Vanessa Carlton was only 2 years old when she plinked out her first song on the piano, but it was ballet that she intended to make her calling.

Vanessa Carlton was only 2 years old when she plinked out her first song on the piano, but it was ballet that she intended to make her calling. At 17, however, after intensive study, she was frustrated and fed up and hung up her slippers—returning to music to work out her emotions. Producer/songwriter Peter Zizzo (Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez, Plus One) nurtured the youngster's talents, encouraged her songwriting, and in time hooked her up with a deal at Interscope. Now 21, Pennsylvania native Carlton is on the verge of dancing her way up the pop charts with enchanting first single "A Thousand Miles." It's the song's classical-tied piano hook that endures with urgency throughout the song that lends it spectacular charm, along with the artist's vulnerable vocal style, as she sings, "I'd walk a thousand miles if I could see you tonight." This one should pull in a broad spectrum of fans from both the mainstream and modern sides of top 40, as well as hip adults. Tori Amos fans take note; this girl is right up your alley. A truly auspicious opening.—CT