EAST VILLAGE — At a mere 4 months old, Odetta Hartman's path in life already started to reveal itself.
"She was singing in the back of cab," said Harman's mother, Doris Kornish, who started the East Village institution Two Boots Pizza 25 years ago with Odetta's father, Phil Hartman.
Growing up, Hartman didn't realize the influence of her parents' pizza shop, which fostered local artists for decades — but the singer songwriter, now 22, said she sees the early influences in her first four-song album "Tally Marks" which is set to be released this July.
"It was a gathering place where everyone could listen to music and eat funky food," said the songstress, who grew up with performances by local legends such as Phoebe Legere, labeled by some as the original Lady Gaga.
Hartman and her other two siblings — all three are classically trained violinists — absorbed the creative atmosphere like sponges at the original store on Avenue A, according to their father.
"She was exposed to a lot of music there," said Phil Hartman, who recently helped fund a program that places historical plaques on significant historical locations.
"All of these fronts are moving now and I am really excited to see what happens next," said Hartman, who spent three days recording her tracks in November last year with the song being mastered only days ago.
Hartman plays mandolin, guitar and violin and is trying her hand at the trumpet and banjo. The four songs bounce from an R&B soul sound to somber pop and country to "an arty kind of singer-songwriter" track, she said.
Embedded in the songs is the experience of an epic road trip Hartman undertook last year from New York through New Orleans and onto California, playing music with a friend in theaters, pubs, cafes and even homes along the way.
"Just hearings people's stories, that is what I loved about it," said Hartman. She kept a journal recording the entire adventure, the characters they met and the music they performed and overheard.
Documenting America's song history is important to the Bard University graduate who confesses to "geeking out" on music research. Her conversation is dotted with references to this country's musical heritage, such as Alan Lomax, an anthologist who travelled the country in 1935 documenting folk songs that might otherwise be lost.
"All of last year I was listening to these grainy, crackly recordings of harmonica players in deep Georgia or some finger-picking slide guitar on a random porch in Florida," said Hartman, of Lomax's recordings that inspired her own road trip.
For the singer songwriter her home hood comes across often in her art. On Monday local director and childhood friend Matt Sukkar shot Hartman's first music video on the stoop of her family home.
The video captures what Hartman and her friends have been doing for years — sitting streetside and making music.
"I have spent a lot of time sitting there playing music, interacting with random strangers," said Hartman.
On a recent late-night stoop session, Hartman marveled at the vibrant mix of people who still fill the streets of the East Village.
"Every single person who walked by smiled at us or said something to us or interacted with us," said Hartman. Over the five hours a smartly dressed, but slightly drunk man asked for the guitar before belting out a Radiohead song, a war veteran recommended tunes and a woman with a “voice like an angel” performed an Adele number.
Despite classic East Village moments like that, Hartman acknowledges the changing neighborhood. Rents are up and artists are out.
"It is not feasible for me to be here financially," said Hartman, who suspects New York City will not always be her home. However, along with other young artists who grew up as East Villagers, the area's creative and progressive heritage will not be dislodged easily.
"I think the kids from the neighborhood have a lot of pride," said Hartman.
"We care about carrying on the legacy."
When release the E.P. will be aviable on iTunes and from Odetta Hartman's website.