Doll Avant is an innovative singer, songwriter, arranger, and producer with a 5-octave vocal range. She writes songs on both piano and guitar, and has a musical sound that pays tribute to R&B, funk, pop, soul, gospel, jazz, classical, and even rock. Doll attributes the development of her unique sound to a piece of advice she received from entertainment legend Quincy Jones. When she asked Mr. Jones, "What makes a great singer?" he replied, "Someone who has her own style." Take one listen to Doll's unforgettable sound and you will agree that she took Mr. Jones' advice to heart.
An Atlanta native, Doll is the daughter of two recording artists who traveled the country writing, producing, and performing cutting-edge gospel in the late 60s and 70s (they cut an album with Stax Records). Her earliest memories are the late-night sounds of her father's melodies floating up the stairs from the family's baby grand Baldwin piano.
Doll was 7 years old when her parents separated, and she immersed herself in a private world of music as a shield from the trauma. Neglect and abuse in her household left Doll hungry for love, and music became her only comfort and outlet. Everything from the sounds of hip-hop (Tribe Called Quest, EPMD, Run D.M.C.) to classic soul (Donnie Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire) to gospel (Edwin and Tramaine Hawkins, The Rance Allen Group) to pop (Cyndi Lauper, Prince, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson), formed her musical sensibilities.
By age 14, Doll had taught herself to play the piano by ear and had begun writing songs and poetry. At age 15, she joined and later became director of a Billboard Top 40 Gospel Group. This experience (singing with the likes of Dottie Peoples, Timothy Wright, and Gerald Thompson) sealed her roots in gospel. While still in high school at Frederick Douglass in Atlanta , Doll was trained to sing Italian and German arias; she also formed a female a capella group and began arranging vocals. Her greatest influence at the time was gospel star Damita Haddon & Adoration 'N Prayze (she later met Damita who encouraged her to pursue her dreams in music). This early a capella influence can still be heard in her harmonies and writing style. Doll attended Georgia 's All-State Chorus with members of Diddy's Grammy-winning group 112; she also grew up singing and writing with R&B super producer Jasper Cameron (Ciara, Christina Aguilera, Lloyd, J. Holiday). Those early days as a songwriter and in the studio with talented friends cemented her desire to make music for life. Before high school graduation, Doll had already been featured on CNN as a singer and actress. She was cast in the role of Diana Ross by award-winning Broadway director Kenny Leon. Her triple-threat talents also caught the eye of Oscar-winner Jane Fonda, who mentored Doll during her transition to college.
Doll turned down opportunities to model in New York and almost $1 million in scholarships, including multiple music scholarships, to attend Harvard University . During her college days, Doll earned the nickname "Songbird" by winning talent shows around Boston (accompanying herself on piano) and performing backgrounds vocals in studios for local producers, while performing jazz vocals and dancing in multiple productions. Doll performed as an actress during college as well, including the lead role of "Rose" in a Cambridge Theater production of August Wilson 's Fences. She also performed lead vocals, wrote/arranged music, and directed the Kuumba Singers, Harvard's oldest multi-cultural group, which performed for celebs including Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Halle Berry , and Nelson Mandela. Doll also wrote and recorded with R&B star Ryan Leslie during their Harvard days. Doll even showcased her talents as a writer during college; an excerpt from her first novel was praised by advisor Henry Louis Gates and chosen as a part of the syllabus for Harvard's only course on Afro-American Literature of the 20th Century.
Though music was never far, Doll walked away from everything-music, acting, writing, even an offered lead role in an off-Broadway production-to pursue another dream when she met her college sweetheart and tried to build with him the life and love she missed as a child. Doll continued to produce, write and perform music, but her relationship fell into cycles of neglect and abuse eerily similar to her childhood. Years of struggle and heartbreak left her with what Doll describes as "a lot of material for new songs" and a stronger desire than ever to return to her first love: music. Doll says: "I made the mistake a lot of women make: thinking they have to choose between their own dreams and their dreams of the perfect man." Because of her life experiences, most of Doll's lyrics give voice to the things women find themselves thinking and feeling but never brave enough to say. And her songs-with their raw truth and undeniable music that "moves you to either dance or cry"-are hitting home, not just with women, but with listeners from all walks of life.
Now, Doll is ready to unleash the music and let fans experience a blend of new sounds she likes to call Dollhouse Rock: an unforgettable mix of pop, blues, hip-hop, R&B, and acoustic soul. Doll is known as much for her energetic live performances as for her distinct vocals and unique songwriting, and you can hear all of her passion on tracks from the new album. Her music has earned the attention and praise of music industry greats she's worked with recently, including accolades from Grammy Award-winning producer Ron Magnus (Flashdance, Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney) and Grammy Award-winner Alvin Speights (Madonna, TLC, India.Arie). Doll is perfecting her sound on the new album with monster producer Uncle Charles (Rick Ross, Young Buck, Bun B); she is also preparing to return to acting and release her first book in 2010. Doll is a paradoxical blend of beauty and brains, tragedy and triumph, mystery and musicality that is finally hitting the world stage. Witness the Resurrection of a Songbird.