Vanessa Lee Carlton was born the first of three children to Ed and Heidi Carlton, in Milford, Pennsylvania, where she was raised. Exposed to classical music by her mother from an early age, Vanessa began playing piano while also nurturing her love for ballet, which she studied at the School of American Ballet in New York City. Upon graduation, Miss Carlton decided to forsake ballet and hone her skills as a singer, songwriter and performer by performing at nightclubs throughout Manhattan, where she also lived and waitressed. Signed to A&A Records in 2001, she released her debut album, Be Not Nobody, the following April, with the debut single, "A Thousand Miles," becoming a Top Five hit in the U.S. (it would later be used in the film White Chicks). Her sophomore effort, 2004's Harmonium, was a commercial disappointment, and she left A&M Records for The Inc. Records in 2006. Her third album, and first for The Inc., will be released in October 2007 under the title Heroes and Thieves.