Anna Thompson was born to entertain. Sure, loads of kids like to sing, but Anna entertained. When she was small, she fell in love with Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” and, in particular, the song “Part of Your World.” She loved to sing the song to herself, and every so often, to her parents’ friends when they asked nicely. There wasn’t anyone who wasn’t blown away by a 2-going-on-3-year-old who could sing like that. Around the same time, little Anna got hooked on “American Idol.” When Carrie Underwood won the fourth season of the competition, Anna realized that it was indeed possible to be a singer as your grown-up job. “Even though I was 3, I knew this was what I was going to be. And I also knew I wasn’t going to change my mind.”
Anna inherited her musical talent from her mother and grandmother; her grandmother plays both guitar and piano, and has perfect pitch, something Anna would realize she had too (more on that later). Her mom loved to sing as well, but neither of them pursued it as more than a hobby. Anna was so clear on her goals that her parents put her in a theatre program when she was 5. She performed in shows every summer and auditioned for every school play. When she was 11, a School of Rock opened in Bellevue, near where she lived. Anna was a theatre kid though, and didn’t want to do “rock music.” Her parents encouraged her to try it, and enrolled her in a “Women who Rock” class. Anna never looked back. School of Rock became the centerpiece of her life, especially after she auditioned for their exclusive School of Rock “House Band,” which provided the opportunity to gig every weekend as part of a real band. Her (clearly very supportive) parents also put her in piano lessons so Anna could learn music theory and how to read music.
Around this time, Anna started to write her own songs. There was a district-wide school competition wherein students could submit art projects. Anna wrote a song. Although she claims it wasn’t “very good,” she won a few awards, and was motivated to try again the next year. Her songwriting wasn’t something she shared with many people, but it was something she took seriously. “When I was 12-years-old, I would sit down to write a song at least once a week. I was, at the time, very Radiohead inspired and wanted to write rock songs.” Within a year or two, Anna realized her voice was better-suited for pop, and she became vocally inspired by Ariana Grande. “I was mind blown by her technical skill and started to work really hard on vocally training myself.” It was during this deep dive that she realized she had perfect pitch, which is the ability to hear, recognize and replicate a musical note without any reference. “I never knew I had it, and I am not even sure I knew what it was until a mentor at School of Rock pointed it out to me. It has absolutely come in very handy!”
In the Spring of 11thgrade, Anna saw an Instagram post for a talent search competition for kids 13-19, with the winner receiving a major label record deal. Anna immediately submitted herself for consideration. “I was chosen as one of 20 people that were invited to fly to Los Angeles. The label had us perform a 3-song set in front of A&R executives and then asked us to choose a demo to cut. This was the very first time I’d ever been in a studio, and it was a place where really big names recorded.” Anna made it through the first round and was in a group of 7 finalists who went back in to the Studio to record some more. Within a week, she was named the winner, offered a deal, and got herself an entertainment lawyer and a manager. “I went to LA once a month to work in the studio with top engineers and producers, as well as write with some of the biggest writers at the time. Up until that point, my entire experience in writing was for fun or to get a feeling out.” Faced with a huge learning curve, Anna was assigned to write about ten ideas a week, and began to feel frustrated with the process. In addition, she’d left school and was missing her entire Senior year. She found herself in a weird flux. “They encouraged me to write in a very specific way, which was not something that came naturally to me.” While it didn’t end the way Anna had hoped, the experience was an invaluable one. “I learned that writing pop music is very calculated. I had the chance to be a sponge and learn everything I could from very talented people in that year.”
Taking a break from music, Anna went back to high school in April of her Senior year to graduate with her class. She took a ‘gap year’ to focus on what she wanted to do next and then…there was a pandemic. “Once the pandemic started, I looked back at some of the songs I’d written while working with the label and thought, these are pretty good! I started writing again and the songs sort of poured out of me. However, I had no one to make music with.” Going to a writing retreat in Seattle in the summer of 2020 was a game-changer. It was there that Anna met “her people” – a network of other musicians from the Seattle area. They connected and she ended up recording her first self-written song in a Seattle Air B&B, so different from her experience in Los Angeles “It was barebones and not glamorous, but the quality of the work was amazing.”
Confident in her songwriting, Anna feels like now it all clicks for her. In fact, she says her EP, CENTERPIECE, virtually wrote itself. “For me, it’s usually a melody and a lyric paired together, which I will record to my phone – like when I am about to fall asleep! Then I play a chord progression on piano to go with the melody, and lastly, the hook.” “Get Me High,” her first single wasn’t even planned to make the EP. “I filmed myself singing “Get Me High” and thought my mess-ups were funny, so I posted it on Tik Tok. Much to my surprise it went viral, and fans were demanding to hear the whole version, so I texted Jake Crocker, a Seattle based producer that I met online. We went in to the Studio together and BOOM!, he produced the full track.”
Like most people Anna’s age, social media has played a big part in her career. After the success of “Get Me High,” she put the track “Telepathically” (produced by Fluencie & Swshr) on Tik Tok and that song took off as well. She is very active on social, and her fans are equally as responsive and enthusiastic. She also knows that her past experience has been hugely impactful “I know a lot more about the inner workings of the industry because of what happened to me, which has made me smarter as an independent artist. Social media is a large part of why I’ve been successful, and am able to continue to do what I love. I don’t take any of it for granted.”
So, what’s next for Anna Thompson? She’s going to keep making music. Armed with good songs, confidence and a great team of people to work with, there’s nothing stopping her. “My biggest goal – if there was one goal I ever had – is to write and record someone’s favorite song. I know how much my favorite songs have affected me – how they’ve lifted me up when I needed it. Even if it’s just five people, I hope I can do that.” If her current music is any indication, she already has.