Potenza brings home the blues

Potenza brings home the blues

WOONSOCKET – When she’s in Rhode Island next week, singer Sarah Potenza has one request: “Somebody better bring me some Del’s lemonade.”

The Smithfield native and former contestant on NBC’s singing competition show “The Voice” says she’s happy to return to her home state to perform two shows at Chan’s on Saturday, June 15. Potenza will be promoting her latest album “Road to Rome,” which she describes as “a record of self-empowered R&B, swaggering soul, and contemporary blues.”

“I’m super excited. I love performing in Rhode Island,” Potenza told The Valley Breeze. “There’s no other audience like a Rhode Island audience. They’re so zesty.”

Shows start at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Kaitlyn Tarro, a 2016 graduate of Smithfield High School and the 2019 winner of Wakefield Idol, will be the opening act.

“She’s a total powerhouse,” Potenza said, adding that the two became friends when she paid SHS a visit a couple of years ago. “I invited her to come open … I try to support other women and anybody from Rhode Island. It’s family.”

Justin Wiseman, who co-wrote songs with Potenza, will be traveling from Austin to play piano. Potenza’s husband Ian Crossman, a Smithfield native, will also perform with her.

While Potenza normally plays one show, she said it’s always sold out in the past, so she added a second performance this year.

“Chan’s is one of my favorite places. I’ve been playing there for a while,” she said. “I love the atmosphere.”

The Nashville resident auditioned for “The Voice” and made it onto the show’s eighth season in 2015. She advanced three rounds, making it to the top 20, but was eliminated while competing for a spot in the top 12.

Since the show, Potenza has released two solo albums: “Monster” in 2016 and “Road to Rome” on March 8, International Women’s Day.

She’s also released albums as front-woman of Sarah and the Tall Boys.

Co-written by Potenza and produced by Jordan Brooke Hamlin, “Road to Rome” features 10 tracks, including “Earthquake,” “Diamond,” and “I Work for Me.”

“It’s been really, really, really awesome,” she said. “I feel like I hit this one out of the park. I don’t always feel that way.”

Potenza credits “The Voice” with being able to reach new fans, travel all over the world, perform music, and raise money to make the art that she wants to make, she said. Her “whole life changed so fast,” she added.

“This year and album in particular, I’m really coming into my own,” she said. “It’s a really special time for me.”

She said she’s loosened up since her days on “The Voice” and is more fun in her music and clothing. Her style has evolved away from just Americana to “sugar pop blues,” she said.

While she’s been touring and promoting the album, she said she’s also working on a couple of new singles, as well as creating a pop-up show to sell merchandise at her shows featuring plus-sized clothing, and jewelry.

Potenza, a 1998 graduate of Smithfield High School, was inducted into the school’s Music Legion of Honor on May 21 and performed at the music department’s spring concert along with the band and chorus ensembles. Her former music teacher Robert Cleasby was in attendance.

“It was a really spiritual and special moment for me to be in that auditorium with him,” she said. “It was definitely a hallmark moment of my life.”

Though Nashville has been good to the singer, she said she definitely misses Rhode Island. She’s planning to visit family this summer and will perform at the Rhythm & Roots festival Labor Day weekend in Charlestown.

Chan’s is located at 267 Main St. in Woonsocket. Tickets cost $20 for the 8 p.m. show, $15 for the 10 p.m. show and $25 for both shows. To purchase tickets online, visit www.chanseggrollsandjazz.com/calendar.htm .

For more information about Potenza, visit www.sarahpotenza.net .

Sarah Potenza, center, with Robert Cleasby, her former music teacher, and the Smithfield High School chorus on May 21. Potenza, a 1998 graduate of SHS, was inducted into the school’s Music Legion of Honor and performed at the music department’s spring concert.