Toby Lightman’s new independently released album, “Let Go” follows her two Atlantic Records releases, 2004's "Little Things" and 2006's "Bird On A Wire", titled after her late uncle’s 1969 LP. She's toured the country extensively, having appeared with such artists as Rob Thomas, Jewel, James Blunt, Gavin DeGraw, and on one memorable evening, Prince. Toby’s national TV performances include the Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, NBC's Today Show, and CBS' Second Cup, among many others. She can currently be heard singing the theme song for NASCAR on Fox broadcasts.
Growing up outside of Philadelphia, Lightman went her own way when it came to music, listening to hip-hop and rock, but also falling in love with Stevie Wonder and devouring the Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James records in her father’s oldies-dominated collection. Encouraged by her high school music teacher, Toby started to train her voice by working in various choral groups. She made her solo debut at graduation, cutting loose on Paul Simon’s neo-gospel anthem “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and bringing some in the audience to tears. When she returned from her freshman year at the University of Wisconsin, where she was studying broadcasting, “I started going to jazz clubs in Philadelphia and singing the only two songs I knew,” she says with a self-mocking laugh.
While in college, Toby took what she learned from being classically trained on the violin as a child, and taught herself to play the guitar. She started writing songs of her own shortly after that. Later during her college years, in a spur-of-the-moment decision of unprecedented boldness for an academically achieving suburban kid, she took off a semester to spend five months in Bangkok as a singer in a band of Philadelphia musicians. The experience built her confidence and heightened her desire to take the ultimate plunge, but she went back to Wisconsin, beefed up her course load and got her degree along with her class before heading to New York and taking a job bartending while pondering her next move. She had no idea how to proceed, but resourcefulness and luck can combine in magical ways. “Manager, production deal, record deal—all happened in about six months,” she says, sounding like she still doesn’t quite believe it.
Now, having all of those experiences behind her, Toby feels that much more confident putting this new record of songs out independently. “The music business seems to be changing almost hourly! I can barely keep up with all the new and interesting ways there are to release music and communicate with the audience. It’s an exciting new world and I’m just so appreciative that my fans want to hear my music, in whatever form it takes!”
“Lightman’s dusky vocals and earthy, groovy vibe invite comparisons to Joan Osborne and Sheryl Crow”
“no small talent… Toby Lightman continues to shine a light on her knack for making rich, soulful pop”