It's notoriously hard for new female artists to break through at country radio, but Sony's Arista Nashville is betting big on its newest singer/songwriter, Cam, and her upbeat debut "My Mistake" to be the exception to the rule.
The California native, who has found success as a songwriter penning both pop and country hits, landed 44 first-week radio adds by her first official week at country radio, scoring praise from some of the format's heavy hitters. Syndicated host Bobby Bones said, "You have it. You really do have 'it.' Very few people have it, and you do." Nate Deaton, general manager of station KRTY in San Jose, California, agreed, predicting "she is the female who's going to get country radio out of 'we don't play females.'"
It remains to be seen if Cam will one day join the ranks of superstars Carrie and Miranda, but for now, the newcomer is a refreshing voice in the genre. The four songs from her debut EP, Welcome to Cam Country, racked up close to five million streams on Spotify in less than a month, helping the young artist find an ever-expanding audience. After a month-long exclusivity window with Spotify, fans can now also purchase the four-song EP at iTunes.
"I'm so proud to give everyone a glimpse into the world we have been working so hard to create," Cam said in a press release of the EP. "I chose these four songs off the album, covering the widest range of emotions to give more people a chance to recognize themselves in the songs. This is just the beginning of the adventure, and everyone is welcome."
In addition to finding fans in radio programmers and country music loyalists, Cam's "adventure" also includes several early celebrity supporters. One notable fan, Emmylou Harris, vouched for Cam at last year's Country Music Hall of Fame fundraiser concert, All For The Hall, in Los Angeles. "When Merle [Haggard] couldn't make it to the benefit concert, Emmylou told them to call me!" Cam explains. "I was so grateful, and honestly surprised. But Emmylou said, 'You're good, that's why you're here.'"
Here's an excerpt from my recent conversation with the rising country star.
You wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on your debut EP, and you've also written for other artists, including Miley Cyrus. How do you make your songwriting so distinctive?
In the beginning I tried really hard to fit in, but people still told me how unique and different I sounded. So now I just follow my gut, work hard, and continually keep my standards really high.
Who are your greatest musical influences?
My co-writers and producers are my little family, and we have all shaped each other from the very beginning on how to make music. Of course we are always hoping to sound as good as the best artists out there without sounding like them.
Where do you find yourself most at peace and most creative?
I feel at peace when I'm by the ocean, under the Redwood trees in Northern California, sitting around a bonfire in Leiper's Fork, Tennessee, or riding horses out in the Southern California desert.
If you could time travel, which era of country music would you want to live in and why?
The Bakersfield Sound: to be a part of a new wave of country music coming from California, pushing boundaries (whether they knew it or not), making people dance, and wearing sequins.
Whose career would you like yours to be like in 10 years?
Well, I'd like it to be completely my own, but I'm always inspired by Zac Brown Band; everything they've created ties back to the strong foundation in their music & brand.
What's a song fans would be surprised you know every word to?
The Fraggle Rock theme song!
Get to know Cam in this fun introductory video, set to "My Mistake," ahead of her Grand Ole Opry debut on May 29.