Priscilla Ahn  

Singer-songwriter Priscilla Ahn embarked upon a career the old-fashioned way: she packed her belongings in a car—“two guitars, clothes, and some other junk I really didn't need to bring”—and left her Pennsylvania home for L.A. That she found steady gigs, a supportive circle of fellow artists and a record deal in a relatively short period of time—give or take several months of bad waitressing jobs—will come as no surprise after a single listen to “Dream,” the lilting opening track of A Good Day, her full-length debut on Blue Note Records. Ahn artfully balances youthful whimsy and grown-up sophistication, playing guitar and singing in a warm, welcoming, and stunningly self-assured voice.

While her peers angle to be MySpace superstars or laptop geniuses, Ahn is impressively old-school. She picked up the guitar at age 14, urged to do so by her classic rock-loving dad, but truly inspired once she heard a guy in her high school play. By the time she was 16, she was looking for the nearest open-mic night, which happened to be at a local Borders Book Store. Getting a driver’s license the following year meant she could do even more gigs 90 minutes away in Philadelphia.

Ahn had considered pursuing music in college, but a teacher who oversaw her audition at a state school offered her insights perhaps even more valuable than further study. As Ahn recalls, “The music professor there really got me. He knew that I played guitar and wrote songs and called me up at home and said, ‘Maybe you should think about not going to school right now and pursuing songwriting as a career. After school, your whole life might be so different and you may not have that opportunity again.’ I really thought about it and finally took his advice. And it changed my life.”

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