Vanessa Lee Carlton (born August 16, 1980 in Milford, Pennsylvania) is an American pop singer, songwriter, and pianist most known for the hit "A Thousand Miles".
Carlton began playing the piano as a toddler. She went to ballet school in New York City beginning at age 12. The stress and rigid training in the ballet lessons proved too much for her, and she chose not to become a ballerina after graduating from the academy. She attended Columbia University and performed in bars and clubs all over Manhattan before taking a leave from school and launching her first album at age 21.
This debut CD, Be Not Nobody, was released on April 30, 2002. It included the very popular hit single "A Thousand Miles", whose piano-based sound and piano-based surrealistic video made it instantly recognizable. A successful follow-up single came with "Ordinary Day." Carlton also provided backup vocals for the Counting Crows' cover of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi."
Carlton, along with Michelle Branch and Avril Lavigne, is often considered to have become popular in 2002 due to the alleged overexposure and insincerity of singers like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Such critics claim that Spears and Aguilera are oversexualized and lacking in personal creative investment in their music, while singers such as Carlton are considered songwriters in their own right who include more genuine sentiment in their lyrics.
Carlton's second album, Harmonium, was released on November 9, 2004. The first single was "White Houses".
Harmonium debuted at number 33 on the Billboard album charts, and both it and the single were considered commercial failures. Some blame this on the lack of promotion from the record label and poor public relations representation.
Harmonium was supposed to have been released in the UK on February 7, 2005. Although only two stores stock it, website retailer Amazon now lists it as a June release. Such confusion is a testament to the lack of record label dedication.
As of this writing, Carlton is currently dating Third Eye Blind's lead singer Stephan Jenkins and lives with him in San Francisco, California.
On April 17, 2005, Vanessa Carlton appeared on Punk'd where she was fooled by Ashton Kutcher during a rehersal for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.