Bonnie McKee Spins Janis Joplin Turn Into Career Kick Starter

Singer's 'Somebody' picking up steam at radio.

Since “American Dreams” debuted in 2002, the NBC drama has been known for its popular guest stars, with Usher, Kelly Clarkson and Ashanti among the dozens of modern artists who have portrayed veteran singers on the show.

But “American Dreams” has also helped give the American dream to a handful of unknown singers, Los Angeles newcomer Bonnie McKee chief among them.

The classically trained pianist, lyricist and vocalist, who turns 20 this month, played a young Janis Joplin on the show last year, kick-starting the buzz behind her career.

“It was amazing, such an honor,” McKee said. “I’m such a huge fan. I grew up listening to that. My dad’s a huge fan so it was very exciting.”

McKee actually appeared on the “Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!” soundtrack before “American Dreams,” but the song from the LP, “Somebody,” has since gotten a second life and is the first single from her debut album.

“Somebody,” which is starting to pick up steam at radio, was inspired by a movie, but not “Tad Hamilton.”

“It was inspired by the movie ‘Magnolia,’ ’cause I’m a big Aimee Mann fan,” the redheaded McKee said. “It’s kind of a ballad, just looking for that ‘somebody,’ if you will. I believe in it and I hope everyone else does too.”

Meiert Avis, best known for his work with U2 and New Found Glory, recently directed the video, which will be featured on “Advance Warning” this month.

“It’s kind of going over the past four years in my life and just starting out in Seattle and moving to New York and coming to Los Angeles,” McKee said of the clip. “It’s kind of a reflective thing. It’s really beautiful.”

McKee’s album, Trouble, which was released in September, was produced by Rob Cavallo (Green Day) and Bob Power (The Roots), although McKee wrote all of her own music for the 12 tracks.

The singer is hoping to promote the record on the road this year and is also discussing a return appearance on “American Dreams.”