At just 17 years old, Callista Clark has a lot to say — just listen to any of her songs. But if you really want to get to know the budding country singer/songwriter, and iHeartCountry's new On The Verge artist, start with her single "It's 'Cause I Am."
"It's 'Cause I am" is a declaration of confidence, and in the chorus, she sings, "I can't help that I'm one of a kind/ I'm more than meets the eye/ If I ain't what you like/ Well, that's alright/ You want a one-dimensional women/ It's okay, I understand/ If I seem too complicated for ya/ It's 'cause I am."
Originally from Zebulon, Georgia, Clark has already worked with several of Nashville's leading songwriters, and is well on her way to following in the footsteps of talented artists like Maren Morris and Ingrid Andress. Get to know more about Callista in our exclusive Q&A below.
Tell us about "It's 'Cause I Am" and what inspired it?
"There were several situations leading up to writing it where I had people doubting me and thinking they had me figured out before I even had a chance to show them what I could do, what I was about. When people saw me, a young girl with a guitar, it was sometimes hard to get them to listen and take me seriously. I wanted to write a song that introduced me in a bold and confident way."
On Instagram, you shared a video flipping through a notebook full of lyrics. How old were you when you wrote your first song?
"I've been writing songs since I was 11, and I actually wrote my first song with my mom. I started co-writes in Nashville when I was 14, and I have written a ton of songs since that first one. I can’t wait to keep releasing music!"
Do you remember the first song you wrote?
"Yes! The first song I ever wrote started as a poem in a school poetry contest, and it was called 'Wildfire.' I won the poetry contest, and my mom read it and said, 'This is a song!' At first, the idea of writing songs was difficult for me because I wasn’t sure if anyone would listen or even care about what I had to say. Writing my first songs with my mom really helped to ease me into sharing what I was feeling."
You've written with a few of Nashville's most talented songwriters. What has that been like?
"From the beginning it was intimidating going into my first co-writes with some of the best in the business, but there really isn't a better way to learn. I was blessed to be in writing rooms with people who believe in me and what I have say."
Who are some of the country artists who have inspired you and your songwriting?
"When I was growing up I listened to 80s and 90s country, so I was inspired by artists like Travis Tritt, Randy Travis, and The Judd's. Recently, I've been loving Ingrid Andress. I am such a fan of her songwriting and her confidence. Luke Combs and Thomas Rhett are two artists I admire because it would mean the world to me to be successful as a writer of my own songs and even for other artists, just like they do."
You released your first EP Real To Me earlier this year. What was it like to put together and share with the world?
"It has been absolutely amazing, and I can’t even explain how I've been feeling. It's truly a dream come true to finally put out my music! It has also been surreal having everything on Zoom and not traveling as much. At first it felt like it wasn't really happening, but hearing my song on the radio has been incredible and has helped it feel more real."