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Toby Lightman


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Photos @ MTV.com


Debut: Little Things

Release: 03/30/2004

Label: Lava Records


01. Leave It Inside

02. Devils And Angels

03. Coming Back In

04. Frightened

05. River, The

06. Voices

07. Little Thing

08. Front Row

09. Everyday

10. Is This Right

11. Don't Wanna Know

12. Running Away


There’s a world of difference between pop stars who sing other people’s songs, and female singer/songwriters who truly touch your soul. With a voice that’s powerful, passionate, endlessly expressive, and full of contagious energy, Toby Lightman is just that type of artist—one who will undoubtedly surprise and captivate those who listen to her Lava Records debut, Little Things.

Toby’s deeply soulful rock groove, which can best be described as blending elements of Sheryl Crow and Lauryn Hill, has earned her favorable comparisons from popular breakthrough artists like Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige to classic singer/songwriters such as Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt. Toby’s unique vocal style seamlessly incorporates a broad range of influences. “Besides my rock and soul influences, I’m into a lot of jazz singers like Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald,” Toby offers. “I loved the way these singers could scat, or riff, and I found myself trying to do that with my own voice. That may be why some people think my songs have an R&B element in them.”

...Throughout college at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, I got into a lot of hip-hop and R&B like Mary J. Blige, Fugees and The Roots, and became curious to see how I could combine the soulful, classic rock and hip-hop that I loved into in my own style.”

Toby actually discovered her singing voice by accident. “In high school, a friend of mine suggested we enroll in a vocal workshop class so we could just fool around, sing and hang out,” she recalls. “What ended up happening, however, was that the teacher noticed I had some talent and kept encouraging me to audition for more advanced choral groups. I kept getting accepted and that’s when I realized, ‘Okay, maybe I can sing.’” Inspired by her all time favorite singer/songwriter, Stevie Wonder, Toby began writing her own songs in college. “He had these songs just pouring out of him and I loved the texture of his voice. I hadn’t attempted to write my own material up to that point, because I wasn’t sure I could do it, and I had a very low tolerance for sitting still and trying to write. The more I got into Stevie Wonder, the more inspired I felt to write songs and let my own inner thoughts come out.”

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Interview: Toby Lightman

TeenSpot.com had the chance to interview aspiring new singer/songwriter Toby Lightman. Toby has her debut CD out on Lava Records, titled, 'Little Things' which is scheduled for release on March 30th. The album's first single "Devils & Angels" is already off to an astounding start and rising on the charts.

TeenSpot.com: Tell us a little bit about yourself; how did you get your start?

Toby Lightman: Like musically?

TS: Yes.

TL: I just kind of played in a lot of bands and worked on my style with a few people (and myself). I formed together and captured what I was trying to do. Vented out. Got a manager, got a producer, and got my record deal!

TS: For someone who hasn't heard your music before, how would you explain your unique sound?

TL: I would describe it as Rock R&B because it is not one thing or the other. It has elements of rock music, but also urban. You know, I like hip-hop, R&B. I like old soul-type music.

TS: Which song do you feel is your best work?

TL: I would say "Everyday."

TS: Is that also your favorite song?

TL: Well, I like them all, but I really like that song now.

TS: What are some major influences to your music?

TL: I would say like Stevie Wonder--I don't necessarily sound like this people, but I like to listen to them, their writing--Black Crows; I just like everything. I like a lot of different hex music. Not all of the things are the same that I listen to.

TS: Have you ever toured before?

TL: I have. I toured with a band from L.A. for a month and Howie Day for a month.

TS: What is life like on the road?

TL: It's interesting. I mean, it's not easy. I like to be home. That is the kind of person that I am, but you know, you gotta do what you gotta and as long as there is an end in sight, it's not so bad.

TS: What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you while you were touring?

TL: I haven't had that many crazy things happen. I think for the most part it's been pretty amazing to see people's reactions. People will come over to me and tell me how much they like it. People like making me t-shirts and stuff like that. I think that is pretty crazy.

TS: Do you ever get nervous before stepping on stage?

TL: Yeah, every time!

TS: Every time?

TL: Mmmmhmmm! I can't really talk to anybody before I play.

TS: Are you one of those people who just has to be alone before a performance?

TL: I just need to be sitting there, relaxing, and not talking to anyone. Just hanging out and not doing anything.

TS: Even before your CD is even out, your single "Devils and Angels" is getting a lot of buzz. That's gotta be pretty exciting.

TL: Yeah! I personally haven't heard it on the radio yet, but that's what I hear!

TS: You have your debut CD out March 30th, titled "Little Things." What can we expect from this CD?

TL: You can just expect, you know, a bunch of music! It's just kind of what I write. If you like the ideas that I have, it should be something that you enjoy!

TS: I've read you actually write your own lyrics, which is nice to see in this day of pop-stardom. Lyrically, do the songs on your CD have a general theme or idea?

TL: No, I think that it's really dependant on the music. When I come up with something to play, it puts me in a mood to talk about a specific thing or have a song be about something or another. It's hard not to write songs about relations. I like to write about a lot of different things. I don't like to write about the same thing.

TS: Are you currently in a relationship?

TL: Mmmmmmm, I don't want to answer that!

TS: Do you have any words of advice for aspiring young singers?

TL: To just get out there and keep doing it. You know, it will happen if it is supposed to happen.

TS: When did you first know that music was your thing?

TL: I don't remember the original day, but I think that it's just like certain things that I've done that made me realize that I wanted to do this. I sang at my high school graduation and I think that was probably the first time I started to think about it seriously, but I didn't really pursue it until I graduated from college.

TS: What is your favorite website on the Internet?

TL: UGO, I don't know!


TL: Haha, I don't really have a favorite website. I'm not really on the web that much. I just check my email and then I'm done!

TS: What are your views on internet music file sharing?

TL: It's modern times, it's technology. I don't really mind people sharing files as long as they can still go out and buy it. I personally like buying my music. That's just me though.

TS: Yeah, that iTunes thing is pretty cool.

TL: Yeah! I haven't done it, but I think that is a cool concept, definitely.

TS: Is there anything else you'd like to say to the teenagers reading this interview?

TL: My main thing was to finish school and then pursue things that I wanted to pursue. That is what I think everyone should do.

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