|Birth name||Vanessa Lee Carlton|
August 16, 1980 |
Milford, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Genres||Pop, pop rock, piano rock|
|Labels||A&M, The Inc., Razor & Tie|
|Associated acts||Counting Crows, Stevie Nicks, Stephan Jenkins, Santana|
Vanessa Lee Carlton (born August 16, 1980) is an American singer-songwriter and musician. Upon completion of her education at the School of American Ballet, Carlton chose to pursue singing instead, performing in New York bars and clubs while attending university. Three months after recording a demo with producer Peter Zizzo, she signed with A&M Records. She began recording her album, which was initially unsuccessful until Ron Fair took over.
Her debut single, "A Thousand Miles", reached the top five on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2002. Her debut album, Be Not Nobody, followed and received platinum certification in the United States. Her subsequent albums, Harmonium (2004) and Heroes & Thieves (2007), failed to exceed the commercial success of the first. She produced a fourth album, Rabbits on the Run (2011) independently before sourcing for a record label to release it.
Life and career 
Childhood and youth 
Carlton was born in Milford, Pennsylvania, the first of three children to Ed Carlton, a pilot, and Heidi, a pianist and school music teacher. Her two younger siblings are a sister, Gwen, and a brother, Edmund. Carlton is of half Russian and half Scandinavian ancestry.
Her interest in music began at an early age. At the age of two, she visited Disneyland Park and played "It's a Small World" on the piano when she came home. Her mother then began to tutor her. She was introduced to classical music from a young age. By the age of 9, she had become passionate about ballet. In 1994, when Carlton was 14 years old, she enrolled at the School of American Ballet. Upon graduation, she put on vocal performances at nightclubs in the community, beginning to feel more comfortable and dynamic on the stage. Carlton was signed to A&M Records in 2001.
2002–2003: Be Not Nobody 
Carlton first met songwriter/producer Peter Zizzo at a singer-songwriter circle. A few months later, Zizzo invited Carlton to his studio to record a demo. Three months after recording the demo, Carlton was signed by Jimmy Iovine and began to record the album, Rinse. It was never released, but a few tracks were reworked for Be Not Nobody. One song, "Carnival", was re-recorded as "Dark Carnival" for the video game SpyHunter 2. Other tracks included in Rinse are "Interlude" (later known as A Thousand Miles), "Rinse", "Ordinary Days" (later known as "Ordinary Day"), "Twilight", "Pretty Baby", "All I Ask" and "Superhero". Of these, only the first five are included in her first album, Be Not Nobody. Other unreleased tracks from her early demo tapes include "Faces", "Meggy Sue", "Little Mary", "Burden", "Wonder", "Devil Dance" and "Last Fall".
With her previous unsuccessful recording efforts, Carlton felt there was a lack of direction at her label. However, A&M president Ron Fair upon hearing her demo to "A Thousand Miles", began organizing recording sessions for the song, producing and arranging the song himself. It became a hit, peaking inside the top five on the Billboard Hot 100 and went on to become the sixth-most-played song of the year, as well as garnering Grammy Award nominations for "Record of the Year", "Song of the Year", and "Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)". Fair would produce the rest of the 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 went on to sell more than two million copies worldwide. Two more singles, "Ordinary Day" and "Pretty Baby" were released. Carlton began touring in support of her debut album, opening for the Goo Goo Dolls and Third Eye Blind, before headlining her own tour at the end of 2002. She later toured Europe in 2003.
Carlton had collaborated with other artists before the release of her second album. She provided the descant vocals for the Counting Crows song "Big Yellow Taxi", played piano for Italian singer Zucchero, along with Haylie Ecker on violin, for the song "Indaco Dagli Occhi Del Cielo" and provided backing vocals for "Moving On" by Kimya Dawson for her album Hidden Vagenda.
2004–2005: Harmonium 
Carlton's second album, Harmonium was released in November 2004. Harmonium debuted at number 33 on the Billboard 200 and descended quickly after; selling less than 150,000 copies as of February 2006, which was considered a disappointment after her successful debut. It was produced by Stephan Jenkins from Third Eye Blind, and included darker themes than those on her debut. Carlton and Jenkins met and began a relationship in mid-2002, when she and rock band Third Eye Blind, of which Jenkins is lead singer, were on tour together. After seeing Carlton perform live, Jenkins entered her dressing room and expressed interest in producing her music, and according to Carlton they "decided very quickly, that we had the same vision for the album". Carlton credited Jenkins with helping her to withstand and protect herself from pressures the record label executives, who wanted to influence the recording process, placed on her. According to Carlton, her label "wasn't very happy" about the decisions she made during the making of the album. Carlton stated that the album contained more of her own aesthetic as opposed to Be Not Nobody which was more influenced by Ron Fair. A single, "White Houses", released to radio in late-August 2004, peaking at number 86 on the Billboard Hot 100. MTV censored and later banned the single's music video because of a controversial lyric in the song that refers to sexual intercourse. Carlton attributed the censoring of the song to the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy involving Janet Jackson which had occurred earlier that year.
