Gabrielle Aplin begins music career with a bang 

click to enlarge Gabrielle Aplin
  • courtesy photo
  • Gabrielle Aplin, who left high school to pursue music, appears in The City this week.
Emotive singer-songwriter Gabrielle Aplin says the secret to her success is that no one ever bothered to tell her no.

“I don’t really remember any scarring moments from when I was younger that made me scared of doing stuff. And I don’t remember anyone telling me not to do something, so I just got on with it. I felt very free, really,” says the unusually mature 21-year-old musician, who plays from her chart-topping 2013 debut, “English Rain,” in The City this week.

Growing up in a rustic English hamlet, the child of progressive-minded parents, Aplin was introduced in childhood to classic folksingers such as Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Nick Drake and John Martyn.

But by the time she picked up piano and guitar at age 11, she had gravitated more toward Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and Carole King, whose definitive “Tapestry” became a creative touchstone for her. “She just wrote really good songs, and I loved her production, the instruments she used and her arrangements,” says Aplin, a born archivist.

Soon, she discovered that the poems and short stories she had been writing meshed well with the keyboard and six-string melodies she was composing simultaneously.

That’s when she informed her folks that she had grown bored with high school and wanted to drop out to take a course in album producing.

“I was getting good grades, but I suddenly thought, ‘I just don’t want to do this anymore,’” she says. “And my parents were like, ‘All right. That’s fine.’ They knew that I would do OK, regardless.”

Aplin thrived at City of Bath College, and she participated in its in-house label, BA1 Records. She began posting performances on YouTube — covers plus lissome originals like “Home,” included on “English Rain.”

The online reaction was so overwhelming, she formed her own imprint, Never Fade Records, and self-issued three EPs before she was snapped up by Parlophone-Warners. Again, nobody counseled her against it.

“I just wanted to release my own music, so I created this entity, not even realizing what I was doing,” the go-getter says. “And then it started generating money. But when I signed to Parlophone, I put the money I was generating into other artists, like Hannah Grace. So I have a label, but I didn’t really intend on it.”

Recently, Aplin toured Japan, then Australia and New Zealand, opening arena dates for Ed Sheeran. She was stunned when fans sang along with every word. “So musically, I don’t think there’s anything I regret or wish I didn’t do,” she says. “If I’d done anything differently, I certainly wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in now!”


Gabrielle Aplin

Where: Brick and Mortar Music Hall, 1710 Mission St., S.F.

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $13 to $15

Contact: (415) 800-8782,

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Tom Lanham

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