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Wry, thoughtful singer/songwriter Cary Brothers broke into the mainstream with the single "Blue Eyes," a gorgeously articulate ballad he contributed to 2004's Grammy-winning, hip-artist-showcasing Garden State soundtrack. Born in 1974 to a watercolorist mother and surgeon father, Brothers eschewed the sounds of his native Nashville in favor of Britpop artists like the Cure and the Smiths. Brothers attended college at Northwestern University in the early '90s, where he met Zach Braff, the writer, director, and star of Garden State. Both moved to L.A. after graduation, where Braff rounded out his acting résumé and Brothers partnered with a friend to open a small production company that produced, among other things, the Freddie Prinze, Jr., movie Sparkler.
By 2002, though, his instinct to make music had overtaken his drive to rub shoulders with Hollywood insiders. Brothers, who by then had developed an appreciation for the country-folk music he couldn't be bothered with as a youngster in Nashville, began playing around L.A. at such venues as the Hotel Cafe, a local haunt for upcoming singer/songwriters. There he honed the early material that would win over more than 10,000 buyers for his reverb-ringed spring 2005 EP All the Rage.
Before that disc came out, though, Brothers — with the help of buddy Braff — had already taken his sound to the small screen after an appearance on Scrubs. His swelling popularity, by then best evidenced by the iPod charts, where "Blue Eyes" broke the Top 100 Songs list and topped the folk chart, was also helped along by his business acumen. In 2004, he hit upon an idea for connecting with potential listeners: he conceived a free, downloadable "song of the week," still available on his website, that would allow fans of his moody, Coldplay-meets-U2 sound to send him feedback on what they liked and what, for them, could use some retooling.
By fall 2005, when a second EP, Waiting for Your Letter, was issued on his Procrastination Music label, the spike in visits to his site had confirmed that the concept was working. Armed with a strong fan base, Brothers released his debut full-length, Who You Are, in May 2007.