My love affair with music and songwriting began with a princess Jasmine costume and a Michael Jackson cassette tape. I was seven years old, and it was definitely not Halloween.
I was the type of kid who probably spent significantly more time in princess Jasmine costumes than I did in the adorably curated wardrobe my poor mother spent so much time assembling. That night, as I was magic carpeting around our parquet kitchen floor, my dad- an incredible guitar player and songwriter with seriously great taste in music- randomly pulled out a Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous' cassette tape and a toy keyboard he’d given me for Christmas a few months before. He told me this guy’s music was awesome, and we were gonna have a dance party- he was about to teach me all about rhythm.
For the next few hours, song by song, he taught me about downbeats, syncopation, cadence - explaining all of it in the beautifully simple, kid-language way only dads can - jumping and bouncing off the walls of our little Northeast Ohio ranch house, with me trailing behind in a whirl of sparkly mint green. I remember thinking, this Michael Jackson guy is a lot of fun. And he writes great songs.
A few months later, I told my dad I wanted to write a song together. I’d grown up watching him play his music at coffee houses, churches, and the like - and I thought it would be really cool to write a song of my own just like my dad (and Michael Jackson). At the time, I was in the inevitable little kid phase of wanting every pet animal ever. I think it must’ve had something to do with my elementary school teacher who held the coveted most class pets in the whole school system record, but whatever the motivation, I had my heart set on a pet ferret. I wanted a ferret like other little girls want ponies.
And so, to illustrate what a great time me and this ferret would have together, I wrote my first song. It was called “Me and Harriet.” If you guessed that Harriet was the name I gave to my fake ferret you guessed right. I had a blast putting the song together with my dad. I never did get the ferret - all it took was my uncle hearing the song and sharing an anecdote about his college pet ferret nearly biting his finger off - but I got something that turned out to be much better: the songwriting bug.
Fast forward to my freshman year of high school: I’m a gangly teenager just cresting out of a tragic middle school awkward phase. On a family vacation to a quiet little island that spring, I picked up my dad’s travel guitar and with his help, learned my first three chords. We’d made the trek down to South Florida in our teal Sienna minivan to save money, so I had about 22 hours of watching the world go by from the backseat when that trip was over. By the time we got home, I had about five new songs scratched down in my purple notebook. And they weren’t about ferrets this time.
Once my dad found out I was writing again, he snuck into my room and confiscated my demo tapes (yep, still in the cassette tape era). The EP that followed those demos quickly landed me gigs alongside artists like Counting Crows and John Mayer. The songs and the shows all led to attention from labels in New York and LA, and I spent the majority of my high school years diving headfirst into a career in music.
After graduating, sitting on my freshman dorm room bed at Ohio's Miami University with a freshly microwaved box of Bagel Bites in lap, I got a message - on MySpace, of all places - from first friend and network founder Tom Anderson. He’d stumbled on my page, loved my songs, and invited me to showcase for his new label in Los Angeles. A week later, I became MySpace Records’ first signed artist. In spring of 2007, shortly after finishing up the record with producer Marshall Altman in LA, I dropped out of college and hopped onto a tour bus.
The next year was a wonderful whirlwind of shows and new cities as I toured the country and promoted my new album. While passing through Los Angeles on tour, I dropped into an audition on a whim for a musician-centric role on the CW show “One Tree Hill.” After landing the part, what was supposed to be a two-episode run became a four-season run, and I found myself performing eleven of my original songs to millions of viewers over the course of my time on the show. I split my time between the road and the television set, releasing follow-up records “A Fine Mess” in spring of 2009, “Gravity Happens” in 2011, and the "Wild Card EP" in 2014.
I’ve spent the last couple years continuing to tour the US and Europe, writing new songs from airplane window seats and ultimately embarking on a new chapter. I catalogued my adventures and experiences during these past few years of travel and exploration on my new record, "Canyonlands." I made half of it in Los Angeles and half in Nashville, and the record is really an homage to the 70's California sound I grew up with and still count as my biggest sonic influence. I can't wait to play these new songs on tour this year, and also can’t wait to share what I’ve been creating for my next project soon!