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Love letter: ‘Little Voice’ pays homage to diverse musicality of New York City

Colton Ryan and Brittany O’Grady in “Little Voice.” (Courtesy of Apple TV)

Jessie Nelson collaborated with Sara Bareilles and found success with the Broadway musical “Waitress.”

Hopes were set high as the pair joined forces with J.J. Abrams for the series “Little Voice.”

The first three episodes began streaming on July 10, with new episodes being released each Friday.

“Sara and J.J. had a discussion about putting together a coming-of-age story for a singer-songwriter,” Nelson says. “We wanted to dive into where songs come from as well as telling a compelling story.”

“Little Voice” is a love letter to the diverse musicality of New York.

It explores the journey of finding one’s authentic voice in your early 20s.

Bareilles provides original music for the fresh, intensely romantic tale of the search to find your true voice and then the courage to use it.

Nelson is the showrunner, writer and director for the first episode.

“We really felt that creating something very heart-forward was important,” Nelson says. “Finding which lane was authentic to the story was also important in development.”

“Little Voice” was also Nelson’s first foray into TV.

Yet the challenges were embraced.

“Shooting on the streets of New York City with live music was one,” she says. “We had a huge cast, and four actors are on the spectrum. The challenges were aplenty, but it was as messy and alive and complicated as life is. It’s a true representation.”

Another obstacle the filmmakers had to deal with was the ever-changing landscape of New York City.

“New York is constantly surprising you,” Nelson says. “You find a mural that you love, and it will make a great backdrop to a scene. Then it’s not there anymore. Or trying to shoot the most intimate songs and there’s a jackhammer going full throttle. New York City will endlessly surprise you with gifts and challenges.”

The series is also about confronting fears and self=doubt.

“It’s about learning to make friends with your fear,” Nelson says. “When you have self-doubt and keep learning and growing, it becomes part of your process. That’s what makes each person special. There’s no one way to accomplish goals.”

Nelson also credits the three editors in making the show stand out.

“They each had experience editing music,” she says. “We had all these paints to paint with. The editing is like the last draft, and it was an enjoyable process because the music elevated the entire series.”

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