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Song You Need to Know: Sarah Potenza, ‘I Work for Me’

Bursting with confidence, soulful track highlights the swagger of Nashville vocalist

Sarah Potenza

Sarah Potenza's "I Work for Me" celebrates personal independence and ambition.

Jeremy Ryan

Sarah Potenza’s songs may be universal anthems written with inclusivity in mind, but on the lead track off her upcoming album Road to Rome, she puts the spotlight squarely on herself. “I Work for Me” is a vibrant and danceable soul song brimming with confidence and boasting production that calls to mind the Mark Ronson vibe of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black.

“They told me I was nothing/They told me I was trash/They told me I was too young/To ever make it last,” Potenza sings, laying out all the roadblocks and doubt placed in her way by the smaller-minded. But as she proudly lets them know, she owns her shit: “When the bills roll in, I T-C-B/I got everything ’cause I work for me.”

As a contestant on the eighth season of The Voice in 2015, Potenza turned heads with her larger-than-life voice, which, while at the forefront of “I Work for Me,” shares space with an equally outsized attitude.

“It’s important for the music to reflect the intent and attitude of the message, right down to the rhythm of the lyrics. My swag and attitude are the hook, and the music has to be a part of that game,” says Potenza, whose game is elevated by the background vocal stylings of powerhouse Tonya Boyd-Cannon. “I don’t like subtle,” she adds. “It’s not what I am drawn towards.”

The first song that Potenza wrote for Road to Rome, with Justin Wiseman, “I Work for Me” takes its inspiration, at least in part, from a scene in Pretty Woman. “That one where Julia Roberts goes back to the store and says, ‘Do you work on commission? Big mistake,'” recalls Potenza. “That feeling, that attitude, is what shaped the rest of the musical choices.”

Road to Rome, produced by Jordan Brooke Hamlin, arrives March 8th.

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