**This episode contains explicit language.**
As artists, we’re naturally sensitive people and can be easily influenced by the people around us. We can take their criticisms to heart and assume we can go no further than they believe is possible. But we can. Sarah Potenza is living proof.
Sarah is a singer/songwriter out of Nashville who has a bold personality and a larger than life voice. Rolling Stone remarked that she is to blues what Adele is to pop.
You may have seen her live at iconic venues such as the Blue Bird Café and the Grand Old Opry, or on the eighth season of The Voice, where she got a four-chair turn and performed for over 12 million people.
In this episode, Sarah discusses the bullies and naysayers who tried to silence her, how she overcome their shaming and developed confidence in her talent and her body, and what she learned and gained from her experience on The Voice. She also shares a little about her new album Road to Rome, and what inspired her powerful track “I Work for Me.”
1:50 What helped Sarah free her spirit so she could make the music she wanted to make, which ultimately boosted her self-esteem and helped her embrace her body and personality
7:02 Sarah discusses the origins of her empowering song “I Work for Me” and what inspired it—the bullies and naysayers who put her down as a musician and shamed her for her appearance.
13:34 Sarah shares her experience battling on The Voice and why her scars are powerful.
16:38 How confidence can intimidate people who don’t love themselves, and why; and how women often undervalue themselves and think they don’t deserve as much as men
23:49 Sarah talks about the importance of genuine inspiration when writing powerful, authentic songs; how songs start for her; and why she’s learned to not be attached to lyrics writing.
31:19 How Bethenny Frankel (of The Real Housewives) influenced Sarah’s song “The Road to Rome” and why there are no mistakes
35:44 What causes Sarah self-doubt, in spite of her hard-earned confidence
42:13 Sarah details her favorite pre-performance routine.
45:50 Sarah explores the struggles of working with her husband on her latest album.
54:55 Sarah talks about her experience on The Voice—the friendships she made, what she learned, why fear led her to choose Blake Shelton as her mentor, and who she actually wanted to choose.
1:02:15 How The Voice has opened doors for her Sarah
1:04:28 The advice Sarah would offer to anyone who wants to be a songwriter or musician
1:06:48 Sarah’s highly shareable
1:07:50 The lightning round! The questions aired in this episode:
- What’s the most important part of your creative routine?
- How do you think you differ from other creative people in your genre?
- How do you think one can expand one’s creative mind and abilities?
- How do you know when an idea is the right idea?
- What is something you do to get into a creative zone?
- When I’m feeling unmotivated, it helps me to _______?
- What do you do when you feel creatively blocked?
- Has anyone ever given you any words of inspiration that you’d like to pass along to others?
Sarah Potenza Quotes Worth Remembering
“I remember being told not to take $10,000 and make an album, but to invest in a house or car or to go to college, even though I didn’t want to go to college. I remember being told ‘Oh, so you think you’re just gonna move to Chicago and have a career as a singer? So you’re the one—you’re gonna make it?’ And all those feelings kind of weighed upon me and lurked there in the back of my mind for a really long time. And I finally had this revelation that none of those things are about me. They’re all about the other person, the person that’s saying them, and their own personal struggle with their fear of failure and their fear of success.”
“And so all I have to do is just be myself and show people my scars, and show people my life and the truth and the things that have hurt me and the things that haunt me and the things that still bother me and the things that I’ve gotten over, because everyone has those moments in their lives. And when you’re performing and somebody recognizes what you’re saying and they think ‘Oh my god, how did she know that I felt that way? How does this resonate with me so much?” At the same time that they’re feeling understood, they’re understanding me, which is why they feel understood, and so I feel understood. And that magic is something that is more powerful than anything out there.”
“I think that confidence scares people who don’t love themselves… If you don’t love yourself you’re always going to feel jealous and weird about what other people have. And now that I’ve finally come to truly love myself I feel like I just can’t be shaken.”
“It wouldn’t matter if I’m rapping, it doesn’t matter if I’m singing a country song, it doesn’t matter if I’m in a musical, without the key ingredient of the muse—and not a specific muse, it could be any muse, whatever is inspiring me at the time—if I do not respect that and I don’t follow that, there’s nothing. I just don’t do good work.”
“We get into these things in our heads where we’re like, oh I have to know everything, I’m making mistakes, I’m wasting time, I’m falling behind. And all that stuff leads to this toxic buildup of more wasted time and more delays and more self-doubt.”
“I hope I always stay hungry and I always stay thirsty. Because I love being creative, and I think there’s a lot of drive that comes from that.”
“Performance for me is so much love but also so much anger. There’s so much passion on the stage in everything I’m doing that it just gets all of that out of my system. I scream it out, I sweat it out, I cry it out, I sing it out, I shout it out. It’s all out there whether it’s the love, the joy, the hate, the anger, the peace, the sorrow, everything. And I just throw it up all over everything, and I feel sated.”
“Decisions based on fear are always the wrong decision, so I decided to never make a decision based on fear again.”
“When I’m feeling unmotivated, that’s fine as long as when I’m feeling motivated I work and I empty that out until I feel unmotivated again. It’s not about forcing yourself to be motivated. When I’m feeling unmotivated it’s like if my cell phone is on low I got to put it on the charger and just leave it on there, so that’s what I gotta do sometimes.
Quotes Sarah Mentions in the Episode
“Your scars are more powerful than the swords that have caused them.” ~Passage from unidentified book
Mentioned in This Episode
- The Rock Boat
- Sixth Man Sessions at Sea
- Justin Wiseman
- Tess Holliday
- The Voice 2015
- “I Work for Me” (song)
- Bethenny Frankel
- Melissa Etheridge
- Lady Gaga
- Nels Cline
- Bill Frisell
- Father John Misty
- Elliot Smith
- Tanya Boyd Cannon
- Blake Shelton
- Adam Levine
- Four Chair Turn
- Sarahs’s Kickstarter
- Shrill (book)
- Shrill (show on Hulu—Sarah’s shareworthy)