Sometimes a single song can make all the difference. Take Auckland, New Zealand-bred singer Ginny Blackmore and her hard-won breakthrough single, "Bones," for instance.
As a teen, she was so involved in musical theater, her high school principal actually urged her to drop out and pursue composing. Surprisingly, her parents agreed.
"So I worked 9 to 5, five days a week on my music and treated it very seriously. I used just a microphone, keyboard and computer, and I was making my own beats, writing songs and dreaming of one day getting to America," she says.
It wasn't as easy as she had imagined. First, Blackmore — who plays Alice Radio's (KLLC, 97.3 FM) free Summerthing in Golden Gate Park on Sunday — joined a street-dance crew and vocal group called Jireh.
By 19, she was ready to move to the U.S., but couldn't get a visa. So she jetted to London.
"Right after that, I found management and signed my publishing deal.
"So I started to song-write for other people really quickly."
She began placing originals with Adam Lambert and Christina Aguilera, then finally had the clout — and connections — to permanently relocate to Los Angeles.
Blackmore remembers the depressing California night when "Bones" occurred to her. She had been in town for months, her love life was a shambles, and she was alone in her echo-y concrete-walled apartment.
"It was a full moon, and I get really crazy and emotional on a full moon. I was drinking red wine and I felt a song coming on," she says.
A producer pal sent her a beat that matched her dark mood. So she dried her tears, chucked the wine down the sink, and by sunrise had a skeletal ballad.
The more Blackmore listened to "Bones'" brutally frank lyrics like "It sucks being a woman / In love with an unkind man," the more special it seemed.
"I realized that I had a body of work, and that I'd hit on that sound that I'd been waiting for my whole life," she says. So she began shopping herself to labels instead of her music; within a week, she signed with Epic.
The test? Singing "Bones" alone in Epic executive L.A. Reid's office, which terrified her. After one lackluster take, Reid offered her another, which she sang so passionately, staffers were moved to tears. Lawyers drew up her contract that night.
The original apartment version of "Bones" was released as a single, and a forthcoming debut album features experiments like the seven-minute R&B jam "Put Your Name on it" and some ethereal electronica in "Over the Moon."
Blackmore says the eclectic songs have one thing in common: "A sound that's uniquely Ginny."