A singer/songwriter with classic influences ranging from the godfather Bob Dylan to his '90s disciple Sheryl Crow, Chelsea Williams made a name for herself the hardest way possible: by busking on Santa Monica's bustling Third Street Promenade. She didn't limit herself to performances, making sure that she wrote and recorded self-released albums in the 2000s, but it was those appearances on the Promenade that caught the ear of Kirk Pasich, the president of Blue Élan Records. Pasich signed Williams, leading to the release of her first major album, the Americana- and pop-laced Boomerang, in 2017.
Chelsea Williams was brought to the Glendale, California area from Columbus, Ohio when she was a child. Her mother harbored dreams of a musical career, so Williams grew up in a house filled with music. She began playing guitar and writing songs when she became a teenager, influenced by both classic rock singer/songwriters and alternative rockers of the '90s. After dipping her toes in the club circuit of Hollywood, she decided she preferred busking, eventually settling on the heavily trafficked Third Street Promenade that resides just a few blocks away from the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica.
As she performed, she recorded her originals, usually at home on her computer. In 2007, she released an eponymous full-length album, which was followed by the mini-LP Decoration Aisle in 2008. The next decade didn't see many released recordings — a 2012 cover of Bruno Mars/Travie McCoy's "Billionaire" that featured in a Chevrolet Cruze campaign — but she kept working, sometimes singing with a side project called the Salty Suites, occasionally earning the attention of a major player in Hollywood, such as producer Toby Gad. Together, the two completed an album with the intention of seeing it released on Interscope Records, but the label decided against it. A while later, after self-releasing an album called Dreamcatcher in 2016, she met Kirk Pasich, and once he signed her to Blue Élan, he teamed her with producer Ross Garren to record her first album for the label. The resulting Boomerang, a versatile amalgam of Americana, folk, country, and West Coast pop, saw release in August 2017. In early 2020 Williams released the breezy "Beautiful and Strange," the lead single from the full-length album of the same name, which arrived later that year. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine