In more ways than one, being grounded continues to be an important part of teenage singer-songwriter, Cheyenne Kimball's life.
When she was eight, she wrote her first song - entitled "All I Want Is You" - after being sent to her room for saying something mean to her older sister. "I remember writing it and hoping it would get me out of trouble," she recalls. "I haven't stopped writing songs or getting into trouble since."
Growing up in Frisco, Texas in a tight-knit family, Cheyenne's natural music ability was harnessed to her determined personality. When she was nine she entered herself into a talent night at a club without her parent's permission. "My mom and dad weren't happy, but in the end they figured it might be a good thing because if I got on stage and hated it, I would stop asking for permission to busk on street corners in town."
Much to her parent's surprise, Cheyenne blossomed under the spotlight. "I turned and looked at my husband and we both knew that she was born for this," says Cheyenne's mother and co-manager, Shannon. "Since then our biggest priority has been keeping her emotionally grounded and giving her the time she needs to mature as a person and an artist. She's grown up so fast, but I don't think it's ever fast enough when you're a teenager."
By the time Cheyenne was 12 she had developed into a musical prodigy, writing nearly 200 songs and performing anywhere her mother would drive her. The same year, in 2003, Cheyenne gained national attention when she won the title of "America's Most Talented Kid" on the NBC show. Later that year, Sony/Epic Records signed her to a multi-record deal.
For more than three years after signing with Epic Records, Cheyenne nurtured her passion for songwriting by traveling to different cities to work with and learn from some of rock's most successful songsmiths. "I feel like I just graduated from songwriting school so maybe this album is my diploma," Cheyenne says of her 12-song debut, The Day Has Come. "I hear a lot of people say that albums are like snapshots in time, but I think my album feels more like a movie because I see myself growing up in these songs."
Driven by distorted guitars and the shout-along refrain, "Nothing's gonna stop me anyway," Cheyenne says the first single, "Hanging On," became her anthem in the studio. "It's a song about following your dreams and never letting things stand in your way; basically what I've been doing all my life," she says. "The song was really important to me because it kept reminding me to be patient, which is something that I'm not very good at."
The album's mix of insistent rock, acoustic roots jangle and bluesy tones reveal Cheyenne's left-handed guitar prowess while her natural vocal delivery takes center stage on tender ballads such as "Four Walls." The poignant track is colored by Cheyenne's very real feelings of helplessness. "My dad almost died from a serious infection when I was away recording that song," she recalls. "The day I was flying home to see him in the hospital, I went into the studio and sang what's on the record. What you hear on that song is not a performance; the emotion is coming from a very real and honest place."
But not all of Cheyenne's experiences in the studio were as emotionally draining. One of the happiest times of her life was spending six months recording in California with bassist Brad Smith and guitarist Christopher Thorn - both former members of Cheyenne's favorite band, Blind Melon. It was the quintet's self-titled debut that first inspired a seven-year old Cheyenne to pick up a guitar. "I remember very clearly the first time I heard 'No Rain.' It came on the radio - it had to be a few years after the record was out - and I was hooked," she says. "I just had to learn how to make those sounds. A friend gave me a guitar a few months later and I was on my way."
The sessions with Smith and Thorn, Cheyenne says, became a turning point for her songwriting. "When I was working on 'Everything To Lose' with the guys, I started to feel more confident than I ever had," she recalls. "I can never thank them enough for helping me open up as a songwriter and teaching me how to let the music flow organically. I cried the day I left their studio because it felt like I was leaving home."
The biggest challenge of making The Day Has Come, Cheyenne says, was choosing 12 songs from the more than 50 she'd recorded. "I didn't stop writing for three years because the songs were getting better and better," she says. "I wanted to make this album as good as it could be and I'm truly thankful that Epic gave me the time to develop as an artist and allowed me to make the record I wanted to make."
After finishing The Day Has Come this spring, Cheyenne and her family left behind their longtime home in Frisco and moved to Los Angeles to make it easier for Cheyenne to rehearse for her summer tour. "Everyone in my family has always been supportive of what I do," she says. "The funny thing is a lot of people assume that my parents are the ones pushing me to make music. The truth is that I'm the one dragging them along on this crazy ride. They'd much rather have a normal life, but it doesn't look like that's in the cards."
To capture the surreal reality behind Cheyenne's drive to succeed as a singer and songwriter, MTV cameras began documenting her life for a program called, "Cheyenne." "It's a little awkward to know that the world is going to see you and your mom argue about stupid things and watch me get grounded...again," she says laughing. "But it's cool that people will also get to see how much this family loves each other too."
The series opens as the Kimball family prepares to relocate to L.A. "I'd been so busy writing and recording that I didn't have time to think about what it really meant to leave home," Cheyenne says. "When the day finally came it caught me off guard emotionally. All the dreams I'd been working toward my whole life were coming true. All the hard work and patience were finally paying off. Driving around town with my sister for the last time, the title of the album - The Day Has Come - took on a very real meaning for me."
--- from the official Cheyenne Kimball website