Eliza Doolittle is already a big star in the U.K. The 22-year-old Londoner's self-titled debut has gone platinum there, and she's looking to take her soul-inflected pop music across the pond.
The daughter of Tony-winning actress Frances Ruffelle and playwright John Caird, Doolittle's stage name is a combination of her first name and a nickname that "just stuck."
"The first song I wrote was called 'Mr. Mysterious,' " Doolittle tells Weekend All Things Considered host Linda Wertheimer. "It was about an imaginary boy. It's quite silly, really. It's definitely a 12-year-old's song."
Influenced by the R&B and pop stars she heard growing up, Doolittle's debut takes those influences and puts her own spin on them. Doolittle says "Rollerskate" was the first song for the album that she felt reflected what would become her own sound.
"I felt excited about it and felt like it was something different. It worked with my personality and really seemed to click," she says. "Everything I wrote after that was bearing that sound in mind. I knew exactly what I wanted to do after writing that song."
But Doolittle isn't new at writing songs. She's been co-writing and producing since she was 13, flying between London and New York to write and record. She says the first few years were tough, but that starting young helped her become a better songwriter.
"I was still finding my feet, and I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. But the more I experimented, the more knowledge I've gained," Doolittle says. "I'm really grateful that I started young, because if I started writing tomorrow, then I don't know where I'd be. It would take me years." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.