Vanessa Lee Carlton (born August 16, 1980) is a Jewish 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[1] and had sold 179,000 copies as of February 2006,[2][3] with the single "White Houses," peaking at 86 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.[4] 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.[5]

Early life

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.[6] She began her schooling at a Montessori school.[7]

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.[7]


Rinse (unreleased): 1999–2001

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.[8] 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.[9]

Rinse was never released, but such tracks as "Ordinary Day", "Rinse", "Pretty Baby", "Twilight", "Paradise", "Prince", "Wanted", "Sway" 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

With her previous unsuccessful recording efforts, Carlton was feeling that there was a lack of direction at her label.[6] 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.[10] "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.[11] "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)."[3]

Two more singles—"Ordinary Day," peaking at #30 on the Billboard Hot 100[12]; and "Pretty Baby," which was nominated for a 2003 Teen Choice Award for "Choice Love Song"[13]—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.[14] 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.[15]

Harmonium: 2004–2005

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.[16] 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.[1][3]

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.[4] 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...".[17]

To support the album, Carlton embarked on a North American concert tour, which began on October 21 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and concluded on November 21 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."[18] 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.[19] A second tour, with Cary Brothers and Ari Heist as support acts for many of the shows, ran from March 9 (in Atlanta, Georgia) to April 30 (in Plattsburgh, New York}.[20]

Carlton left A&M Records in mid-2005.[21] 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.[22][3]

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."[23]

Heroes & Thieves: 2006–2009

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 Late Nite Bitty Bite in New York City.[21] 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.[24]

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.[25][3]

Heroes & Thieves was greeted with generally positive reviews (receiving a 78/100 score on the website Metacritic, which indicates "generally favorable reviews").[26] It debuted at number forty-four on the U.S. Billboard 200[27][28], with "Nolita Fairytale" as the first single.[5] As of December 2007, the album had sold 41,000 copies in the U.S.[29] Her second single, "Hands on Me", was sent out to radios January 19, and the video was released February 15. 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 November 2 (Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.) to November 24 (Montreal, Quebec, Canada).[30] On May 28, 2008, Carlton announced the dates for a summer U.S. tour with Joshua Radin and Alexa Wilkinson.[31]

Tall Tales for Spring: 2009–2010

On January 28, 2009, she posted on her Myspace blog that she is working on a new album, after having a writer's block last year. Vanessa tweeted on October 5, 2009, that "Tall Tales for Spring" may be the new album title.

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. [32]

Personal life

Carlton is of Scandinavian descent on her father's side, and of Russian Jewish descent on her mother's.[33][34]

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.

She has been a resident of Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan and currently resides in an apartment in the Nolita neighborhood of Manhattan.[35]

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 August 5 via iTunes and on August 19 in music stores around the world.[36]

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.[37]



Year Album Singles Sales
1999 Rinse
  • Unreleased Demo Album
2002 Be Not Nobody
  • Release Date: April 30, 2002
  • Label: A&M Records
  • "A Thousand Miles"
  • "Ordinary Day"
  • "Pretty Baby"
2004 Harmonium
  • Release Date: November 9, 2004
  • Label: A&M Records
  • "White Houses"
  • "Private Radio"
  • "Who's to Say"
2007 Heroes & Thieves
  • Release Date: October 9, 2007
  • Label: The Inc. Records
  • "Nolita Fairytale"
  • "Hands on Me"
2010 Tall Tales for Spring
  • Release Date: Spring 2010
  • Label: TBA
  • TBA


Year Single Chart positions Album
U.S. Hot 100
U.S. AC U.S. Top 40 Main UK AUS
2002 "A Thousand Miles" 5 1 1 3 1 1 1 Be Not Nobody
"Ordinary Day" 30 9 53 48 3 1
"Pretty Baby" 101 21 94 20
2004 "White Houses" 86 25 30 22 1 Harmonium
"Who's to Say" 79
"Private Radio" 99
2007 "Nolita Fairytale" 16 89 Heroes & Thieves
2008 "Hands on Me" -

† for Indonesia charts.


