Photo Credit: Matt Berinato
Written By Kelly Holm
For fans of NBC’s Songland Sam DeRosa’s name is a familiar one. Although her original track “Pill for This” wasn’t picked by Charlie Puth last Fall, it won the heart of producer Shane McAnally, who soon signed DeRosa to his label, Monument Records. Now, “Pill for This” is just one of several tracks on DeRosa’s upcoming EP.
“I truly thought that song was going to be given to somebody else,” DeRosa says of its release. “The day we wrote it we pitched it like crazy. Nobody bit. Then ‘Songland happened… it’s the first [song] I’ve ever had people singing it back or getting emotional over it. Can’t even begin to explain how cool that feels.”
The New Yorker has written songs since childhood, often with the intentions of pitching them to other artists, but kept them to herself until she was 15. While the pre-teen DeRosa was performing covers like Disney’s “Part of Your World” at local talent competitions, she secretly had a notebook of originals which she dreamed of singing alongside some of the biggest names.
“I wrote a duet [for] Christina Aguilera when I was nine about knowing your worth,” she says with a laugh. “I was a strange kid, but always knew that this is what I wanted… I’ve waited every table and played gigs for $50. There were moments when I wanted to quit, but something in my soul never let me.”
Several years later, after relocating to Los Angeles, DeRosa finally did pitch a hit single to an outside artist. Perhaps you’ve heard of “Broken” by lovelytheband? From there, the road to Songland was paved.
“Songland has made such an impact,” DeRosa says of the show’s effect on her burgeoning career. “I’ve learned to respect the process, go easy on myself, but always remind myself that I’ve got something worth saying and worth fighting for… they didn’t air it, but [Ryan Tedder] said ‘You have an incredible talent. I bet my entire career that you’ll have a record deal within two years and if you don’t, I’m taking a break to produce your album.’ I cried.”
Tedder was ultimately proven right, perhaps much sooner than he could’ve imagined. As the one-year anniversary of DeRosa’s appearance on the show approaches, her EP is scheduled to drop in the coming months.
“The EP is based around a heartbreak: the before, the during and the after. It’s about healing yourself and accepting what can’t ever truly be healed after a love is lost,” she said. “I wrote these songs between 2018 [and] 2019. Never in a million years did I think I’d be releasing these songs on a major label, so I’m excited.”
“Pill for This,” DeRosa says, fits in the middle of the EP’s story arc, which she describes as being heavy with emotion.
“[Fans] can feel safe when they push play, in knowing that I’ve got their back on what they’re going through because I’ve been there too,” she states.
She advises fellow dream-seekers to take it slow and seek out honesty in what often feels like a very artificial industry.
“At times, the music business can feel like… the jocks and cheerleaders who don’t want new friends. It’s tough to know how to break in, how to fit in, or if you’re around people who vibe with you and are genuine,” DeRosa says. “Take time to really write your heart out and figure out your strengths, but… the hustle is something that can’t really be taught. The fire’s got to be lit from the beginning of your journey, you won’t find it along the way.”
And with all the milestones she’s hit on her bucket list so far, DeRosa’s fire shows no signs of burning out. With the foundation Songland has laid, perhaps she will someday soon be collaborating with longtime influences like Paul McCartney, Alanis Morissette and of course, Christina Aguilera. After that, it’ll be on to the Grammys and multi platinum-level fame. But for now, she’s perpetually tuned in for her next big break.
“My songwriting brain is just always on,” she assures.
Watch the official video for “Pill for This”
Follow Sam DeRosa