Vanessa Carlton

Vanessa Carlton
VANESSA CARLTON smiles a lot these days-and with good reason. She began the year by wrapping up her highly anticipated debut album, BE NOT NOBODY, an intoxicating blend of earthy sensuality and emotional resonance. Several months before the album was finished, things were intensified by the lead single "A Thousand Miles" and its companion video.

Rolling Stone named Carlton one of the "Top 10 Artists To Watch in 2002." Calling her "a more pop-oriented Fiona Apple," the magazine praised Carlton's "serious formal skills at the keyboard," as well as her ability to keep her songs "busy with classical flourishes, rich voicings and harmonies reminiscent of Tori Amos."

Carlton grew up surrounded by music. Her mother (a piano teacher) along with her father, took Carlton to Disneyland when she was just 2 years of age. After hearing the song "A Small World" while on her family trip, Carlton returned home, ran to the piano and picked out the melody note by note. This is where Carlton's musical journey began.

Under her mother's tutelage, Carlton was exposed to a variety of composers, including Eric Satie, Mendelson and Debussy. She played often, and quickly developed a versatile and surprisingly sophisticated talent, composing her first piece at age eight. Growing up, only classical music was allowed to be played in the family home, but Carlton was comfortable with this from day one. Her father was also a big fan of Pink Floyd, which is why Carlton has an odd combination of musical influences.

Though Carlton continued to hone her craft, she slowly became less interested in playing "Swan Lake" than dancing it. At 14, she was accepted into the School of American Ballet where she enrolled in the Professional Children's School and began a new life. Experiencing difficulties adjusting to the strict school regime, Carlton submerged herself in music, often finding comfort playing on the piano found on the grounds of the school. This is where she really started to hone her songwriting talents.

Walking away from her nascent ballet career at age 17, Carlton moved to Hell's Kitchen and took a job as a waitress. She continued to write, and after amassing a gaggle of songs, mustered up the courage to road test them on the New York club circuit.

When behind the piano, Carlton is hypnotic to watch, conveying a full vocabulary of emotions through evocative melodies and provocative phrasings. In the lush "Be Not Nobody", which was produced by A&M Records President Ron Fair, she draws as much from classical music as from classic rock, fusing both with a soulful pop voice that is by turns vulnerable, sultry and raw. Starting with the warm and upbeat vibe of "A Thousand Miles," Carlton takes listeners on a kaleidoscopic journey through sweeping, waltz-like passages ("Ordinary Day"), irresistible pop cuts ("Pretty Baby"), beautifully orchestrated meditations ("Twilight") and sharp slices of amp joy intensity ("Unsung"). Listeners will also be pleasantly surprised by her dark and juiced-up version of the Rolling Stones classic, "Paint It Black."

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