Country music recording artist and Broadway star Rachel Potter is not afraid to dream. With the release of her EP “Live the Dream” Potter is well on her way to making her own dreams a reality.
While introducing the world to her country roots is Potter’s next ambition, her fans know her best for her turns in hit Broadway shows as Wednesday Addams in THE ADDAMS FAMILY alongside Brooke Shields, the Mistress in the Tony-nominated revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s EVITA with Ricky Martin, and on the national tour of Stephen Schwartz’s WICKED as Glinda. But long before she was charming audiences eight times a week on the Great White Way with her affable humor and crystal clear chops, Rachel was already doing what she loves: singing.
A rock ‘n roll baby, Rachel was born in New Orleans to southern parents who connected over their mutual passion for song. Potter’s earliest memory of music was at age three, standing on the steps of her Baptist church next to best friend Jamey Ray singing in her hometown of Seminole, Florida. Exposed to music from day one Rachel remembers “My dad played guitar around the house and my mom would always sing harmony to oldies in the car.”
By the age of 12 Rachel’s music teachers began to notice her unusual gift. “Up until then I got lost in the crowd. I loved math and science and creative writing. No boys liked me. All of a sudden I had something kinda cool. I latched on to that and it felt so truly who I was,” Rachel remembers. That same year Potter began writing music and was soon noticed by a label executive. She was signed at 17 to contemporary Christian label Narrow Door Records. Though an opportunity she was certainly grateful for at the time, Rachel had no creative license on the “Come Back Home” record released in 2002.
A year later Rachel moved to Orlando, Florida. In 2004 a friend suggested she audition for an entertainment job at Walt Disney World. Having never been to a theatrical audition before, Rachel came prepared with a headshot (a picture of her singing into a microphone) and a resume with details of her tenure as an employee at the GAP. Though Rachel was not versed in theatre protocol, her talent got her the gig and she was cast as Ariel in the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. She subsequently went on to perform as Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Nemo in Finding Nemo: The Musical, and a slew of other shows at Disney. “I essentially consider that to be a lot of what my musical theatre training was. It was like musical theatre boot camp working at Disney. It was on-the-job training,” says Potter. While working at Disney she also completed a degree in public relations and advertising from the University of Central Florida in 2008. That same year she made it to the Top 15 in the MTV reality show Legally Blonde the Musical: The Search for Elle Woods.
After graduating from college she moved to New York where she got a gig singing in a wedding band. After auditioning for Broadway shows for over a year, she booked the WICKED national tour. While on the road Potter continued to write music and was surprised by how much she missed the experience of being part of a live band. While on tour she reconnected with Justin York, an old friend turned Nashville musician and producer known for his work with Nashville-bred rock band Paramore. York and Potter discussed collaborating on Rachel’s first country EP when the tour ended. Just as Rachel was making plans to move to Nashville, Broadway came knocking. She was offered the role of Wednesday Addams in THE ADDAMS FAMILY.
Rachel was ecstatic to fulfill her dream of Broadway but still couldn’t get past her vision of singing country tunes. As THE ADDAMS FAMILY came to a close Rachel raised funds through an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign to record her country dream project. The “Live the Dream” concept resonated with people from near and far who helped Potter to exceed the project’s original financial goal. “We were able to add a sixth song to the EP and that’s my favorite song on the record: ‘Hold On to Me,’” says Potter.
“Live the Dream” is a collection of six tunes co-written by Potter and York. While the set varies in musical style from country to pop-rock, Potter’s honest--sometimes aching--autobiographical stories can be found throughout. “Music [always] made me feel so much. Songs are what got me through [difficult times growing up]. That’s, in a nutshell, why I want to do what I want to do. I want to give people that music that touches them and heals them. It makes everybody feel like they’re not alone.”
Though making a leap from Broadway to country music may be risky, Potter is excited by the challenge. “There’s always risk involved. The biggest risks have the biggest rewards,” Potter says.
Rachel Potter can currently be seen eight times a week as the Mistress in EVITA on Broadway. “Live the Dream” was released May 2012 and is available on iTunes.