Vanessa Lee Carlton was born on August 16, 1980, and raised in Milford, Pennsylvania.
Music came naturally to Vanessa who plunked out the melody to "It's a Small World" at the age of 2. She continued piano lessons and began composing her own songs. Vanessa also picked up ballet as a child. As a teenager, she moved to New York City to attend ballet school. Vanessa grew tired of dance and found herself again drawn to the piano. This time, though, her music was given words.
Much of Vanessa's charm and populatiry comes from the sincerity of her lyrics. While many pop stars of the day have claimed their debut albums were written from a fictional standpoint, Vanessa drew from her experiences living alone and strugglingly through life as a dancer in NYC. Her disillusionment with ballet came at the tender age of 17, leading her to write a fan favorite, "Twilight". She played on a broken little keyboard in her dorm and there realized that she wanted to persue music. So, she spent time in Hell's Kitchen, playing the bar scene, performing for drunks who had other things on their minds.
After two years of this, Vanessa got her big break and she was singed to Interscope Records. She spent the next months writing and recording a record tentavtively entitied Rinse. Changes at the label forced that record to be scrapped and Vanessa was instead signed to A&M. There she hooked up with producer Ron Fair. The final result was the 11 track, platinum selling, Be not Nobody released on April 30, 2002.
Be not Nobody debuted at number 5 on the Billboard Album Chart propelled by the stellar lead single "A Thousand Miles", which has since been featured in many films, including the 2001 smash Legally Blonde and 2004's White Chicks. The following singles were "Ordinary Day" and "Pretty Baby". MTV at first would not air the video for "Pretty Baby" citing something about a problem with the bondage during the final scene, but did premiere the video after a bit of editing. She did a bit of "mmm bop bop bop"ing on the Counting Crows' cover of "Big Yellow Taxi". At the 2003 Grammys, Vanessa was a performer and a nominee for "Record of the Year", "Song of the Year", and "Orchestration", all for "A Thousand Miles". Vanessa was a winner at the VH1 Big in 2002 Awards for the "Can't Get It Out Of Your Head" Award. She has performed on numerous television shows including Rosie O'Donnell, Regis and Kelly, Jay Leno, The Early Show, TRL, the Thanksgiving Half-Time Show, and even her own episode of MTV's Duets. Instead of just basking in the glow of her new found fame and fortune, Vanessa has also donated her time and resources to charities and projects like Arthur Ashe's Kids Day, the Bridge School Benefit, and VH1's Save the Music. It was this spirit that prompted her fans to raise money and purchase 1,000 roses for cancer patients in NYC on Be not Nobody's release date during Vanessa's TRL appearance that day.
The success of Vanessa's debut album allowed her to spend much of 2002 on the road. During the first half of the year, she did radio shows while her popularity increased. Soon she was tapped to open the Third Eye Blind/Goo Goo Dolls summer/fall 2002 Tour. After the close of that tour came a quick jump to Japan. Vanessa rounded out the year on her first solo US Tour. 2003 began much the way 2002 ended: on the road. Vanessa did her first tour in Europe throughout January and February. Following the European leg of her tour, Vanessa took 2003 off to record her sophomore album. She made very few, but very special appearances during the year. Vanessa performed the National Anthem at the MLB All-Star Game, a full set at the Pantene Pro-Voice show in NYC, and a very intimate DVD taping in NYC for a handful of her biggest fans.
2004 promises to be an exciting year for the so-called "NESSAholics". Her sophomore album, Harmonium is to be released on October 19. On July 28, fans got a special preview of the first single "White Houses" on MTV's TRL. The single is expected to drop in August. Of Harmonium, Vanessa has said that it's more of a "rock" record and lyrically different from Be not Nobody. The record was produced by long-time boyfriend Stephan Jenkins, front man of Third Eye Blind, and recorded at the famed Skywalker Ranch, outside of San Francisco. It has been confirmed that the record will include 10 tracks and come bundled with a behind-the-scenes type DVD called Pleased to Meet You. Fan anticipation promises that record sales will be high.
Not bad for a little girl from Pennsylvania.