The year was 2002. Jeans were low cut, phones were Nokia “bricks,” the United States was trying to heal post 9/11, and the song playing on every radio station was “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton. Twenty years ago, the worldwide smash was released and with its opening piano sequence – with notes falling like a steady rain – music lovers everywhere were smitten.

“Arguably the most easily identifiable first three seconds to a song of the last two decades, and quite possibly the most instantaneously recognizable piano riff ever,” said Rolling Stone.

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“And I need you, and I miss you,” Carlton sang in a simple, relatable yearning that didn’t feel insincere or immature. The tune reached the top five on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for several Grammy Awards, including "Record of the Year," "Song of the Year," and "Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)."

The album itself, “Be Not Nobody,” was Carlton’s debut and went certified Platinum. After its release in April 2002, it went on to sell more than two million copies worldwide. By the end of the year, Carlton was headlining her own tour in the United States with Europe following in 2003. Other notable tracks from the album include “Ordinary Day” and “Pretty Baby.”

Vanessa Carlton’s interest in music began at an early age. At two years old, she went to Disneyland with her family and upon returning home played “It’s a Small World” on the piano. Her mother, a pianist and music teacher, began tutoring her, and by the time Carlton graduated high school she was performing regularly in nightclubs in her town.

Since her debut album, Carlton has released five more albums. “Harmonium” was released in 2004 and included the coming-of-age hit “White Houses.” “Heroes and Thieves” was released in 2006 with “Nolita Fairytale” as its first single, which peaked at number 26 on Billboard's Adult Top 40 Tracks chart. “Rabbits on the Run,” “Liberman,” and “Love is an Art” followed.

In 2019, Carlton made her Broadway debut starring as Carole King in the musical “Beautiful.” She recently moved to Rhode Island with her husband and daughter and travels intermittently to Nashville for songwriting sessions.