The daughter of a pilot and a school music teacher with Scandinavian/Russian Jewish/Native American ancestry, Vanessa Carlton was involved in music from an early age (her uncle Larry Carlton is a well-known jazz guitarist). She learned piano as a child and at 14 won a place at the School of American Ballet, but at 18 abandoned dancing to concentrate on a music career. Studying at Columbia University by day Carlton started playing piano in Manhattan bars by night, eventually recording some demos and being signed by the famous producer Jimmy Iovine. After several false starts, she struck it big with the A Thousand Miles single, a Top 5 US hit in 2002, leading to her debut album Be Not Nobody, which included further hits Ordinary Day and Pretty Baby. She also worked with Counting Crows and Zucchero before her second album Harmonium, caused controversy with the sexual innuendo of her lyrics to the single White Houses. Third album Heroes & Thieves came out in 2006 followed by Rabbits On The Run in 2010.