Vanessa Lee Carlton (born August 16, 1980) is an American soft rock/pop singer, songwriter, and pianist. She is best known for the single "A Thousand Miles" from her debut album, Be Not Nobody, which was released April 30, 2002, and certified platinum in the U.S.
Carlton's second album, Harmonium (released November 9, 2004), debuted at number 33 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and had sold 179,000 copies as of February 2006, with the single "White Houses," peaking at 86 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. She subsequently parted company from her record label A&M.
Her third album, Heroes & Thieves, was released on October 9, 2007 by the The Inc./Universal Motown record labels.
Carlton was born in Milford, Pennsylvania, to Ed Carlton, a pilot, and Heidi, a pianist and school music teacher. Her interest in music began at an early age; one anecdote relates that, after returning from Disneyland at the age of two, Carlton played "It's a Small World" on the piano. This event inspired Carlton's mother to expose Carlton to various classical composers such as Mozart, Erik Satie, and Claude Debussy. Also, her mother began to tutor her on the piano. Through her father, she was exposed to classic-rock artists such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. She began her schooling at a Montessori school.
Carlton developed an interest in ballet at the age of nine and was accepted at the School of American Ballet in New York City at age 14 while pursuing high school studies at the Professional Children's School. Carlton studied with such teachers as Nenette Charisse and Gelsey Kirkland. At age 18, she decided to devote her time to piano-playing and songwriting, and chose to not become a dancer on graduation. Instead, she attended Columbia University and performed in bars and clubs in Manhattan while working as a waitress.
Rinse (unreleased): 1999?2001
Main article: Rinse (album)
Carlton met with songwriter/producer Peter Zizzo at a singer-songwriter circle. A few months later, Zizzo invited Carlton to his studio to begin recording a demo with instruments accompanying Carlton's piano and vocals. Three months after recording the demo tape, Carlton was signed to a major-label record deal by Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope/Geffen/A&M, where she began recording the album with the working title Rinse.
Rinse was never released, but such tracks as "Ordinary Day," "Rinse," "Pretty Baby," "Twilight," and "Interlude" (later titled "A Thousand Miles") were reworked for her debut album, Be Not Nobody. Two other tracks?"All I Ask" and "Superhero"?remain unreleased. One song?"Carnival"?was re-recorded under the title "Dark Carnival" for the Spy Hunter 2 video game.
Be Not Nobody: 2002?2003
Main article: Be Not Nobody
With her previous unsuccessful recording efforts, Carlton was feeling that there was a lack of direction at her label. However, A&M president Ron Fair heard her demo to the song that became "A Thousand Miles," prompting him to organize recording sessions for the song, with himself as producer/arranger. "A Thousand Miles," became a hit piano pop single, peaking inside the top five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 with a video for the song being well-received on MTV. The Fair-produced album Be Not Nobody was subsequently released in April 2002 and debuted at number five on the Billboard 200 albums chart with 102,000 units sold. It would go on to sell more than 2 million copies worldwide. "A Thousand Miles" went on to become the sixth-most-played song of the year and garnered Grammy Award nominations for "Record of the Year," "Song of the Year," and "Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)."
Two more singles?"Ordinary Day," peaking at #30 on the Billboard Hot 100; and "Pretty Baby," which was nominated for a 2003 Teen Choice Award for "Choice Love Song"?were released from the album. She performed on Rosie O'Donnell's television show, performed on MTV's TRL, and was mentioned in Rolling Stone as one of ten artists to watch in 2002. She began touring in support of her debut album, opening for the Goo Goo Dolls and Third Eye Blind, before headlining on her own by the end of 2002. In 2003, she also toured Europe.
As a new artist, Carlton was compared to other female singer-songwriters, who played their own instruments like Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, Michelle Branch, and Avril Lavigne.
Main article: Harmonium (Vanessa Carlton album)
During this period, Carlton collaborated with other artists: she provided the descant vocals for the Counting Crows' cover of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi," which was recorded for the film Two Weeks Notice. Carlton's 2004 collaboration with the Italian rock and blues singer Zucchero, along with Haylie Ecker on violin, for the song "Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime" (a cover of The Korgis' song) reached the top-forty charts in France. She provided backing vocals for a song on anti-folk singer Kimya Dawson's 2004 album Hidden Vagenda.
Carlton began recording her second album, Harmonium, at Skywalker Ranch near San Francisco. Produced by Stephan Jenkins, Harmonium debuted at number thirty-three on the U.S. Billboard 200.
A single, "White Houses," which was released to radio in late-August 2004, entered the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in October, peaking at 86 in early November. MTV censored?and later banned?the single's music video because of a lyric in the song that refers to sexual intercourse. Carlton said it was hypocritical for MTV because "All that is on MTV is sex. They are selling it all the time with sexy hip-hop videos with girls in their bras and panties doing their booty dance. But an eloquent statement about it from a female point of view...".
