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Growing up in cold, damp Washington state, Lila McCann dreamed of the day she would move down the coast to California. That day came this summer when Lila, 18, set up housekeeping in a Los Angeles-area apartment.
"I like it here," she says. "I love the weather here, and all the little eclectic shops. I love being by the beach, because I lived five minutes from the water in Washington. But the way of life back home is a little more laid-back."
Lila made the thousand-mile trip from the Tacoma area after graduating from high school earlier this year. While music is still her first love, a bite from the acting bug prompted her to head toward Hollywood rather than Nashville.
"I think it would be a lot of fun if I'm good at it," she says. "I took drama classes in high school, and I had a ton of fun with it. It's not my first priority, though, so if that doesn't work out, it's not a big deal. Singing is what I love to do." Lila hasn't had set foot on a soundstage yet, though - she's too busy settling into her home in Santa Monica. Her new domain is funky and feminine, cozy and quaint. She trashed the old mini-blinds and replaced them with flowing drapery. Lila has also added loads of lace, charming light fixtures, area rugs, ornate mirrors and lots of angels, including an angel door-knocker.
"Decorating has been a long process, and it's not finished," Lila says with a smile. She's been shopping with her manager - a former building contractor and designer - for months.
"We would take breaks from recording to go shopping," she says with a laugh. "I'm still making about 10 trips to the hardware store every day. They already know me by name."
Lila's bedroom is every girl's dream - there's a lace canopy over a nicely-dressed bed, with an Elizabethan tapestry hanging behind it. "I always wanted the hanging stuff over the bed," she says. "I wake up, and it's dreamy."
The light fixture barely illuminates the room, but candle-shaped bulbs flicker, adding their own magic. A couple of teddy bears add the final touch, reminding visitors that this young lady's childhood isn't that far behind her.
"I got one for my birthday from a Brazilian exchange student I became really good friends with," she says, "and the other is from my best friend." The focus of the living room - decorated in what she describes as "shabby chic" - is an old-fashioned floral couch draped with lace. Beside it stands a wooden decorative screen, refinished to tie into the decor.
"I love this room," she says, settling into the couch and glancing out of the sliding glass door to the small balcony. She smiles, spying her brand-new blue turbo Volkswagen Beetle sitting in the driveway. "I had a truck, which I swore by," she notes, "but I really love this car. And it's fast!"
There are, ahem, other points of interest outside the window today, too. "There's the cute guy who lives in the building," she exclaims, pointing. Not all the local residents have met with her approval, though. "There's another guy who took my laundry out of the dryer before it was ready," she says. "It made me so mad!"
The kitchen - a long, narrow room with a skylight - features an oven and dishwasher, neither of which is working at the moment.
"I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, although I can't cook very well," she admits. "I'm getting better at it, though. My mom gave me a big, fat cookbook when I moved. One of my very best friends goes to school down here, so I made him a home-cooked meal."
Another recent visitor was the neighbor's Siamese cat, Bella, who made herself comfortable in Lila's place. "I left the bedroom door open and I found her rolling around on the carpet," she says, chuckling. "I said, 'Excuse me, you're not my cat!' But she's cute, so I let her hang out."
One of Lila's friends from Washington has also paid a visit to the new digs, and her mother is planning a trip soon. Lila speaks to her mother daily, and lights up as she discusses their relationship.
"My mom is my best friend," she says. "We did everything together, and I do miss her. I think she was really worried when I first moved out, but I think now that she's seen pictures, and sees how comfortable I am, she's calmed down." Now that the move is complete, Lila is back to work. She's currently recording her third album, the follow-up to last year's Something In The Air.
"We've had a ton of fun in the studio," she reports. "It's probably the coolest thing I've ever worked on. The songs are better, the music is great - and my voice has changed, too. I've never really felt like I had the opportunity to push my voice, but with the way the songs are, I really get to belt!"
One of the new tunes, "She Remembers Love," is about a woman afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. "It's really a tear-jerker," Lila says. "We were all in the studio sobbing and crying our eyes out."
Lila isn't crying about her new life in L.A., though - despite not having time to make many friends yet. There's no boyfriend either, but she's got her eyes open. "Maybe I'll meet some hot L.A. guy," she says laughing. "Who knows? There are definitely some good-looking guys here."
For the time being, Lila is content being alone. For the first time, she's away from her family, not touring and she has decided to put off college for the time being. "I've always been either on a tour bus with 11 other people, or at home with my brother, my mom and my dad," she explains. "It's nice having my own space. I've always been kind of an independent person."