LOS ANGELES - Fresh-faced British singer Sam Smith stands to make history Sunday at the Grammys with a chance to sweep all top categories, but he faces stiff competition from Beyonce and Pharrell Williams.

A bartender until a few years ago, the 22-year-old Smith has enjoyed a phenomenal rise as ‘Stay With Me’ - a ballad about a one-night stand marked by his rich, soulful tenor voice - became a breakaway hit. Smith is up Sunday for Grammys in the four most closely watched categories - Album of the Year; Record of the Year, which honors the top tune; Song of the Year, which recognizes the composer; and Best New Artist.

Only one artist has previously won all four categories at once - Christopher Cross, whose 1981 triumph heralded a decade of soft rock as he controversially beat out Pink Floyd’s now-classic ‘The Wall.’ Smith is tied for the most Grammy nominations on Sunday at six - the same number as Beyonce and Williams.

Beyonce has already won 17 Grammys but never the most prestigious Album of the Year. The 33-year-old singer offered some of her most personal work on her latest, self-titled album, which she recorded in secret and released with no previous publicity in December 2013. The former teen star with R&B band Destiny’s Child notably explores sexuality on ‘Beyonce,’ which includes the ode to marital bliss ‘Drunk in Love’ sung with her husband Jay-Z.

A Grammy victory for Williams would serve as vindication for the 41-year-old producer who achieved success in his own right with the globally viral song of optimism, ‘Happy.’

Williams last year enjoyed Grammy nominations for his work both on Robin Thicke’s lustful ‘Blurred Lines’ and with the French electronic duo Daft Punk, who were 2014’s big winners. A dark horse for Album of the Year is ‘Morning Phase’ by Beck.

, if not the mainstream appeal usually recognized by the Grammys.

Also up for Album of the Year is ‘X’ by Ed Sheeran - like Smith, a British singer and relative newcomer - who previously worked with pop giants such as Taylor Swift and boy band One Direction. Smith’s star soared amid intense promotion by US label Capitol Records, whose chief executive Steve Barnett earlier bet big on another soul-infused British singer, Adele. ‘In The Lonely Hour,’ Smith’s debut, was the third top-selling album in the United States in 2014. The only albums to surpass it were Swift’s ‘1989’ - released too late for Grammy eligibility - and the soundtrack to the Disney movie ‘Frozen.’

Smith has built a fan base with his prolific use of social media and impeccably polite manners. He has drawn a fine line by acknowledging his sexual orientation while striving not to be pigeon-holed as a gay singer. But in a pre-Grammy interview with Rolling Stone, the rising superstar vowed never to perform in Russia due to its ‘disgusting’ treatment of gays - a reference to a 2013 law that outlaws gay ‘propaganda.’ ‘No matter how many billions of pounds you could offer me, I just couldn’t, which is sad because I have Russian fans,’ he said.