“Honestly, I don’t know what I’m doing on the guitar,” singer-songwriter Cameron Calloway admits. “I know the basic C, G, A minor [chords], and I just move my hands around the neck. I just play.”
Inside a snug, stark white space within Emergency Arts, Calloway sits on a wooden cube, strumming his guitar. Despite his admission, he sounds good. Every pluck of his strings is amplified in the tiny room, and then his buttery vocals join in. This isn’t his practice space, but the singer comes to the Beat so often, it might as well be.
Since first stepping on a stage last fall, the 25-year-old Calloway has quickly gained steam playing open mics at the Beat and Money Plays. He’s also won the hearts of Downtown Project folks, recently earning an invitation to play a DTP-produced Sofar Sounds session. He draws from legends like John Lennon and Bob Marley, and turns to vocal powerhouses like Adele and Bruno Mars for more contemporary inspiration. “Deep down I feel like I have this hippie kind of spirit.”
Like a young, acoustic Maxwell, Calloway’s music is the perfect remedy for a rainy day—literal or otherwise. “Never mind what you read in the magazines/’Cause you will find nonsense on the TV screen/It’s designed only to kill your self-esteem/They try to fool you and me,” he croons on “Remind You.”
Despite his confident fashion sense—today he’s wearing a brown hat and button-down shirt—he concedes that, “Growing up I had self-esteem issues. I didn’t like the way I looked, I didn’t think I was cool. I realized it was just me being exposed to the TV and magazines.” As a response, Calloway wrote “Remind You.” “Learning to love who you are is not an easy process, but step by step you can get there.”
For someone who picked up a guitar just two years ago, Calloway credits his fast climb to the open-mic community, where he continues to play every week. “It’s beautiful,” Calloway says. “Everybody wants to work together, everybody helps each other out. We all want to be successful with this at the end of the day.”
Calloway says he eventually wants to find a full band to work with, getting him one step closer to his dream of playing festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo. But mainly, at the end of the day, Calloway says he wants to make uplifting, consciousness-raising music—the kind he says “takes you to a different frame of thinking.”
Cameron Calloway soundcloud.com