Brooke Fraser has charmed her way into the hearts of New Zealanders with a debut album of beautiful self-penned songs and her radiant attitude to life. The 21 year-old singer-songwriter now has her twinkling eye set firmly on the sights of her recently adopted home of Australia. Having seen her album What To Do With Daylight sell over 100,000 copies and seven times platinum, and breaking all airplay records over the Tasman with a string of four consecutive New Zealand number one hits, she is ready for the challenge of sharing her music with a new audience. Released in Australia in late 2004, What To Do With Daylight is closing in on 15,000 sales here due to phenomenal word of mouth interest. The first single “Lifeline” will be released in April. Brooke crossed the ditch permanently following her first successful tour of Australia last year supporting John Mayer. She has spent the past six months skipping backwards and forwards across the Tasman – headlining New Zealand concert halls in September, Australian main centres in November, and back to New Zealand beach resorts in January with Kiwi music icon Dave Dobbyn. No stranger to public performance, Brooke has been singing and playing piano to enraptured crowds since her primary school days in Wellington when she would organize the other students into putting on playground productions. Songwriting is her real craft though and, when Brooke signed with Sony in New Zealand as a tender 18 year-old, she already had eighty songs ready to whittle down into the eleven that make up her debut album which she recorded with American producer-drummer Brady Blade and a stellar cast of musicians including Spearhead bassist Carl Young. Brooke’s musical influences range from soulful crooners Marvin Gaye and James Taylor to new millennium artists including John Mayer and India Arie. Brooke says the common thread shared by these artists is the ability to write truly great songs. “I just love songs that are well crafted and well constructed, but still felt,” she says. While her peers were listening to Top 40, r&b and hip-hop, the teenage Brooke would “go home and listen to these mournful guitar slingers” like Taylor, Sheryl Crow and Sarah McLachlan. “It was important to hear people singing about stuff that mattered, real stuff. I wasn’t interested in hearing about shakin’ it all night long or getting it on all night on the dancefloor.” It would be easy for such a broadly talented artist to be pigeonholed as a musical prodigy who focuses on the serious side of music but Brooke’s relaxed personality shines through on many of her songs. And she is happy for her songs to occasionally highlight some youthful self-consciousness and occasional geekiness of her everyday life. The album’s contrast of haunting, soul-searching confessions and joyful pop songwriting reflects the different sides of Brooke’s personality – the young woman who has been involved with World Vision and has traveled to Cambodia with the charity; and the girl who spends hours hanging out with friends quoting endlessly from last year’s cult films Anchorman and Napoleon Dynamite. Brooke’s creativity is clearly the trait that sets her apart from other young musicians and this skill she attributes to a lifetime spent exploring the arts and communication. From as far back as she can remember Brooke’s schoolteacher mother Lynda encouraged her and her two brothers to ‘do’ rather than watch. “We were always making things after school – baking, drawing, reading or writing. We were always encouraged to express our feelings and opinions.” It’s that ability to share her personal outlook that shines through in all elements of her craft. The industry is convinced Brooke Fraser is an incredible talent who writes beyond her years and will surely have a long and stellar career – and her incredible success in New Zealand supports this view. But perhaps the clearest vision of her future career comes from the down-to-earth artist herself. “When the record deal process was happening, I was aware that I had this amazing opportunity that not everyone gets. But rather than feeling overwhelmed by it, it just felt like the most natural thing in the world. It felt really right, like I was walking in the plan for my life, and it was all meant to be. If there’s any confidence it just comes from that… I know I’m in the right place, and I know that every decision I try to make with integrity and with wisdom.”