To support the album, Carlton embarked on a North American concert tour, which began on in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and concluded on in Portland, Oregon; her opening act was pop-rock band Low Millions. Carlton said that the tour would be "just me and the piano" and "totally stripped down, like an in-your-living room-type of feeling, that type of intimacy." She recorded a cover of the Kai Winding song "Time Is on My Side" (1963) for a Time Warner digital video recorders commercial, which also served as promotion for Harmonium and received heavy rotation on U.S. television during early 2005. A second tour, with Cary Brothers and Ari Hest as support acts for many of the shows, ran from (in Atlanta, Georgia) to (in Plattsburgh, New York).
Carlton left A&M Records in mid-2005. Carlton said that she was suffering from the lack of promotion that the label gave to the album because of her nonconformist attitude, but that she felt she made the right decision with regard to gaining press attention and credibility that she wanted to maintain throughout her career so that she could attract loyal fans. "That's really important to me," she said.
During summer 2005, Carlton supported rock singer Stevie Nicks on Nicks's Gold Dust U.S. tour. Nicks said that she was glad to give Carlton the opportunity to perform in front of a large, caring and loving audience, particularly because the poor state of the music industry meant that artists such as her weren't "nurtured ... I really respect her. I'll be damned if I'll let her go by the wayside. She is one of the great ones. She won't quit."
Carlton in front of fans.
Heroes & Thieves: 2006?2009
Main article: Heroes & Thieves
As early as her Harmonium tour, Carlton had debuted three new songs?"Hands on Me," "This Time," and "The One"?in June 2005 at The Living Room in New York City. When on tour with rock singer Stevie Nicks in 2005 and 2006, Carlton premiered the songs "Best Behavior" and "All Is Well." In September 2005, Carlton entered the studio with producer Linda Perry to record her next album, and in May 2006, a studio version of "This Time" premiered on the website PromoSquad.
Irv Gotti announced in October 2006 that he had signed Carlton to The Inc. Records. Carlton's third album is titled Heroes & Thieves, which Gotti co-produced with Linda Perry and Stephan Jenkins.
Heroes & Thieves was greeted with generally positive reviews (receiving a 78/100 score on the website Metacritic, which indicates "generally favorable reviews"). It debuted at number forty-four on the U.S. Billboard 200, with "Nolita Fairytale" as the first single. As of December 2007, the album had sold 41,000 copies in the U.S. Her second single, "Hands on Me", was sent out to radios , and the video was released . The single gained promotional support when it was prominently featured in promotional commercials for the CW show Gossip Girl. To promote the album, Carlton embarked on a concert tour, the Haunted Club Tour, from (Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.) to (Montreal, Quebec, Canada). On May 28, 2008, Carlton announced the dates for a summer U.S. tour with Joshua Radin and Alexa Wilkinson.
Upcoming Album (Fourth Studio Record): 2009?2010
On January 28, 2009, she posted on her Myspace blog that she is working on a new album and that she had been planning it since January 2009, after having a writer's block last year.
Vanessa premiered three new songs in her recent live shows, "London", "Fair-Weather Friends" and an instrumental named "Waltz." In a recent interview, she stated she was half way done with the album and that it would probably be released later this year. It is unknown if the album will be released by The Inc. because on Carlton's MySpace her label status is Unknown Major.
Carlton is of Scandinavian descent on her father's side, and of Russian Jewish descent on her mother's.
She has two younger siblings?a sister named Gwen, who is a student at George Mason University; and a brother named Edmund, who is a member of his school's a cappella singing group and who attends Haverford College.
Jane magazine in the U.S. named Carlton one of the "eleven people you'd most like to see naked"; she posed for the magazine's July 2005 issue.
Ashton Kutcher Punk'd Carlton in November 2004 during a rehearsal for her performance on The Tonight Show.
She has been a resident of Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan and currently resides in an apartment in the Nolita neighborhood of Manhattan.
Vanessa Carlton has a long-haired dachshund dog named "Lord Victor," who barks at the end of the song "More Than This." He is also seen in the music video "Nolita Fairytale."
In 2005, Carlton completed the New York City Marathon and donated the pledge money she collected to Musicians on Call, a nonprofit organization that brings live and recorded music to patients' bedsides.
In 2008, she participated in a music album called Songs for Tibet, which is an initiative to support Tibet, Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso and to underline the human rights situation in Tibet. The album was issued on via iTunes and on in music stores around the world.
On September 25, 2008, Carlton, along with KT Tunstall and several other musicians and scientists, departed on a nine-day trip to the Arctic Circle. On behalf of the charity Cape Farewell, they hoped to work alongside researchers for the purpose of studying climate change.
All Vanessa Carlton lyrics
- A Thousand Miles
- All I Ask
- C'est La Vie
- Devil Dance
- Even Angels Fall
- Half A Week Before The Winter
- Half A Week Before Winter
- Last Fall
- Little Mary
- Meggie Sue
- More Than Wanted
- Ordinary Day
- Ordinary Days
- Paint It
- Paint It Black
- Pretty Baby
- Private Radio
- Red Ditty (Non-LP Version)
- San Francisco
- Say You
- She Floats
- The Wreckage
- Where The Streets Have No Name
- White Houses
- Who's To Say
All lyrics are property of their respective owners and are strictly for non-commercial use only.