"I'm definitely an old soul when it comes to music," she says. I grew up only listening to all those records my dad would play in the house, from Queen to Paul McCartney to Sting. My dad used to play Billy Joel songs to put me to sleep. Asked what 21st century artists she listens to, she reels off Mika, Coldplay, Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys, and John Mayer--basically, all the contemporary artists who are as steeped in the great music of the `70s as she is.
Kaprelian has a classic story of being discovered more or less at random. Actually, she's got two or three of those stories. Her first discovery came at age 15, when a talent scout tapped her on the shoulder at her local mall after watching her sing with a school group for a fundraising event. One contact led to another until, right as she was about to go off to UC Berkeley at age 18, she was instead personally signed to a major label by one of the world's most famous record company chiefs.
That particular fairy tale was not her destiny. That would-be debut album was scrapped and Kaprelian and her former label parted ways. Then, in odds akin to being hit by lightning twice, she got discovered more or less off the street again.
Mindful that some other singers had broken through with covers, Kaprelian's producer suggested that she film herself doing a solo cover of OneRepublic's "Apologize" to post on YouTube. "He said, `You've always liked Ryan's style of writing, and it's piano-based. What have you got to lose?' Soon after, she learned OneRepublic was sponsoring a contest to see who could do the best cover of "Apologize," so she uploaded it. Weeks later, she was getting twin messages from people at Interscope - one informing her that she'd won the contest, and another inviting her to come in for a meeting.
And here's where she really rolled a seven: "Honestly, I feel so lucky, because Interscope let me make the record I wanted to make. My A&R guy was like, `Do what you want. I trust you.'" The rewards of that mutual faith are abundant.
The ten songs on Kaprelian's debut album are full of dashed hopes, fierce renewal, and proud vulnerability. The singer expects to bond with a younger audience, but has already been surprised at how her music clicks with listeners of a certain age, too--which maybe should be no surprise at all, given its lyrical depth and roots in rock classicism. By the end of the album, listeners both young and old are certain to feel the emotional connection. Or, as she said, "Spend a couple hours and we're all best friends." How was it that a piano woman from another generation once put it? Oh yeah: You've got a BFF.