  • "Red Ditty" ("A Thousand Miles" single B-side, 2002)
  • "Swindler" ("Ordinary Day" single B-side, 2002)
  • "Morning Sting" ("Live Recordings 2003-2009 )
  • "Wishin And Hopin" ("Cover Of Marilyn Monroe Live on American Dreams)


  1. 1.0 1.1 Mar, Alex. "Eminem's Encore Scores". Rolling Stone. November 17, 2004. Retrieved August 2, 2006.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hasty, Katie. "Billboard Bits: Pearl Jam, Vanessa Carlton, Don Caballero". Billboard. February 24, 2006. Retrieved August 2, 2006.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Petrie, Saidah, Vanessa Carlton,,, retrieved 2009-12-02 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Vanessa Carlton - White Houses". MusicSquare. Retrieved September 16, 2006.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Vozick-Levinson, Simon. "Irv Gotti and Vanessa Carlton, together at last". Entertainment Weekly. June 1, 2007. Retrieved June 25, 2007.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Sarah Parkin Bio". Retrieved 2008-04-16. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Vanessa Carlton Bio". Retrieved 2006-08-19. 
  8. "handwritten Vanessa Carlton Bio". Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  9. "Billboard interview". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  10. "The Making of A Thousand Miles". Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  11. Vanessa Carlton - Entertainment News, Los Angeles, Media - Variety
  12. - Artist Chart History - Vanessa Carlton
  13. - Music Business - Billboard Charts - Album Sales - Concert Tours
  14. "Bio by Jason McNeil". Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  15. "Artist Bio". Rock on the Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  16. "Top 40 chart overview". Top40 Charts. Retrieved 2006-08-19. 
  17. Shoebang, Eddie. "Outspoken pianist/singer/songwriter may get censored by MTV, but won't censor herself". The College Times. November 4, 2004. Retrieved February 11, 2007.
  18. D., Spence. "Vanessa Carlton Interview". December 1, 2004. Retrieved February 13, 2007.
  19. Cuprisin, Tim. "Time Warner's DVR is on your side!". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. February 2005. Retrieved August 2, 2006.
  20. "Tour Information". Retrieved September 16, 2006.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Cinquemani, Sal. "Vanessa Carlton: A Pop Princess in Her Living Room". Slant. June 14, 2005. Retrieved September 16, 2006.
  22. Corneau, Allison. "Carlton maintains musical integrity despite label pressures of conformity". Quinnipiac Chronicle. April 6, 2005. Retrieved September 16, 2006.
  23. "Stevie Nicks: Says she couldn't feel any luckier right now". Grand Rapids Press. June 23, 2005. Retrieved August 2, 2006.
  25. Reid, Shaheem. "Irv Gotti Maps Out Inc. Comeback With Vanessa Carlton, Lloyd, Ja Rule". MTV News. November 28, 2006. Retrieved November 30, 2006.
  26. "Heroes & Thieves by Vanessa Carlton". Metacritic.
  27. Tebben, Susan. "Carlton doesn't sell out for music industry". The Post. November 5, 2007.
  28. Harris, Chris. "Kid Rock's Jesus Overpowers Bruce Springsteen's Magic On Billboard Chart". MTV News. October 17, 2007.
  29. Watson, Margeaux. Frayed Irv. Entertainment Weekly. December 14, 2007. Retrieved May 10, 2009.
  30. Universal Motown. "Vanessa Carlton Announces 'Haunted Club Tour' in Support of Highly Anticipated New Album, Heroes & Thieves". Business Wire. October 8, 2007.
  31. Official Vanessa Carlton Myspace concert listings. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
  32. Staton, John (22 April 2009), Vanessa Carlton ready for next thousand miles,,, retrieved 2009-12-02 
  33. Lamb, Chris (2002-04-29). "Vanessa Carlton: A Thousand Miles To Here". TeenMusic. Retrieved 2006-08-19. 
  34. j. - Celebrity Jews
  35. Staff. "Second Cup Cafe: Vanessa Carlton", CBS News, November 17, 2007. Accessed August 10, 2009. "A few years ago, this three-time Grammy nominee was living in New York's Hell's Kitchen and working as a waitress in Lower Manhattan between performances at open mic nights in the city's clubs."
  36. E-Online (July 22, 2008) Sting, Matthews, Mayer Gamer for Tibet Than Beijing
  37. d'Estries, Michael (8 September 2008), KT Tunstall And Vanessa Carlton Head To Arctic To Study Climate Change, Ecorazzi, LLC,, retrieved 2009-12-02 
  38. Carlton finds harmony on sophomore CD
  39. Vanessa Carlton Album & Song Chart History, Nielsen Business Media, Inc.,, retrieved 2009-12-02 
  40. Vanessa Carlton, Hung Medien,, retrieved 2009-12-02 

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Vanessa Carlton. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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