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Daphne Willis: All In The Family

Daphne Willis' new album is titled <em>Because I Can</em>.
Lauren Dukoff
Daphne Willis' new album is titled Because I Can.

Daphne Willis seems to be on the verge of something big. Her debut album, What to Say, helped her build critical and commercial momentum last year. She moved from Chicago to Nashville. She surrounded herself with new talent. She began to write more of her own music. And, this spring, Willis put out her second album, Because I Can.

Willis tells Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon that she was discovered in a moment of serendipity. The head of her current label, Vanguard Records, was on an airplane when his iPod died, prompting him to plug his headphones in to the nearest armrest.

"One of my songs was playing," Willis says. "He went into the pamphlet and saw I was unsigned, and that's how it started. From there, it kind of all happened really quick."

Willis grew up steeped in both the art and the business of music: Her mother studied vocal performance at the University of Texas, while her father was an engineering major who went on to work at Sony BMG for more than 30 years. Her older brother is also musically inclined.

"My parents would rock us out to Elvis Costello and Stevie Wonder and Ella Fitzgerald and all the great, classic songwriters and vocalists," Willis says. "I kind of grew up surrounded in that world."

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