To support the album, Carlton embarked on a North American concert tour, which began on October 21, and concluded on November 21; her opening act was Low Millions. A second tour, with Cary Brothers and Ari Hest as supporting acts, ran from March 9 to April 30. Carlton left A&M Records in mid-2005 as she felt that her nonconformist attitude would have created problems for her at the label in the future. A&M Records had sent Carlton into the recording studio because they wanted to re-release Harmonium, whereas Carlton felt the album should be celebrated as it was. During her studio time, in which she wrote songs with Linda Perry and The Matrix, she had what she called a "revelation" about leaving the label to find another record deal once promotion for Harmonium had ended.
2006–2010: Heroes & Thieves 
In August 2005, Carlton said she was to enter the recording studio the following month with producer Linda Perry, with whom she had previously collaborated after executives at A&M Records sent her into the studio to record a re-release single for Harmonium. The album was influenced by Carlton's breakup with its co-producer, Stephan Jenkins, and Carlton said that one of the reasons they remained friends was that "nothing took precedence over the music ... No matter what was going on in the emotional realm, all we cared about was the album. It created this kinetic environment that was kind of like Fleetwood Mac. It made for better music."
Heroes & Thieves was released and greeted with generally positive reviews. It debuted at number 44 on the U.S. Billboard 200, "Nolita Fairytale" was the first single and peaked at number 26 adult. To promote the album, Carlton embarked on the Haunted Club Tour, from November 2 to 24, 2007. Second single "Hands on Me" was sent out to radios in February 2008 and reached number nine. One song on the album was "Spring Street," based on Spring Street in SoHo in Manhattan. Carlton parted amicably with The Inc. once her promotional commitments to Heroes & Thieves had passed.
She contributed a stripped-down version of the song "More than This" to Songs for Tibet, an album compiled in support of Tibet to underline its human rights situation. On September 25, 2008, Carlton and several other musicians and scientists departed on a nine-day trip to the Arctic Circle. On behalf of the charity Cape Farewell, they worked alongside researchers for the purpose of studying climate change. On June 19, 2010, Carlton came out as bisexual while headlining Nashville Pride. Carlton had also been a part for PETA's Animal Birth Control Campaign; she owns a long haired dachshund named Lord Victor.
2011–present: Rabbits on the Run & New Record 
Carlton's fourth studio album Rabbits on the Run was released on July 26, 2011 under Razor & Tie, the third record label she signed with. Before recording the album, Carlton was unsure whether she wanted to make another record or pursue film scoring instead. After deciding to try again, she decided that she needed to record in the ideal environment, choosing to record at Real World Studios Box, England.[not in citation given] She chose the title for the symbolism often depicted by rabbits – 'time slipping, mind floating' – which is something she has been relating to for the past few years. The album was further inspired by Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time and Richard Adams's Watership Down. The dreamy, fantastical sound of the album was achieved by recording direct to tape and features production by Steve Osborne. First single, "Carousel" was released on May 3. On September 19, a tweet in Carlton's account made by her management stated that "I Don't Want to Be a Bride" would be the next single off the record.
On November 10, a tweet made by Carlton's management announced the upcoming release of her holiday EP titled Hear the Bells on November 21. The EP consists of four tracks, two of which are acoustic versions of Carlton's songs Hear the Bells and A Thousand Miles. Via Twitter, Carlton announced that her label wouldn’t produce a video for "I Don't Want to Be a Bride," instead producing one for "Hear the Bells". The music video, which Carlton describes as her most revealing to date, was released on June 7, 2012.
Vanessa announced[when?] that she had returned to Real World Studios in late 2012 to commence work on a new album related to euphoria. She has since clarified on Twitter that "Euphoria" is not the actual name of the new album, nor is it straightforward electronically fabricated.
Charity work 
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.
Studio albums 
Compilation albums 
- 2002: Ordinary Day
- 2011: Hear the Bells
- 2002 – Billboard Music Award for New Artist of the Year
- 2003 – American Music Award for Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist
- 2003 – Grammy Award for Record of the Year; "A Thousand Miles"
- 2003 – Grammy Award for Song of the Year; "A Thousand Miles"
- 2003 – Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s); "A Thousand Miles"
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- Finn, Natalie (July 22, 2008). "Sting, Matthews, Mayer Gamer for Tibet Than Beijing". E-Online. Retrieved May 13, 2010.
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