British singer Sam Smith will return for a show in Auckland later this year a little wiser when it comes to his craft and a lot wiser when it comes to some of the more personal challenges he's faced.
Smith has just been Down Under promoting his upcoming tour, and told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp: "It's been really scary actually. I feel quite lonely as a gay man in music sometimes."
Smith has been open about his sexuality from the get go, but that's been accompanied by some tough lessons, most notably after his speech while accepting his 2016 Oscar for best original song.
"I read an article a few months ago by Sir Ian McKellan and he said that no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar," Smith said at the Oscars ceremony.
The statement wasn't accurate and inevitably the backlash was swift.
"If I say the wrong thing like I did in the Oscars it can really damage the community and what they've worked for. So I learnt the hard way I think," he told Australia Correspondent Kimberlee Downs.
Smith is more comfortable with the mantle of gay icon now, drawing inspiration from one of his personal heroes, the late singer-songwriter George Michael.
"George Michael has been part of my life since I was born. My parents and all my family were obsessed with him. I went to see him open Wembley Stadium when i was 15. I remember that was when i decided that I wanted to do what I do."
He said: "I'm back and hopefully imprinting myself on people's minds and hearts. That's my dream."
Smith's second album has drawn widespread acclaim since its release late last year and hit top spot in the New Zealand charts, a solid follow-up to his debut album In The Lonely Hour.
That one stayed in the New Zealand Top 40 chart for nearly three years, and the love affair is mutual.
"The happiest memories of my life I think have been in New Zealand. Going to Hobbiton was a gamechanger. It changed my life," the singer said.