5 Questions With ... Vanessa Carlton

GRAMMY-nominated artist discusses songwriting and her latest project
  • Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
    Vanessa Carlton
August 10, 2011 -- 1:33 pm PDT

GRAMMY-nominated recording artist Vanessa Carlton was the recent guest for an installment of The Recording Academy's 5 Questions With … series. Carlton discussed her songwriting process, music education, what it feels like to be nominated for a GRAMMY, and her new album Rabbits On The Run, among other topics.

"Stephen Hawking's A Brief History Of Time was the catalyst for a lot of the ideas that ended up being skeletons for the songs," said Carlton regarding the book's influence on Rabbits On The Run. "It also brought me a peace of mind that allowed me to write more clearly and really push the process forward."

Born in the small town of Mitford, Pa., Carlton emerged on the music scene in the early 2000s along with fellow female singer/songwriters Michelle Branch and Nelly Furtado. As a child Carlton took piano lessons from her mother and started collecting a variety of musical influences, including classical composers such as Chopin and Mozart and classic rock artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd and Neil Young. Following a stint at the School of American Ballet in New York, Carlton attended Columbia University and commenced writing songs, inspired by the likes of Tori Amos and Fiona Apple. Her talents caught the attention of industry executives Ahmet Ertegun, Jimmy Iovine and Ron Fair, and soon after Carlton signed with A&M Records. Released in 2002, her debut album, Be Not Nobody, rocketed to No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and featured the smash hit "A Thousand Miles." The song peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned Carlton a trio of GRAMMY nominations, including nods for Record and Song Of The Year. In 2004 Carlton released her sophomore effort, Harmonium, and followed with Heroes & Thieves in 2007, both of which cracked the Top 50 on the Billboard 200.

Following a four-year hiatus, Carlton inked a deal with independent label Razor & Tie and commenced recording Rabbits On The Run at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios in England. Released in June, Rabbits On The Run features 10 songs, including the single "Carousel," and contributions from producer Steve Osborne, My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Hallahan and the Upwelling guitarist Ari Ingber.

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