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Baylen Leonard's Country Champion: Callista Clark

By Baylen Leonard

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Holding your own alongside some of the biggest songwriters in Nashville is a sweat-inducing prospect for even the most seasoned of performers, let alone a teenage newcomer.

Callista Clark, at 17-years-old, has more than met the challenge on Music Row. With a determined talent that can only be innate, Clark was taking charge long before she caught the eye of a major label. It was her presence on social media that not only racked up millions of views and gained her legions of fans, but also led to a record deal with Big Machine.

If her debut release, ‘Real To Me’, is anything to go by, Clark will be counted amongst that upper echelon of songwriters in no time flat.

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Where are you from and has that influenced the type of artist you are?

I’m from a really small town in Georgia, where everybody knows everybody, and we all listen to country music. Country music is who I am and is a part of me, but I do listen to all kinds of music - so I have a variety of different influences.

Speaking of influences, what were you listening to growing up?

I grew up singing in church, so I have to say Christian or gospel music as one of my earliest influences. I also love 80s and 90s country, Motown, classic rock, R&B, and pop. I really love all kinds of music and I think it shows in my songs.

Did you ever want to do something other than music?

Yes! Growing up I was really shy. It was always hard for me to sing in front of people. I always loved designing clothes, thrifting, or really anything to do with fashion! I’ve had a few outfits that I’ve designed and had made, but honestly I just like being creative any way I can.

Are you more creative when you’re happy or when you’re sad?

I think it’s a mix of both, honestly. I always write about whatever I’m feeling that day and go wherever that takes me. I’m always trying to think of ways to express myself through my artistry and creativity, regardless of the emotion.

In general which comes first for you, the title or the song?

Usually, I start with the hook for the song, so yes, the title. When I have an idea for the hook, I usually know how I want it to sound on production, and I can go from the hook to decide the verse and the chorus.

Any nicknames you care to share? How did it come about?

My whole family calls me Calli. My dad really liked the name Calli for me, so my mom looked up names that started with that and they found Callista! She liked that it means “most beautiful”.

Night owl or early bird?

I am definitely not an early bird, so let’s say I’m a night owl.

Who would be your dream collaboration?

I can’t pick just one! My dream collaborations would be Dan + Shay, Tori Kelly, or Joss Stone.

What’s next?

I’m not really sure! I honestly can’t wait to see for myself. I hope to start doing live shows again soon and continue to write more music.

Callista Clark's New EP 'Real To Me' is out now via Big Machine. Watch the lyric video for 'It's Cause I Am' below.