The daughter of jazz vocalist Ann Marie Schofield and jazz pianist Walter Davis, Jr.
, Alana Davis made her own reputation as a singer and songwriter whose style bridges folk, rock, jazz, and R&B.
Born and raised in New York's Greenwich Village, Davis learned to play the guitar as a youngster. Music remained an avocation, however, until her late teens. Although she began writing songs at the age of 18, Davis didn't turn to music as a career until briefly attending Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, New York. Leaving school to devote her full attention to music, she recorded a demo tape of her original tunes and was signed by Elektra
. They released her debut album, Blame It on Me, in late 1997. It reached number 157 on the Billboard 200, and her first single, a cover of Ani DiFranco
's "32 Flavors," became a Top 40 single in early 1998. The single's success also led to an invitation to participate in the Lilith Fair. Davis and Elektra
disagreed, however, about the direction of her career. While the label hoped for a straightforward R&B sound, Davis was more interested in fusing her rich mix of influences. Her 2001 sophomore effort, Fortune Cookies, was powerful and original; it also went unpromoted and drove a wedge between her and the label. Striking out on her own, she formed the Tigress Records
imprint to release her third album, 2005's critically acclaimed Surrender Dorothy.