Danielle Bradbery has left her teen years behind her — and the proof is in her music.
With a second album about to hit shelves and a new video for “Potential” out Friday, the Voice winner is ready to reflect on the journey to her new sound and her transition from adolescent to adult.
“There’s more for me to say and be than just the winner of The Voice,” she explained. “[When I won The Voice], I didn’t know myself just yet and I wanted to figure that out… There’s so much more to Danielle Bradbery and I had to grow up.”
One way Bradbery, 21, learned to grow with her music was to pick up songwriting. And while the artist is admittedly new to the skill, she’s no longer a stranger to its immeasurable impact of connecting singer to song.
“These past couple of years, I’ve gone into songwriting for the first time,” Bradbery told PEOPLE. “It opened up so many doors for me as I was trying to shape my artistry and who I am as an artist.
“If you’re not a songwriter on it personally, it felt like I was just that outer shell of the song,” she continued. “I wasn’t one with the song and I finally feel like I am. Writing really helped me figure out what the sound was going to be for my record.”
And her fans are taking notice. Despite having been off the radio and concert circuit for quite some time, Bradbery is ecstatic to find that her faithful fans have stuck around and are as excited about her new music as she is.
“Honestly, sometimes I have to pinch myself,” she squealed. “It’s been a total of five years since The Voice and four since that first record. There was a time where I wasn’t doing many shows or anything except staying in Nashville and writing a bunch.
“It’s been really exciting to be face-to-face with my fans and radio and everybody again to reintroduce myself. There’s a whole new side of me I want to share, and everybody has been so open-armed.”
In the video for “Potential,” debuting exclusively on PEOPLE, Bradbery shares a more emotional and somber side that she believes many of her fans have never seen from her. Set fireside in a luxurious home, the video is simple and sophisticated — the exact feeling Bradbery hopes to convey through her new ballad.
“When I wrote it, the other girl in the writing room threw out the idea that ‘I’m not in love with you, but with your potential,’” Bradbery revealed. “Our jaws dropped to the floor. It’s a beautiful but sad meaning people can relate to immediately… So we kept it as simple as possible and reflective.”
And as Bradbery prepares for a whirlwind of appearances and shows to celebrate the new album, she can’t help but think of Las Vegas, the scene of the deadliest shooting in modern history during the Jason Aldean set at Route 91 Harvest Festival. She hopes that in the midst of this unthinkable tragedy, her music, and the music of her fellow country artists, can begin to bring some hope and restoration to a community that is hurting and afraid.
“Being a country show, those fans and who was performing — they’re family,” Bradbery said. “Country music is family. Those same fans go to all the concerts. It’s so heartbreaking and all I can do is pray for the families and be there.
“We all love the fans and everybody so much, and we try to do as much as we can to help, no matter what it is. We’re all thinking about it constantly and trying to be an outlet for healing.”
Bradbery’s new album, I Don’t Believe We’ve Met, is due out Dec. 1.