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Colbie Caillat: Gone West for New Horizons

It seems like a lifetime ago when Myspace dominated social networking throughout the early to mid-2000s. This platform became an epicenter for launching unknown artists to stardom in a matter of minutes. But no one had anticipated that a young girl from California would become the biggest unsigned artist at the time. Colbie Caillat was among the plethora of singers who posted her music to Myspace in 2006. A few months later Caillat would receive widespread attention from viewers as her song “Bubbly” catapulted the singer to national fame. From there on, the singer embarked on a whirlwind journey of becoming one of the most successful artists of the digital age.

Caillat was like every other kid who grew up on the beaches of Malibu. The surf and sun backdrop made for an idyllic setting to raise a family in. But behind the summertime weather lied a passion that was hotter than the California beaches. Caillat’s father, Ken, spent many years in the music industry producing records for the legendary rock band Fleetwood Mac. The albums of Rumors, Tusk and Mirage instilled a desire for Caillat to pursue music. After spending the next few years on vocal lessons, she would try out for American Idol twice. But Caillat failed both auditions as she was considered “too shy” to perform in front of others. However, Caillat’s life would change after failing her second audition.

Ken Caillat’s colleague, Mikal Blue, took an interest in his daughter during her auditions and wanted to produce her music. They recorded and released “Bubbly’’ to her Myspace account which amassed millions of viewers within a few months. Record labels noticed this and started a war with each other to sign the young artist. Caillat would sign with Universal and release her debut album, Coco, in 2007. The folk pop album went double platinum with over 3 million copies sold worldwide. “Bubbly’’ became a summertime radio classic with Rolling Stone raving how “This California girl keeps the sun-kissed sounds coming.” The tracks of “Realize” and “The Little Things” garnered attention from contemporary artists who would pique their interest to work with her. Among these artists would be the prolific singer-songwriter, Jason Mraz.

Mraz pitched the song “Lucky” to Caillat as he was entranced by her vocals and felt the song was incomplete without her. The duet recorded and released the single on Mraz’s third studio album We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. The single dominated charts across the world and garnered the duo a Grammy award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. But the pressure of replicating her success would soon weigh down on Caillat. She took the time to “find herself again” with the struggles of growing up and finding a new creative process. The results of this would be the release of her wall shattering record, Breakthrough. Critics praised Caillat once again as the hit single, “Fallin’ For You”, paved the way to another Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album.

The string of hit summertime singles and soul-searching creative process established Caillat as “one of the best-selling artists in digital history” by Rolling Stone. Caillat continued to collaborate with her peers, including Taylor Swift, but one songwriting session in 2018 led to something more. Caillat’s fiancé, Justin Young, suggested the idea of creating a new group with their producer Jason Reeves and his wife. The idea sparked the birth of the country pop group Gone West during that summer. The group debuted at the Grand Ole Opry and made Nashville their central hub for recording music. Their debut album Canyons blasted the group into the country scene with critics and artists hailing the “rich, blended sound.” The single “What Could’ve Been” gained excessive airplay this past summer with Nashville Lifestyles Magazine praising it as “crisp yet plaintive’’. Unfortunately, this marked the beginning of the end for the group.

Caillat announced across social media the disbandment of the group due to Young and her ending their engagement. But Caillat reassured her followers on the amicable relationship she still holds with group. “Justin and I are best friends and will continue to make music together forever.”, as she stated. No stranger to drastic change, Caillat is expected to continue her music’s path into the summer sky as she’s eager for “whatever adventure comes next.”

Written by Trenton Luber


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