Multi-platinum recording star Vanessa Carlton’s getting critical acclaim for a record she collaborated on with Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind — who was her boyfriend but isn’t now. That sounds like a bittersweet victory, to say the least, but she insists it’s not like that. “We’re still friends and so very proud of this record because it’s our child â€¦ our great offspring,” says Carlton of her new “Heroes and Thieves” album.
She adds, “I think this record was the whole reason we were together in the first place. In some ways, it was like the music was always most important, and in the end, that’s probably why we evolved into being friends.”
The singer/songwriter/pianist says The Inc./Universal Motown Records’ release is her most introspective work yet. “I’m 27 now, and the past year for me has brought up a lot of questions that come from evolving into a real woman — and the theme of the album is deciphering the heroes from the thieves in a very black-and -hite way: What kind of life do I want to lead and carve out for myself? What kind of characters do I want to surround myself with? It’s every bit about the struggle for finding peace — but I think it’s a struggle we’re all in forever.”
She adds, “I call my songs chapters, and the last chapter, ‘More than This,’ talks about: What if we could declare right now that I don’t need any more than I have — the person sitting next to me, the shoes on my feet, my dog, my career? If I just kind of declare that, in theory, I would experience this bliss. â€¦ Every song on the album involves those kinds of things.”
Carlton just headed out on a limited four-week promo tour. She plans to “shoot the video for the second single ‘Hands on Me’ in December, then next year, I’ll take the band out and do a bigger tour.”
ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass says he might be retired from the music business, but he’s still singing his song. “Thank goodness I sing what I want where I want,” says the soul singer, who became a sex symbol in the ’70s and ’80s with such hits as “Turn Off the Lights,” “Close the Door” and “Feel the Fire” before being partially paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident in 1982. He established the nonprofit Teddy Pendergrass Alliance for Spinal Cord Injury in ’87, and last year he formed a partnership with the National Spinal Cord Injury Association. “I’m very busy with a lot of projects, and there’s nothing I need to prove at this point. I did my last proving in 2001, when I proved I could still tour at the same level as pre-injury. At this point in my life, I’m asking, ‘What else can Teddy do of service with all the knowledge I’ve attained?’ That’s why I’m so passionate about my organization and helping others (with spinal cord injuries) live their dreams.” For more info, go to www.teddypendergrassalliance.org.
This year marks 35 years since his recording debut with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and 30 years since he went solo. A special two-disc CD, “The Essential Teddy Pendergrass,” is being released as part of Sony BMG Music’s historic licensing agreement to release Philadelphia International Records’ complete catalog from the hit factory founded by legendary producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff that boasted such artists as Lou Rawls, Patti LaBelle and The O’Jays. “It’s more than a compilation,” he says of the CD that also includes his ’90s hits “Joy” and “Hold Me.” “It’s a real story book of my life that goes back to pre- and post-accident. When you look at stuff in totality like that you can really see how wide, how vast, how broad an artist’s work is.”
THE BIG SCREEN SCENE: Armand Assante goes from Mafioso boss in the recently released “American Gangster” to playing a priest, of sorts, in the currently shooting indie film “La Linea” starring Andy Garcia and Ray Liotta. “He’s actually more like an intelligence operative disguised as a priest,” says Assante. “I’m only in two or three scenes, but I’m kind of excited to be a part of it. I worked with the writer R. Ellis Frazier before, on a film I made called ‘Confessions of a Pit Fighter,’ and I found him to be a compelling storyteller. ‘La Linea’ is a fantastic script. It’s about the possibility of how someone will set out to be a terrorist through the Mexican drug routes. It’s all very smart, a smart cast, very charged.”
HIDDEN TALENTS: “Eureka’s” teen hottie Jordan Hinson says she’ll be pursuing her secret passion while not in production on the Sci-Fi channel hit. “I’m really into music, and I’ve been writing lyrics since I was 7,” says the 16-year-old. “I love singing, and I love playing guitar, so hopefully I’ll eventually be able to do an album.” Hinson says she hasn’t let her “Eureka” gang know about her singing aspirations. “I don’t really tell them a lot. I guess ’cause being an actor, you never know how good a singer or guitar player you are, so it’s sort of figuring yourself out before you actually start telling a lot of people. It’s really strange because in the acting world, you can be so sure of yourself and what you want to do, but when you sing, it’s like, ‘Oh, am I good? Am I this, am I that?’ And no matter how much people tell you, it’s never enough.”
With reports by Stephanie DuBois and Emily Fortune Feimster.