The name Sabrina Carpenter isn’t one you know by accident. She’s not a success story of happenstantial fame or an anecdote of viral stardom. Her 28 million Instagram followers don’t flock to her page just to witness her beauty (granted, that would be enough) but to catch a glimpse of a radiant popstar, raw with emotion and eager in her craft, composing a world where authenticity overrides fear of vulnerability. Where, with one voice, millions feel heard.
Before the labels “singer,” “actor,” or “Disney-hailing-child-star,” the girl behind the curtain bangs is one who loves to sing. As a child, she’d parade around her small-town Pennsylvania diner singing to tables, basking in the local spotlight. In school, she never missed a talent show. “I was constantly singing and writing songs,” the artist remembers. “I loved the feeling of connecting with people and making them happy.” And while Carpenter’s story wouldn’t be complete without her ultimate rise to fame on Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World, the 23-year-old isn’t here to relive the days of her childhood shows or sitcom-starring teens. Instead, she looks to the future, entrusting her fans with her most recent confessional, Emails I Can’t Send.
“It felt like a first album for me in a lot of ways,” Carpenter says of the intimate tracklist, despite four records that precede it. “A lot of it came from a really painful point in my life. It was a challenge to push myself throughout the process.” But push herself she did, layering diary-spilled harmonies atop live instrumentation in one ample step toward musical autonomy. For someone who admits to nerves at the post of an Instagram picture, growing out of her adolescent image was one thing. Chronicling its accompanying thoughts to the world was another.
It wasn’t just that sharing was difficult—if anything, performing was the easy part. From the start, the album’s title track was the hardest song she had ever recorded, the intensity of its subject matter—strained relationships with family—demanding nothing less than vocal perfection. In the end, she could hardly look at it, leaving demo vocals on the final track.
It wasn’t long before Carpenter realized she wasn’t alone. Drawn to her heartfelt ballads and cheeky wit, fans sold out her headline tour in less than 24 hours. “It feels triumphant,” the singer laughs, “there were moments I felt so isolated, and those are the moments people pick out and scream at the top of their lungs on tour.” In hindsight, pain is the last word in mind when Carpenter thinks of her most recent album. With an authenticity that’s unmatched in the age of social media, she’s opened her heart and reminded us all—she may be a popstar, but she’s human first.
Emails I Can’t Send is now available on all streaming platforms.