ALEX CHADWICK, host:

This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.

Missy Higgins is 21 years old, an Australian, a singer and songwriter and a superstar. At least she is Down Under, where her first album, "The Sound of White" debuted at number one. Now she's touring here in the States playing smaller venues as the opening act, not the headliner. It's a little humbling maybe for a star, but this is a career with humble origins. Missy Higgins wrote a song called "All For Believing" for a music class in high school. And then her sister sent in a demo tape of it to an Australian radio contest and Missy won.

(Soundbite of "All For Believing")

Ms. MISSY HIGGINS: (Singing) Pull back the shield between us and I'll kiss you. Drop your advances and come into my arms. I'm all for believing, I'm all for believing.

Instead of settling down and, like, starting my records right away, I decided to take a year off and go backpacking across Europe, and I knew that I needed to develop as an artist and I needed to take time off and write songs and I guess kind of experience life and find myself and prepare myself for really, I guess, working hard in the music industry.

CHADWICK: That time off paid off. She wrote about the pressures of unexpected stardom and the clamor of the music industry in a song that's become her biggest hit yet called "Scar."

(Soundbite of "Scar")

Ms. HIGGINS: "Scar's" pretty much about people's need to categorize and pigeonhole and they were basically trying to simplify me. And I didn't want to go there. And so I guess it's about wanting to leave those experiences with some kind of scar so you can remember not to make the same mistake again.

(Soundbite of "Scar")

Ms. HIGGINS: (Singing) ...and doesn't that sound familiar, doesn't that hit too close to home, doesn't that make you shiver the way things could have gone? Doesn't that feel peculiar? Everyone wants to live more so that I do remember to never go that far, 'cause you leave me with a scar.

Certain good things about being young in the music industry, you know, if you make mistakes, you've got time to correct it. But there's also slight disadvantage, I guess, just because people usually associate youth with ignorance and naivete. Yet, a lot of people are saying to me, `How can you know these things at your age? How can you write about those things? You know, I find it hard to take you seriously because I find it hard to believe that you've really experienced it.' My response to that is it's not really about experience because the song is all about the emotion rather than the experience, for me anyway.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. HIGGINS: (Singing) The time has changed nothing at all. You're still the only one that feels like home. I've tried cutting the ropes, tried letting you go, but you're still the only one that feels like home.

I think when you write a song, you usually write it in the heart of the emotion because that--you know, that's why you write the song, because you have to get through something. You have to work it out inside your head. So I think songs usually capture you at your most vulnerable.

CHADWICK: Missy Higgins' debut album is called "The Sound of White." To hear two songs she did for us here at NPR West, go to our Web site, npr.org.

DAY TO DAY returns in a moment. I'm Alex Chadwick.

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