Rebecca Loebe has always had a “circus heart.” The indie-folk singer-songwriter describes this particular outlook as fearlessness in embracing life’s excitements while occupying one’s true space in the world without shame.
As a girl growing up in Arlington, her penchant for roaming the sidewalks around her little Sears kit house belting Disney ballads was a sign of that joyful disposition. More recently, her spirit shows when she plays scores of gigs a year across the nation and records and releases her original work independently.
Loebe had been making her living as a self-supported artist for four years before a TV talent competition would give her the exposure that no amount of touring ever could. When she auditioned in spring 2011 for the first season of “The Voice,” she was living out of an old station wagon. Her pace of touring and meager wages made her effectively homeless.
“It has a CD player and a tape player, so don’t be jealous,” she said with a broad grin in the confessional that aired with her TV debut. She sang Nirvana’s “Come as You Are” as an impassioned ballad; celebrity judges Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera took notice and offered praise and mentorship.
“Being on the show was just an incredible moment of exposure for all of that work I had done in the past four years, grinding it out on the road by myself,” Loebe said. “Suddenly in the span of six minutes, I was given the chance to perform for 12 million people in one shot.”
Loebe’s run on “The Voice” was short. By the time the episode aired, she had already been eliminated from the contest. New fans rooting in her corner would soon learn of her fate, so she knew she had to make the new-found attention count.
“It was a full-time job for a week after the show aired, and I spent 12 hours a day just sitting in an armchair at my dad’s house trying to personally respond to every single message, email, contact I got from people all over the country,” Loebe said. “I wanted to write back to every single person individually to thank them and introduce them to my music.”
The fan base may have changed because of the international exposure, but the work didn’t. She was back in her car and back on the road soon after competing on the show, and resumed her grueling pace right where she left off.
She later recorded and released Circus Heart, the third full-length album she’s put out on her own and her first since “The Voice.”
On the buoyant beach-pop title track, Loebe playfully delivers the line: “All the women I’m afraid of are counting grays, like seconds ’til the New Year of their glory days, carefully concealing their busted parts, trying to keep their eyes off of my Circus Heart.”
It’s vulnerable and difficult, she says, distilling one’s thoughts, feelings, and craft into the notes and words of an album. But she is proud that she was able to tap into the parts of her personality that fear kept her from previously. The new album is bolder instrumentally than her earlier releases, she said, but still has her signature intimacy through narrative-driven lyrics.
She’s promoting the album with dates throughout the fall, certain that at least a few audience members at every show will be there thanks to “The Voice.” She’s also uploading live recordings to her website monthly so that fans can get the full Rebecca Loebe experience, even if she doesn’t make it to their town.
In so many ways, the world is getting more of her circus heart, and Rebecca Loebe is glad for it.
• Rebecca Loebe will perform Sunday at Iota Club and Cafe. For more information about Loebe, visit rebeccaloebe.com.