Vanessa Lee Carlton is an American singer-songwriter and pianist. Carlton was born in Milford, Pennsylvania to Ed Carlton, a pilot, and Heidi, a pianist and school music teacher. She has two younger siblings, a sister, Gwen and a brother, Edmund. Her uncle, Larry Carlton, is a jazz guitarist. Her ancestry is half Scandinavian and half Russian. Her interest in music began at an early age; after returning from Disneyland at the age of two, she played “It’s a Small World” on the piano. Her mother then began to tutor her on the piano.
One of her first demo tapes consisted of songs such as Little Mary. It contains the original version of Ordinary day, which has the lyrics of “if we walk now we will divide and conquer this land” in place of the released version lyrics which read “don’t you see your dreams lie in the palm of your hand?” It also contains the original version of the songs Twilight, Burden, and Faces. She also has a cover of Where the Streets Have No Name by U2, which can only be found on the Japanese edition of Harmonium.