Sounds Like: A Janis Joplin-Aretha Franklin hybrid with a mic … but a Lucinda Williams-Bonnie Raitt hybrid with a pen
For Fans of: Alabama Shakes, B.B. King, Mavis Staples
Why You Should Pay Attention: After Potenza's spellbinding blind audition yielded a four-chair turn on NBC's The Voice, a visibly moved Pharrell Williams told her she was "giving this generation something they've never seen before." Potenza is to the blues what Adele is to pop: a colossal-voiced singer who merges her old-school influences with a modernistic sound. Her new album, Monster, solidifies endless Janis Joplin vocal comparisons but also colors between the lines of Memphis blues, Nashville Americana, New Orleans funk and L.A. punk. Its lyrics are personal and personally therapeutic, as she empowers herself through tunes denouncing industry naysayers and embracing her fuller-figured, boisterous self.
She Says: "It's hard for a size 16, 36-year-old woman," says Potenza of catching a break in the music industry. But she's come to realize those numbers actually work in her favor. "I've never opened a door with my looks. Because I've always relied on my personality and my talent, I've really flourished and feel strong and confident. I don't know how to get someone to buy me a drink in a bar, but I'll sing you a song!"