It's not every day that the girl-next-door winds up being signed by one of the world's biggest pop stars, but that once-in-a-lifetime scenario is exactly what happened to Cynthia Nabozny when Katy Perry fell head over heels in love with her voice after a chance encounter. Nabozny – who has since adopted the artist name CYN – grew up in Michigan, outside Detroit. After her parents' divorce, CYN, her younger sister and her mom moved to a small house near the lake, a few miles from her dad. CYN's suburban life encouraged her to be a good student, embarking on a path to getting a decent steady job that pays the bills. Certainly something a career in songwriting could not guarantee. “I wanted the typical American life,” she says today. “I didn't know I'd have certain opportunities back then.”
Born into a humble and hardworking middle class background, CYN is the classic Midwestern gal; her electrician father works midnight shifts at Ford Motor Company six days a week, and neither of her parents' travels have led them far beyond the North America shores. Manifesting her dreams of travel, CYN has undertaken many "firsts" for her family. Most recently, she can cross visiting Paris, Rome, and Milan off her to-do list. “I'm obsessed with The Louvre,” she laughs. “Obsessed.” Despite her small town, conservative upbringing, her dreams have no limit. CYN packed her bags and headed to Hollywood in pursuit of her ultimate aspirations.
Growing up, CYN pored over the American Songbook. CYN spent a lot of time with her grandmother listening to Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, and Carole King. The voices she grew up on were far subtler than some of the belting pop vocals of today. They didn't overpower, and could often be light-hearted in their message.
During her teenage years, CYN performed in talent contests, uploaded covers on YouTube, and auditioned for lead roles—all of which failed to produce ideal outcomes. She was rejected by a music school in Chicago, placing her face to face with an unfavorable reality. Opting for a degree in Management Information Systems at the city's DePaul University, she kept making music but never shouted about it and quietly took inspiration from her new city’s surroundings. “I have a big imagination,” she says, wide-eyed. “Whenever I leave my house I want to be able to feel like I'm going on an adventure. I love moving through people, I like to romanticize my life and be a character. I often refer to cities as adult playgrounds – that's what it feels like hopping on and off the subway, looking at giant buildings, wondering what they are.”
The name CYN itself is tongue-in-cheek, an evolved Lolita playing on the word 'sin'. She cuts a cute figure, radiating timeless youth like a grown Shirley Temple. Yet she holds herself with a self-assured poise, like something's bubbling under her porcelain surface. “Some men act shocked when they hear that I'm called CYN,” she laughs. “I have a lot of fun challenging people's perceptions.” This girl-next-door would rather run with the boys than be their pin-up. Growing up she was picked on by local kids. She sought recognition from bullies for too long. At last, no more. Hoping that one day she can inspire other small town girls through her music, she contemplates what she wishes she would have known as an adolescent…
“That I would turn into a girl that I like,” she laughs. “I didn't like my hair, I felt insecure about my body, I had depressive thoughts. Then one day I had a dream that there was this girl on a beach. She had beautiful golden hair wrapping around her and the sun was setting. I woke up feeling so whole because I felt like I knew that girl, and that if I wanted to be that girl I could be.”