Exclusive: Watch teaser trailer for Sara Bareilles' new TV drama Little Voice
Sara Bareilles has made her mark as a singer-songwriter and a Broadway composer, but now she's taking a stab at television.
Little Voice, which hits AppleTV+ on July 10, was the brainchild of Bareilles, her Waitress book writer Jessie Nelson, and executive producer J.J. Abrams. The series follows Bess (Brittany O'Grady) as she struggles to make her dreams of becoming a music artist come true, while also navigating romance, family challenges, and more. Bareilles also wrote original music for the series.
Below, EW exclusively debuts the teaser trailer for the show, which features Bareilles playing and singing the title song, intercut with footage of heroine Bess and her journey on the series. Bareilles tells EW the song was filmed on their last day on set. "We knew that the location was gonna get torn down and so we wanted to sort of commemorate the finish line with me singing the theme song on stage there," she explains. "It wasn't even initially intended to be woven together with the trailer; that was an organic unfolding."
Ultimately, Bareilles says the promo was inspired by a 2016 Tony Awards performance she did for Waitress, where she kicked off a rendition of the ballad "She Used to Be Mine" before handing the song off to the show's star Jessie Mueller. "In a way, we were thematically touching on that," she reflects, "Where it's like as the creator and the initial voice for these songs, there is a nice passing of the baton to the cast., wanting to point the focus to the beauty and the imagery of this show and the storytelling."
The singer-songwriter is coy about whether that same ethos might translate to a cameo on the show. "Maybe," she teases. "I was on set every day anyway so..."
Though Bareilles stresses that Little Voice is not her story, the show is inspired by her own struggles as an artist in her early twenties. The series even shares its name with her breakout 2007 album, which she says she balked at initially. "I didn't want to confuse the audience that this was my story, or that these were songs from that record being given a new life," she explains. "But then it ultimately just felt like it was the title. It just was the story of this person coming into this phase in her life. Listening to your intuition and learning to trust that little voice inside of you, continues to be one of the hardest things to commit to and to make a strong practice in your life. It remains a really important message."
Bareilles never set out to make a TV show, and it wasn't a major career goal of hers. After seeing Waitress, Abrams asked to meet her and the idea took root from there. "Theater felt like a more natural progression to me because I grew up in musical theater, being a big musical theater fan, but TV always felt like it was this big other entity that I didn't really have a relationship with," she notes.
They eventually found their way toward a coming-of-age drama about a singer-songwriter. "It's her being a songwriter and learning to find her own authentic voice as a person, a woman, and as a writer," Bareilles explains. "[In your] early twenties you're being told by the world that you're an adult, but you're trying to find steady ground and find your footing in all these different ways. It's such a fertile time for so many big life lessons. Especially as a songwriter, how you metabolize the world is through your songs, and so, it felt like a really important time to talk about someone's coming of age."
One of the major differences between Bareilles' personal journey and the series is the setting. She began her career in Los Angeles, while still in college at UCLA, but Bess lives and works in New York City and the storytelling is enmeshed in that world complete with brushes with Broadway, subway rides, and busking in the park. "It actually was helpful for the writing for us to get even further away from my life," Bareilles notes. "It just freed up any attachment to what actually had happened and we got to free up the imagination to create."
Now, the show is debuting in the middle of a global pandemic that has seen many of New York City's most familiar spaces, including Broadway theaters and crowded parks, go quiet in response to safety measures. Bareilles says it's made the show feel oddly bittersweet. "To watch this show come out that's nostalgic for something that is not available at the moment is a really interesting lens," she reflects. " There's so much celebration of the majesty and the beauty and the magic of this place. I'm really excited that we're getting to shine a light on that right now."