By Peter Bailey
Every so often, an artist emerges to remind us of our innocence and the joy it ushered in.
This childlike soul shows us that being vulnerable during life's growing pains makes it all bearable.
Enter Elle Varner.
"A friend of mine once called me the queen of vulnerability and he said, 'Please don't ever lose that,'" says Varner. "I feel like we are still the same kid we were no matter how old we get. We can layer it with whatever we want."
On this Saturday evening inside Santa Monica's West Lake Studios, Varner's signature smile -- as inviting as her Billie Holidayesque sound -- beamed as she discussed her recent musical ascent.
The previous night, music industry luminaries packed inside the Beverly Hills Hilton for the ASCAP Awards to celebrate those crafting the most heartfelt melodic prose for the soul.
The likes of Diddy, Usher, Ne-Yo, Tyrese and Usher were all on hand, but Varner was the night's obvious darling.
"Having been in that room many times before and now to be the one performing... that was great moment for me," says Varner.
Her first offering, "Perfectly Imperfect," spawned the Grammy-nominated "Refill," an ode to women finding comfort in the awkward moment of love at first sight.
Now with her recent success and a highly publicized romance with New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert, Varner finds herself more liberated, but still basking in vulnerability's glow.
"I've seemed to have found a way to express a more sexual thing," she says. "I have songs that women can sing and not feel like, 'Oh my God did I just say that', but it's things that happen and it's things that we go through and things that we want to talk about."
The lead single from her upcoming album "Four Letter Word" (open to interpretation), finds Varner talking about what seems to be painfully ignored in salon banter far and wide -- a good man.
"I just wrote a song called 'A Good Man.' You don't hear a lot of females talking about that. It's something that girls need to hear. You do have good guys out there," she says.
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