Elvis Presley was one of the first targets of hype-speak; e.g., “hottest new star in the universe.” Several decades later, similar phrases whiz by like so much white noise. More than a few scene savants, however, currently insist that 23-year old Canadian newcomer Jane Child is that hot.

Child was only five when her musician parents began teaching her voice, piano, violin and music theory. At 12, she was teaching, too. Rock-and–roll music was verboten, “not for moral reasons but for musical ones—my folks didn’t want anything to blunt my developing musical subtlety.” But on her bedroom radio at night, she would hunt down R&B stations beaming from Buffalo, New York: Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind and Fire quietly led her astray.

When she was 15, Child took a summer job playing keyboards for a traveling local rock band. At summer’s end, she did not get off the bus. “That amazing energy exchange” lured her off the pathway to a concert-pianist career.

Child still wonders at her relatively smooth ascent to stardom. To make a long fairy tale short. A Hamilton, Ontario studio where she sang commercial jingles gave her recording time to make demos of her original songs. A “Colonel Parker type” passed them along to his partner in New York, where Jane relocated in 1988. The recording deal the partners put together, says Child, “was small, and there was no artistic control. So I said no, which put me in breach of contract to those guys. I headed to L.A. in ’89.” She laughs. “There I was in L.A., - with no car!”

Also no management, no insider pals and none of the other stuff usually needed to smuggle demos into the major labels. But Child’s tapes got around anyway.

“Meanwhile, I couldn’t work legally in the States. I looked like I do now—imagine me working at a Winchell’s Donuts!” Money was scarce, but interested record companies provided. “One label would pay my rent one month and another the next.” With that kind of support, it wasn’t surprising when Warner Bros. gave her creative control of her first self-titled project.

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