Surrender Dorothy came together with the help of world-class musicians: guitarist Adam Rogers (Norah Jones), bassist Jack Daley (Joss Stone, Lenny Kravitz) and drummer Nir Z (John Mayer). Ryan Freeland (Aimee Mann, Christina Aguilera), one of the most in-demand engineers today, lent assistance at his studio in Culver City, California. And in the late summer of 2004, after exploring numerous creative options, Alana locked arms with Telarc International, the 27-year-old full-service music company/distributor based in Cleveland, Ohio. With Telarc�s help, Tigress Records strives to combine the best �traditional� marketing plans with cutting-edge �guerilla promotion� strategies.
Life outside the box is nothing new for Alana. The daughter of a black father (jazz pianist Walter Davis, Jr.) and a white mother (jazz singer Anamari), she says she never identified with any one particular racial group when she was growing up in New York City�s storied Greenwich Village neighborhood. �I�m an individual,� she says, �which makes me a part of both cultures and neither at the same time. I figure I exist as an eraser for the lines that are drawn between the races.� Her music is very much an extension of this personal philosophy.
Armed with little money but plenty of academic aptitude, she attended Hunter College Elementary and High School in Manhattan�s upper East Side. Her much wealthier classmates, who regarded her as the girl with wild and frizzy hair from the �crazy� Greenwich Village, often kept her at a distance (Alana lived with her mother in a one-bedroom apartment, a 600-square-foot dwelling that was a far cry from the luxury condos and lavish estates that her schoolmates called home).
At 18, she picked up the guitar for the first time. Although she had found release in writing poetry for years, this was the first time she set any of her written work to music. Alana made a few demos that landed in the hands of recording engineer Ed Tuton. Shortly thereafter, she signed a record deal with Elektra Records.
Entertainment Weekly called Alana �the most promising newcomer of 1998� and provided an �A-� review of Alana�s debut album, Blame It on Me (Elektra). TIME magazine declared Alana �a major new talent� and VH1 named her their very first �Inside Track Artist�.
�32 Flavors,� the single from Blame It on Me, became an instant anthem for people who didn�t exactly fit into the mainstream. Kids and older people alike latched on to the song�s emotionally charged lyrics about defying preconceptions, being yourself and taking chances in life. The song became a Top 40 hit, as did the follow-up single, �Crazy,� an upbeat track that encouraged people to think outside the box and be comfortable in their own skin.
But just as the media were lauding her early efforts and with her fan base growing exponentially, the machinations of the music industry were already clouding her vision.
Creative direction on her sophomore album, Fortune Cookies, became a point of contention between Alana and her former label, Elektra. Alana wanted to take the next evolutionary step in her artistic process while Elektra felt strongly that Alana�s music should move in an �R&B� direction. Unwilling to compromise on her artistic integrity, Alana remained steadfast in her artistic vision and released Fortune Cookies shortly after 9/11. The Neptunes produced the track �Bye Bye� on the album. Disappointed that Alana didn�t follow their artistic cues, Elektra failed to promote Fortune Cookies and Alana demanded to be released from her contract in 2002.
Rather than deny her own identity and breach the connection she�d established with hundreds of thousands of fans, Alana was determined to follow her passion� so determined, in fact, that she was willing to risk everything by walking away from her major label contract for the sake of a new beginning that would enable her to finally be who she is.
In 2003, Sony and advertising agency Young & Rubicam chose Alana to be the voice of their Super Bowl commercial promoting a Sony camcorder, which aired to an audience of 120 million. The commercial debuted Alana�s new single, �Carry On�, the Crosby, Stills and Nash classic. Sony�s commercial was a forward thinking campaign as it provided a website address at the conclusion of the commercial to download Alana�s single.
With a growing fan base as a result of the Super Bowl exposure combined with the deeply loyal base that Elektra had helped build, the time came for Alana to record a new album. Alana decided to fund the recording by herself and then find the right partner. �I felt really fortunate. Sure, I mean here I was in a position to record the album I�ve always dreamed of.� In some ways, Alana feels that she is the fortunate beneficiary of a five year marketing campaign by Elektra.
After searching for answers, the result is Surrender Dorothy, the album that Alana is most proud of. �I just needed to get back to that sense of confidence and that sense of rightness about making music, which I have always thought, since I was very young, was mine,� she says. �It�s a gift to be given an opportunity to have a career in this business, but then it�s also a kind of curse to not be able to do what your natural thing is. That�s why I wanted to make music in the first place I could feel that it could take me somewhere.