Sabrina Carpenter accepted the Variety Hitmakers Rising Artist Award presented by H&M on Saturday, using the popular fable of “The Tortoise and the Hare” as a metaphor for her rise in the music industry.
“Something that my mom always said to me as a little girl that really annoyed me was that I am the tortoise, and if you guys know the tortoise and the hare thing, that pissed me off a lot because, you know, throughout my life, [I was] being told, ‘Sabrina, you’re the tortoise, just chill,’ like ‘it’s okay, you’re the tortoise, just slow down, it’s going to be okay,’” Carpenter said. “In moments of frustration and confusion it can feel like a letdown, but it turns out it’s actually a very good thing. And I’ve really loved getting to know the mindset of a slow rise.
“Knowing that I have a lot to look forward to and no matter how much I experience and how much I have under my belt, I’ll always have something to learn. That’s kind of where I’m at right now, I’m just learning,” continued Carpenter. “And I’m very grateful.”
Carpenter, who is coming off a banner year, was presented the award by “Issues” singer-songwriter Julia Michaels. She described Carpenter as one of her friends, longtime collaborator and inspiration.
“I’ve had the honor of getting to know and write songs with this incredible artist over the last few years. I’m absolutely in awe of her lyricism and her incredible voice and her extremely quick-witted sense of humor. It’s top-notch. And her completely unmatched work ethic,” said Michaels in her introduction of Carpenter. “She’s one of the most intelligent women that I know and I love her ability to turn anything good and bad into a song.”
Carpenter then took to the stage to accept her award.
“It’s so scary up here, oh my god, the lights are bright, it’s hot,” Carpenter joked.
She then addressed Michaels with, “I just want to thank you because you’ve taught me so much. And I’m so inspired by you and I love you so much.”
Carpenter released her fifth studio album “Emails I Can’t Send” last year, and it became her highest-charting to date, spawning the single “Nonsense” that quickly earned its spot as a fan favorite. She followed the 2022 release with a deluxe edition earlier this year, and embarked on an 80-date international headlining tour to support the project. Most recently, she’s been the opening act on Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, warming up for the singer in South America and Australia where she’ll rejoin the trek in February.
Carpenter, who starred in “Girl Meets World” from 2014 to 2017, has long since shed the Disney image she cultivated over the years. She worked with a tight-knit team on “Emails,” including songwriter Julia Michaels, for an album that marries pop prowess with R&B intonations.
Her latest single, “Feather,” courted controversy after its music video release in October, when a Brooklyn Catholic Church where she filmed the clip said they had to re-bless the establishment and remove a priest due to the blood-splattered content. “We got approval in advance,” she told Variety, “and Jesus was a carpenter.”
Last month, she threw her hat into the holiday ring with the release of her “Fruitcake” EP, a Christmas project that featured a festive rework of “Nonsense,” among others. She also shared that she plans to record new music for potential release next year.