Now, after two albums that drew in tweens and teens, Carpenter is at a crossroads: With her dead-on pop instincts, frank social media presence and devoted young audience (14.7 million Instagram followers), she’s poised to recruit more adult fans and become the biggest singer to emerge from her Disney generation.
“Since I was a kid, I’ve loved doing 10 things at once. I’m constantly moving,” says Carpenter, who’s zooming around New York as we speak. (She’s on a fan-event tour; Miami’s next.) Before year’s end, she’ll release her third album, Singular, and appear alongside Amandla Stenberg in The Hate U Give, the much-anticipated film adaptation of Angie Thomas’ young adult novel touching on Black Lives Matter (out Oct. 19).
Growing up, Carpenter was “mesmerized” by singers like Adele and Christina Aguilera, “those huge voices coming from these beautiful, intelligent women,” but her taste has evolved: She gushes over Brockhampton (“I really, really love them!”) and recently caught Arctic Monkeys on tour. As for her own live show (at Billboard’s Hot 100 Music Festival on Aug. 19), Carpenter says that as she’s matured, so, too, has her stage presence: “When you’re in front of a crowd every night, you forget you’re even putting on a show. That’s when it gets really good.”
This article originally appeared in the Aug 11 issue of Billboard.