rap about careers. Do you know what you want to be when you grow up?
Sam: I want to be an architect.
TSD: Oh. Architect is the “A” in the You Can Be ABCs. Why did you decide on becoming an architect?
Sam: Because I want to build buildings.
Bobby: Tell her what kind of buildings you want to build, Sam.
Sam: I want to build stores and tall skyscrapers.
This isn’t Sam’s first TV appearance. He is featured in the MLGW public service announcements about conserving water.
“I’m Sam and let’s go save a little water today,” he says in the PSA.
Parents watching Sam’s video and noting his extremely advanced intellect for a 6-year-old may wonder whether his genius is hereditary or the product of his environment.
“If you’re wondering who created Sam, I created Sam – Jesus and me,” said his mother Stephanie Nerissa White.
“I would say 30 percent is hereditary, and the other is the result of how a child is socialized and shaped into the person he or she becomes.”
Stephanie says Sam loves to learn new things. Children are naturally curious. They curiosity has to be directed.
“I buy him great books to read,” she said.
“No matter how tired you are, as a parent, our job is to answer questions and pay attention to the little person in front of you.
“Sam is a voracious reader and does not watch television through the week. The television shouldn’t be used to entertain our children. He watches TV on Friday night, when the family has movie night. With the pandemic, we’ve eased that a little and given him more leeway to watch more television.”
Going forward, the couple has looked at their son’s educational path.
“I’m good with where he is right now,” Stephanie said. “We want him in a multi-cultural environment where he can pick up socialization cues from children of other races.”
Sam is a first-grader at Toddler Town Preparatory, a charter school.
Raising a genius is a lot of hard work. Sam’s parents only make it look easy.
“His education is more than just academics,” Stephanie said. “We want him to be intelligent but kind, smart, but not a know-it-all. Resourceful, not depending on others.”
Sam is a disciplined Christian, who prays every morning and every night, his mother said.
He has been taught from the cradle how to be an astute, critical thinker.
“When we are just having a conversation, I constantly ask Sam, ‘Why do you think that is?’ He will ask what a word means, I will give him the meaning, and before long, he is using the word in the correct context, too,” she said.
The Whites had Sam tested and assessed at age 4. He was moved ahead to kindergarten.
Sam and his parents hope the video will inspire children and their parents to reach beyond the limits to help children attain to their highest potential.
“A child imitates what he sees,” said Stephanie.
“Create an excitement and a buzz about learning. Your child will become excited as well. It’s really just that simple.”