Callista Clark may be only 17 years old but her musical talents go far beyond that of her peers. The Georgia native has been singing for as long as she can remember and even wrote her first song at the ripe age of 11.
“I’ve been singing since I could talk,” she explains. “The first place I ever sang was my church. My granddad is the pastor. It’s an incredibly small church. I would hide behind the microphone because I was so shy, but singing is always something I just did,and it’s always felt natural. It’s what I had to do.”
The singer/songwriter is also a multi-instrumentalist, with the know-how to play eight instruments: ukulele, acoustic guitar, piano, bass, electric guitar, keytar, banjo and a mandolin.
But, her talents don’t stop there. Her honest songwriting has been compared to the likes of Maren Morris and Ingrid Andress and recently, she’s stepped into the writing room with heavy hitters such as Chris DeStefano, Jonathan Singleton, Liz Rose and Laura Veltz.
Fans are quickly taking note of her talents. Her videos have amassed over 65 million views on Facebook and 6 million views on YouTube. Now signed to Big Machine Records and backed by music industry mogul Scooter Braun, Clark is turning heads with the release of her debut single, “It’s ‘Cause I Am.”
Co-written alongside Cameron Jaymes and Laura Veltz, the empowering anthem finds Clark embracing her self-confidence and making no apologies for who she is. Destinated to take her career to new heights, “It’s ‘Cause I Am” is already making an impressive impact at country radio.
Country Now recently caught up with Callista Clark to learn more about her musical journey and her debut EP, Real To Me. Check out our exclusive interview below…
What led you to country music?
I’m from a really small town in Georgia where everybody listens to country music so it just always felt like the natural thing to do. My parents introduced me to a lot of classic ’80s and ’90s country. I have a bunch of different influences, so I think you will hear a little bit of all of them in each of my songs, but country is just who I am.
Did you grow up in a musical household?
Yes, my entire family is musical! The first place I ever sang was at my Grandad’s church and I still lead worship there every Sunday with my sister. My Dad taught me the basics on guitar, my Mom taught me the basics on piano, and my little sister is the one who pushed me to learn my first instrument.
Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations and why?
Since the first place I ever sang at was in a church, I think you can definitely hear some of those Christian influences in there. I also love Eva Cassidy, Tori Kelly, The Judd’s, Maren Morris, The Eagles, John Mayer. I really love all kinds of music so I pull from a wide variety of genres. All of my influences also tend to have a really clear point of view. You can tell they really mean what they sing. I hope to bring that to my performances as well.
At what age did you write your first song?
I was 11 and it actually started from a poem that I wrote for a school poetry contest. My mom read it and she knew there was something special about it and that it needed to be a song. She was the first person I ever wrote a
You’ve had the chance to work with some pretty incredible songwriters. What have they taught you about songwriting?
I have been really fortunate to write with some amazing songwriters and every single time I have a co-write I just try and learn from whoever I’m writing with. I like to study the way they write. What’s their writing process? Are they better at melodies or lyrics? And then I go from there and figure out what I can contribute best to the song.
What’s it been like working with Nathan Chapman?
Working with Nathan is the craziest thing I’ve ever been a part of. He is an absolute genius and that’s the best way to put it. He is always open to any ideas I have. The cool thing about it is, I might not even know what I’m trying to say or how to say it, but he knows exactly what I’m talking about and kind of reads my mind in a way.
Can you share the story behind “It’s ‘Cause I Am?”
I wrote “It’s ‘Cause I Am” when I was so mad about people underestimating me. I was in a Starbucks in Nashville and this random guy sees I’m carrying a guitar and goes, “Ha, good luck!” in a really sarcastic tone. I just turned around and said, “Thank you very much.” I wanted him to remember my face. Later that day, I went in and we wrote this song.
How does it feel to release an EP?
It’s amazing! This is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life. I can’t believe it’s happening and I am so thrilled to finally start sharing my stories with everybody. I’m so thankful for all of the support people have shown me so far.
Do you have another favorite track on the project?
My favorite has always been “Real to Me.” It’s so special to me and says everything I want to say. It’s just the perfect introductory song because I always want to be honest and real and share things that I truly feel. This song says it all.
What’s next for you this year?
You know what? I can’t wait to figure that out. I hope to do live shows sometime soon and maybe release more music. We’ll just have to see what happens next!
Fans can keep up with Callista Clark on Instagram.