INTERVIEW: Adam Levine's protégé Rozzi Crane shares the secret to self-love
Last month, Rozzi Crane hit The Voice stage to belt out her debut single "Psycho," and brought the house down in front of mentor Adam Levine.
This feat is made all the more impressive by the fact that the pretty powerhouse was handpicked only four years ago by the Maroon 5 frontman to kick-start his 222 Records label.
It happened, as it were, at a Cinco de Mayo party.
Crane, then a student at University of California's Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles, was enjoying a little fiesta when she received an email from Levine to the effect of, "I don't have a label yet, but if you're down I'm down."
After making a friend verify she wasn't, in fact, seeing things, Crane put down her margarita and hoofed it back home to respond with an emphatic yes.
In the years since, Crane has gone from a featured artist for Maroon 5 to opening up for the mega-popular band on their North American tour this year. If you're thinking that sounds like a wild ride, well, you'd be right... sort of.
Although Crane admits her journey so far has been surreal, she isn't harboring any crazy tour stories or secret Levine quirks — admittedly, she may have missed their wilder years on the road.
"Now a lot of [the band members] are married and have kids, and they're just enjoying their life and each other and playing music. We definitely had fun, but it was more like, 'We're going to watch the Oscars and bet on who wins' kind of fun,'" Crane said, laughing.
Still, the last few years have been the ride of Crane's life.
In addition to Levine's tutelage, the soulful singer has loaned background vocals on tour with top talents like Sergio Mendes and Don Henley. She has penned songs with Phantom Planet (which largely led to her being discovered by Levine).
She has toured alongside pop icons such as Kelly Clarkson and Gavin DeGraw, and she has even collaborated with Levine on two tracks — one of which, "Come Away to the Water," found its way to The Hunger Games soundtrack and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200.
The future is bright for Crane, which she could have told you herself had you asked her 6-year-old self.
Then a precocious first grader, the aspiring singer decided music would be the measure of her life after taking on a Jewel song in her school's talent show. "I remember very vividly sitting down in the bleachers after I sang and having this full-body tingling sensation," she recalled. "I was like, 'Oh, OK. That's what I'm going to do forever.'"
From that point on, no one could have told her otherwise.
"Honestly, I was kind of a delusional little girl," she shared with a laugh. "In my head, I remember thinking I had it down. I thought I sounded like Christina, and I did not. I swear. I'm not being humble — I wasn't one of those little prodigy kids who was an amazing singer. I just thought I sounded great!"
Over time, though, Crane's talent did begin to emerge, and with it came recognition from fans other than her ever-supportive mom.
Today, at 23, she stands at the precipice of seeing her dream realized on the world stage. Her debut EP Space boasts four insanely solid tracks already getting rave reviews from industry insiders and listeners alike.
Perhaps they resonate so much with fans (especially women) for the brilliant way they flip the script on so many commonly held gender tropes. Crane's music is a study in empowerment.
"I wouldn't necessarily say I started writing the album with that in mind, but it definitely kind of ended up that way," she explained, "and I'm really into that. If I could have any part in making people — and girls in particular — feel really capable... that's how I want to feel, so I would love to be part of that for them."
After all, Crane knows all too well the struggles that come with adolescence.
"There is nothing harder than being a preteen or teen. That's just a crazy time in anyone's life! And I cannot imagine what it would be like now with social media — I can't imagine being on the phone that much in sixth or seventh grade the way we all are now... I can only imagine how intense and exhausting that must be," she said.
So what advice would she offer to help preteen and teen girls make it through those typically tough years relatively unscathed? Find something you have some skill at, and work like hell to develop it.
"There's nothing more worthwhile than finding your worth in something that you can do or contribute, rather than how you look or what you wear or how you act," she elaborated.
It's a great way, she says, to feel confidence when there are so many things coming at you every day that play on your insecurities. Once you find an outlet for self-expression, a decidedly crucial shift occurs.
Crane said, "Then they have all this self-love, despite just, like, all the shit of being a teenager, you know?"