Sarah Potenza came to national attention when she appeared on NBC's singing competition "The Voice" in 2015. But that was neither the beginning nor the end of her story. She's continued to expand her sound and grow her profile as a solo artist, and just released her next album Road to Rome. Potenza spoke to AXS about the record and everything she's learned over the last four years; learn more about her below and get her new record here.
AXS: How different has your life and career been since The Voice?
Sarah Potenza: When you come on something like "The Voice," it kind of shakes you. Not like shakes you in a bad way; it's just like your whole perspective of everything, the rug gets tugged out from under you. It's been an amazing couple of years; the fans have been incredible. I feel like I'm really caught up right now, which is rare. What I'm saying on the album and the way that I'm saying it is where I'm at emotionally and spiritually, and that doesn't happen often for us musicians because a lot of times what happens is, it does take so long to make the album and put to it out that the songs we put on it were things we wrote two or three years ago. These are all songs that I wrote within this year. It's incredible to be all caught up with everything.
AXS: Is there a particular song that best represents where you're at right now?
SP: The opener and the closer are my favorites on the album. The closer is the title track, and that song really answers your last question about my journey. So often on this journey, I've had my own ideas and voice, and I've not trusted that. Self-trust is such a hard thing to learn and "Road to Rome" is really about listening to that little voice inside of you that tells you what you really want and what the right thing to do is and what the right move is. That voice is always right and making decisions based on fear never works. Never. It always put you in a bad position, so "Road to Rome" is really kind of the setup and conclusion to the whole album.
AXS: The production of Road to Rome was unique as well. What was it like to make?
SP: This album was a blast to make. I made this with a woman named Jordan Brook Hamlin and it was the most life-changing experience for me, because when you work with a male producer, which is 98% of producers, and you tell [him] you want this to sound like Lauryn Hill, he will get you those exact drum sounds and those exact piano sounds and those exact guitar sounds. A woman will say to you, what is it about that Lauryn Hill song or album that you like? What is the emotional connection there that you want to bring to the table?
It was beyond fun to make this album with [Hamlin] because she protected me emotionally from my own doubt. She protected me from other people's influence when others thought they knew better than me about certain things on the album. She protected my instincts and she kind of shepherded me through the whole process and it made me feel safe...We had Megan Coleman on drums, Tonya Boyd Cannon [also from "The Voice"] sung all of the backup vocals on the entire album. We had the most fun in the studio. I can't even tell you.
AXS: Is there anything that you want listeners to take away from the album?
SP: I do want people to know that this album is really fun and really positive. I want it to inspire people, especially women and people who struggled, or were made fun of, or had low self-esteem. I struggled with self-esteem as a teenager and a person in my 20's, and it took me such a long time to get here where I am now. I'm 38 years old and I feel so confident and I want that for everybody because it feels so good and they deserve it. I want people to listen to this album and I want it to inspire them to do what they really want to do with their lives. I want to inspire them to tell the people around them that say they can't to just blow that off. They don't get it. They're not going to understand. They don't understand they're telling you that you can't because they're afraid to and that's okay. That's not for you to worry about. Just keep on walking. Keep on pushing. The best is yet to come.
AXS: As far as live performances go, you're part of the Melissa Etheridge Cruise which starts March 30. Why is that particularly important for you?
SP: Melissa is one of my idols. As a young girl playing guitar and singing, she was obviously like a go-to idol for me. I was sixteen years old when [Etheridge's album] Yes I Am came out. I listened to all her music, I read her autobiography, I cried when I saw her in concert when I was 16. I'm honored to be invited, to get to perform on her cruise, so really looking forward to that one.
For more on Sarah Potenza, including tickets to her upcoming concerts, visit her official website.