INTERVIEW WITH ACTRESS / MUSICIAN RACHEL POTTER
Talent, heartbreak, hope, triumphs, and new beginnings: Rachel Potter isn’t just writing country songs, she’s living one. Stated’s Patrick Garrigan caught up with the songstress as she was wrapping up her run in the role of the Mistress in the Ricky Martin-headlined Broadway production of Evita. Relaxing between shows in the lobby of the Marquis Theater, she opened up to us about her early beginnings in recording, the pains that have informed her music and performing career, and the excitement of her new endeavor—taking Music City by storm.
Venturing into the world of music and performing can be a rough undertaking, but for Rachel, it was always in the plan. She cut her teeth at a young age, playing gigs and learning the ins and outs of creating original music. So valuable was this education, that by the young age of 16, she had released her first Christian album.
“It’s on iTunes. Don’t listen to it,” she quips.
While she may not be compelling fans to download her freshman album, it’s apparent from our chat that her early days proved valuable in learning the importance of collaboration and honest, constructive feedback.
“I’m really glad that I learned that lesson early on: that it’s okay to have an editor, and it’s ok for someone else tell you that something’s maybe not as good as in your mind that you think it is—because, ultimately, you’re creating a product, and two heads are usually better than one.”
From community concerts to the Marquis Theater, live music informed Rachel’s performing career as well. She’s been attached to some of Broadway’s biggest blockbusters including Wicked, The Addams Family, and most recently, Evita. When reflecting on the steps that brought her to this point in her career, Rachel stops for a moment. “Nothing started happening for me until I stopped trying to be like anyone else,” she reflects. “At the end of the day, people are attracted to people that don’t need them.” It it’s clear this confidence is something that’s helped shape the trajectory of her work.
Despite these multiple turns on Broadway, in the end, it’s always been about the music. “Not that I don’t love to do musical theater, but it’s just, I think that country music and singing with a band has always been such a passion for me.”
As conversation naturally shifts to her latest venture, her new EP, “Live the Dream,” Rachel becomes visibly excited to discuss some of the album’s tracks.
“Life happens, this is what came out of it: ‘Live the Dream’ is hopeful, ‘Lovestruck’ is butterflies, ‘Just a Show’ is heartbreak, ‘Never You Mind’ is even more heartbreak. Then ‘September Song’ is about my dad… And then, ‘Hold on to Me’ is strength.”
With this, conversation turns a bit more serious, and we’re given a glimpse into the background of the track, “September Song.” Speaking openly, she talks about her relationship with her father and how his struggle balancing a love of music with family and personal demons informed her worldview, and the work she wants to create.
“That kind of tragic story has been my ultimate drive and motivation to say, ‘You only have one life.’ If I know right now I want to go after country music, I’m not going to sidebar it until I’m 40 or 50 years old and go, ‘Oh, I really wish that I’d done that.’ I don’t want to live with regret.”
Not wanting to waste valuable time, Rachel took to Kickstarter to leverage the support of her fans to bring new her music to life. “I went online and did a plea video and asked for $10,000. On New Year’s Eve we hit $20,000—the night that Addams Family closed.” When the money raised surpassed the goal, that’s when the fun began. “My promise was that we would do a music video if we got extra money.”
And complete with celebrity cameos, she did just that.
|(Live the Dream video featuring cameos by Ricky Martin, Constantine Maroulis, Orfeh, Michael Cerveris, Max Von Essen, Marty Thomas, The Vanity Belles, and Evita castmates)|
Not long after the video was released, Rachel landed another big surprise when it was featured online at CMT.com. “Oh God, it has been surreal. It’s surreal to see my video and the word CMT in the corner! I don’t think it’s sunk in yet, but it’s really, really cool.” Since first appearing online it has gone on to garner over 75,000 views on YouTube.
When Evita closed in early January, Potter’s next steps seemed self-evident: make that move to continue making albums. “After five years of living in New York, to take the time to pack up my apartment and not rush it. My lease is up, and I just signed a new lease in Nashville.”
As for what’s next, it’s right back into the studio. “We’ve written so many new songs this year. I’m so ready and excited to make a new record!”
‘Cause just like any good country song, life’s all about embracing the next chapter.
We asked Rachel to humor us with a quick set of free-association “lighting round” questions. Confirming she’s a woman who knows what she wants, she answered our deeply serious questions with little hesitation.
Ben & Jerry’s or Pinkberry?
Little Bit Country or Little Bit Rock & Roll?
Little bit country.
Mandy Patinkin or Ricky Martin?
Sunsets or sunrises?
Favorite vacation spot?
Somewhere I haven’t been yet.
If you were a pie, what kind of pie would you be?
Hunger Games or Twilight?
Cheese or cheesecake?
East Coast or West Coast?
Wild night out or calm night in?
Depends on who I’m with…
City or farm?
Super Bowl or super bowl of nachos?
Super bowl of nachos…
Favorite female role model?
Umm…somebody awesome, let me think… Sheryl Crow.
Finish this sentence with one word. “Life is a…”
Bowl of cherries.
Family Guy or Modern Family?
What’d you eat for breakfast?
Elvis or Johnny Cash?
Yes or no: you currently have Bieber Fever?
Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?
I wish that she was in an app on my iPhone. Because I would play that all the time.