You could almost say Anna Pancaldi has ‘broken America’, after headline shows in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville, and opening for such acts as David Ryan Harris and Jake Isaac. She’s also had her songs placed in hit US shows like Pretty Little Liars and in the Paramount film The In Between. Pancaldi, a British singer-songwriter based in London, opens up about overcoming debilitating stage fright, her time spent in the States, and the new songs she has coming out soon, hoping to match the multi-million streams of her song, Brother.
“I’m doing well, it’s five o’clock on a Tuesday and I’m boiling some broccoli,” she says from a house in Kew, West London, where she is temporarily staying. “I’m trying to find a new place to live at the moment – it’s always interesting, trying to be creative while feeling like your foundation is up in the air.”
Despite adoring music from a very young age, her love of music was delivered with a very strong case of stage fright. A young Pancaldi simply could not sing in front of anyone.
“I knew from a young age that I love to sing. But I couldn’t sing in front of anyone without bursting into tears! As soon as singing became about being in front of an audience or being marked in an exam, my subconscious couldn’t seem to take it.”
What was the solution to a problem that was clearly going to be insurmountable for a career as a singer-songwriter? Moving to South Africa for a few years, as it happens.
“I lived there for three years as a teenager,” Pancaldi recalls. “At this point, I’d already had my fear for many years. But in South Africa I had this incredible vocal coach called Gavin Smith. He really was the epitome of tough love.
“It was still completely paralyzing – I would cry and walk off stage. But he would walk over to me and say, ‘It's just like falling off a horse, you need to get back up.’ He didn't really give me a choice, in a loving way.
"So I left the UK not being able to sing in front of people, but when we moved back I just had normal nerves like most singers. I get goosebumps thinking about it; Gavin is a real hero of mine.”