Casey Stratton tasted major-label success when "Standing at the Edge" (Sony Classical) debuted in 2004, which already earned praise from Billboard.

Casey Stratton tasted major-label success when "Standing at the Edge" (Sony Classical) debuted in 2004, which already earned praise from Billboard. The set has gone on to sell 9,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The edgy, alternative pop artist with the soaring voice felt the record wasn't supported in the wake of the Sony-BMG merger and requested release from his contract.

Since then, Stratton has embraced the independent route. The pianist wrote, performed every instrument, produced and mixed subsequent albums "Divide" (2005), "The Crossing" (2007) and, just last month, "Orbit," which was self-released on his Sleeping Pill Music label. Combined with what's been registered with SoundScan, he's moved 1,500 units on his own. He's developing his audience (which includes fans in Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany) through the Internet, word-of-mouth and touring.

Stratton will embark on a self-financed nationwide trek of clubs (most likely in late April) in such major markets as New York, Boston and Detroit. "Orbit" is available digitally through Stratton's Web site and for a limited time its purchase will act as a pre-order of the physical CD that will also arrive in spring.

"Most of my audience is comprised of people who are willing to really look inside themselves and be honest about how they feel or who they are," Stratton says. "Many people I meet or get e-mails from have been through some dark times, and they connect to my music because of that. I tend to explore those darker places most of the time. It's my particular niche, and I'm comfortable with that."