Singer-songwriter Nikole Potulsky says her two kids (8-year-old Violet and 10-year-old Oskar) are a constant source of inspiration — and often when she least expects it. On the heels of her debut album, You Want to Know About Me, the country and blues musician recalls a life-changing conversation she had with her son. After a particularly long and exhausting day, Oskar asked his single mom if she had always known she wanted to be a singer.
“I was frozen in place and didn’t know how to answer,” says Potulsky, who at the time was working a regular job and only singing as a hobby. She answered him honestly and told him, “Yes,” to which he replied, “You must be so proud of yourself — all of your dreams came true!”
Potulsky admits she was “flooded with heartbreak, and maybe even shame. I was faced with the reality that not only had all of my dreams not come true, I never gave my dream a chance.”
“Before I was a parent, I had plans to record an album,” explains Potulsky. But when life’s circumstances kept interfering with the making of it, she says she eventually gave up and “decided that music was an unreasonable dream. I got a steady job and tried to move on.”
But after her epiphany-inducing conversation with Oskar, Potulsky says she made the decision to revive her dream. “This time, I decided that — reasonable or not — the most important thing I had to do was show my kids that they come from people who don’t give up.”
Potulsky’s decision to follow her dreams continues to prove itself fateful. Just days after we spoke to her, Potulsky signed with legendary manager, Chevy Nash, who has worked with Dolly Parton and currently manages jazz-gospel singer Oleta Adams, and out country star Shane McAnally.
Potulsky, who says she “grew up in small towns, at the kitchen tables of working women” who taught her to read cards, listen for deeper meaning, make her own money, “and never back down,” chronicles the lives of these same women (from grandmothers to outlaws) in her new album, connecting their stories of rebellion and resistance to her own life as an LGBT justice organizer.
You Want to Know About Me, which is available on iTunes and Amazon Music, effortlessly shifts from haunting bluesy tracks like, “Maudie’s Lament,” to upbeat, danceable country ditties like “My Hometown.”
“This is an album about power,” she told Lesbians on the Loose. “How we find it, how we lose it, how we give it away, and what we must do to get it back.” That’s an enduring lesson, and one that’s particularly timely in today’s political climate. And for Potulsky, who’s played everywhere from Siren Nation to an honest-to-goodness “honky-tonk bar behind chicken wire,” it’s about regaining the power to show your kids how to make your own dreams come true. (@PotulskyNikole)