TIME spent the day with the singer-songwriter in New York City as she kicked off her first U.S. tour+ READ ARTICLE
Gabrielle Aplin knows what it’s like to make it to the top — and she’s completely unfazed at the thought of trying it all over again on another continent.
The 21-year-old British folk singer already made a name for herself when her single “The Power of Love” topped the iTunes chart in the U.K. and Australia, but it’s a name Americans aren’t familiar with… yet.
As Aplin kicks off her first U.S. tour, she’s still as unassuming and down-to-earth as her YouTube persona suggests, which caught the attention of Parlophone Records in 2012. Since then, she’s gained international recognition, but she’s still pleased — and even a little surprised — to find fans outside NYC’s Studio at Webster Hall, waiting to catch a selfie with her as she heads in for a sound check hours before the show.
“I haven’t met any fans in the U.S. apart from the New York fans so far,” Aplin said. “But these fans all came from the same place — they’ve been there since the beginning.”
After a day of interviews, picking out a pair of vintage boots, a veggie lunch in Union Square, and an acoustic performance, the singer-songwriter had her first U.S. show in front of a crowd of about 250 people. It’s the type of space that Aplin performed at two or three years ago back in the U.K., she said.
“It was just nice to go down and see a small little room, and be like, ‘Wow, I’m here to actually work, this isn’t handed to me on a plate,'” Aplin said. “It’s exciting that it’s starting again — it’s quite nostalgic and quite humbling, I suppose.”
Aplin’s sound has been described as soft and breathless, but it’s powerful, too. Whether singing with an acoustic guitar or backed by a full band, her voice and quirky personality resonate.
Looking forward, Aplin — who stayed to talk with fans after the Webster Hall show despite having woken up at 5:30 a.m. — is focused on connecting with her listeners.
“I think it’s nice to work and then have success,” Aplin said. “I think it’s all about the people who listen to your music, and loving playing and writing. Once you’ve got those two and they’re your main two priorities, then radio and TV and all the other stuff that comes with it will come. But that’s not the be-all end-all.”
Aplin’s EP, English Rain, is out now.