Growing up to The Sound of Music, Muppet Movie, and Annie movie soundtracks, it is easy to sight lead singer Gwen Stefani's earliest influences within her live performances of today. Once she starts it is near impossible to slow her down and out of the question to try and stop her.
Born October 3rd, 1969, at St. Jude's Hospital in Fullerton, California, Gwen has spent her entire life in Southern California. That is to say only if you exclude No Doubt's national and international tours, vacations, and her not-so-frequent-enough trips to England to visit her boyfriend.
Gwen grew up in Orange County with her parents, brothers Eric and Todd, and sister Jill. A very close family, Gwen can recall her first live performances ever being puppet shows that she and Eric would create together and perform for their neighbors. Her first singing experiences came when she would dress up with her sister Jill and their cousins, and play "Musical House". While "playing house" might have been an ordinary activity for young American girls, it's not common to make it mandatory that all words be sung and not spoken.
Gwen can first recall music having an influence on her life when she was in junior high and her brother Eric would bring home two-tone ska records by artists such as Madness and The Selecter. It was at this point that she became heavily involved in the ska scene. In addition to the aforementioned bands, Gwen also got really into L.A. bands like The Untouchables and Fishbone.
In early 1987 Gwen's brother Eric and John Spence founded what is now No Doubt. In the beginning Eric asked Gwen to share vocal duties with John. Sadly, not long after No Doubt's incarnation, John Spence committed suicide which left Gwen to rock the mic.
Over the course of the next couple of years No Doubt played primarily to a ska crowd at clubs and parties. As each band member grew and accepted influences outside of the ska scene, more and more venues became available as places to showcase their ever-growing personal style.
Now, going into the studio to work on their fourth album, Gwen seems fascinated by all of the musical possibilites available and hopes to grow stronger as a lyricist.
"It's incredible," sights Gwen, "When I was growing up my parents were folk musicians and I would have never listened to Bob Dylan by choice, but now I can honestly respect so many different ways of playing music and expressing what you're trying to say."
One non-musical aspect of Gwen that is just as much a part of her as anything else is her interest in clothes and fashion. Admittedly a thrift store junkie, Gwen has been making her own clothes ever since her mom first made her a replica of Maria's dress from The Sound of Music to wear during a high school talent show.
Sift through the stories laid out by the sensational media and you will find the core of Gwen Stefani who is, and has always been, someone not much different than you.