Photo by Ryan Nolan

LISTEN: Callie McCullough’s “What If I Don’t”

Callie McCullough has chased her own unique muse for years making contemporary roots music that nods to the legends who came before her. Having recently teamed up with GRAMMY-nominated super producer, Dave Brainard [Brandy Clark, Jamey Johnson], McCullough has showcased a whole new side of her artistry with her brand new single, “What If I Don’t,” released September 8. Callie has made an impact in the music scene with her vulnerable vocals, breathtaking lyrics, and the remnants of a classic country sound from the past.

The song puts Callie’s angelic voice and larger-than-life personality on display. The song playfully challenges the expectations of marriage, having babies, making money and the notion of getting older — asking all the “what if’s” with a wink and a nod. The accompanying music video — filmed between The Paperhouse Nashville and Stormlight Studios — brings to life the tongue and cheek nature of the song, personifying the light-hearted humor and witty remarks woven into the lyrics. Directed by Ryan Nolan, the video cycles through clips of Callie’s potential beaus, hysterical mom woes, and all the things she’d rather have in life.

“It’s like you hit a certain age and there’s pressure from everyone around you, or just on yourself because of what you’ve been told your whole life — you’re ‘running out of time,” Callie explains. The banjo, dobro and harmonica give us grassy textures woven together by handclaps, drums, loose groove, and three-part harmonies all led by McCullough’s infectious and downright refreshing sound. Despite the fears of getting older displayed in the track, she admits “getting older is gonna be a blast. Can’t wait to shake my cane and play card games all day, so chase whatever rainbows make you happy.”

McCullough’s debut album, After Midnight (2020), featuring first-class picking from members of the GRAMMY-winning bluegrass band Union Station and western-swing super-group The Time Jumpers — quickly put her on the map, garnering a Canadian Country Music Association Nomination for Alternative Country Album of the Year, and three CMAO Nominations: Roots Artist of the Year, Rising Star and Songwriters of the Year.

Born third generation in a musical family, her childhood home was filled with inspiration, and it wasn’t long before Callie was contributing to the family business. The Canadian Songbird took to the road spending nearly a decade touring with other projects before landing in Nashville — armed with the vocal chops of an established pro, the fighting spirit of an independent musician, and quick-witted humor that belied the sad tone of her ballads.

Callie creates a musical tapestry that effortlessly captures that classic and rootsy nostalgia, coupled with her own contemporary twists, sharp songwriting, and the expressive singing of an artist who has truly found her voice.

About Jerry Holthouse

Music editor for Nashville.com. Jerry Holthouse is a content writer, songwriter and a graphic designer. He owns and runs Holthouse Creative, a full service creative agency. He is an avid outdoorsman and a lover of everything music. You can contact him at JerryHolthouse@Nashville.com

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