'Wicked' Star Jessica Vosk Talks New Album and Stepping Into a Major Broadway Role: Exclusive

Jessica Vosk
Michael Hull

Jessica Vosk

Vosk is also premiering her track 'Brand New Key' today (Aug. 7).

As Jessica Vosk was finishing up a year on tour as Elphaba in Wicked in 2017, the New Jersey native considered making an album. At the time, she had only three Broadway credits, beginning with The Bridges of Madison County in 2014. But while hopping around the U.S., she amassed a considerable fan base as the persecuted green-skinned witch who brings down the first-act curtain (and the house) singing “Defying Gravity.”

A crowdfunding campaign exceeded its $30,000 goal in a matter of days, and before Vosk took over as Elphaba in the Broadway production of Wicked in July, she recorded Wild and Free, an eclectic album including tunes from The Greatest Showman, Waitress and The Secret Garden alongside songs by Prince (“Nothing Compares 2 U”) and Sia (“Chandelier”).

Before the record's Aug. 10 release, Vosk talked to Billboard about her road to making it to Broadway. You can get an exclusive first listen to the track "Brand New Key" below, and check out our Q&A after the jump.

First things first: how did you get fans to give you all that money?

People had been asking me for a really long time about doing an album. So I was chatting with my team, and they suggested it. I hate asking people for money -- that’s so not my jam -- but finally I came around and said, “I’ll give myself 30 days, and if I don’t get the money, that’s it, I’m not asking again.” In 72 hours, we raised over $35,000. I was stunned.

Does knowing that your fans financed the album put pressure on you to please them?

There’s a little bit of that, but I’m such a perfectionist that I hold myself to that kind of pressure anyway. My M.O. with putting this album out now is to give people -- and a lot of my fanbase are younger kids -- a look at songs that they have never heard of before, because maybe they’re from the ’70s or maybe they’re old-school Broadway. I hope it gives them a chance to open up their vocabulary a little bit.

How did you pick the title?

My life has followed a very strange, wacky path. I worked on Wall Street and decided to leave and try Broadway when I was 27. This past year has been the first time that I actually felt so comfortable and free with who I am. And I’m a crazy, wild person. It’s a nod to the fact that I’m O.K. with who I am for the first time in my life.

Wild and Free has quite a range of songs, from Jon Bellion’s “Woke the Fuck Up” to “The Music That Makes Me Dance” from Funny Girl.

I love to try and put my own spin on something completely -- where people weren’t thinking that there would be a quartet of strings plus a four-part harmony on “Woke the Fuck Up” because it’s called “Woke the Fuck Up” and it’s a complete dance song. And I’d never sung “Music That Makes Me Dance” until I got the chance to be a singer for the New York City Ballet. You’re taken on this completely beautiful love story. My dream role is [Fanny Brice, the lead role] in Funny Girl.  

You also give a nifty country styling to Melanie’s “Brand New Key.” What made you select that one?

My parents are both extremely artsy and musical, and I grew up with the Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills & Nash version of what music is. I think three or four months ago I was just sitting in my living room and the song came on and I thought, I can revamp this and do something a little bit twangy with it.

In July, you took over the role of Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway. How’s that going?

Even though it’s the same show [as on tour], it’s quite different. It’s extremely demanding, but it’s amazing to get to do their 15th anniversary [this fall]. It’s a lot of pressure to be the one to tell that story, but people of every single age who come to see the show can relate. That’s why I do it.