I'd have to say my biggest influence is my dad. He played guitar and sang for me ever since I was a baby. His music was the only thing I ever listened to as a kid.
And...Whoever bought me that Mariah Carey tape "Emotions" did me a huge favor... I would practice singing to her every day. I owe my lucky ear to my dad and that tape.
The first time I sang in public was at an all black Southern Baptist church on Christmas eve when I was 8. For some reason I decided to sing "White Christmas..." I just recently realized the humor in that -- but luckily at the time, everyone thought it was cute...
Soon after, I started singing in talent shows and would do the National Anthem for opening day of little league baseball.
I would always act like i could play my dads Gibson -- 'till he was getting pissed that I kept knocking it around...So he bought me my very own guitar when I was 13. As soon as i learned a new chord -- i wrote a new song...And thats pretty much how it goes.