Nashville’s Callie McCullough, a modern songwriter inspired by timeless bluegrass and old-school country music, has released the gently-rolling “Five Dollar Pearls.” The song which debuted earlier this week with The Bluegrass Situation is the lead single from her forthcoming After Midnight EP which is expected to be released in winter (exact date TBA).
Click here to listen to “Five Dollar Pearls” which highlights McCullough’s remarkable sound that’s anchored by her gorgeous voice and showcases an Alison Krauss-worthy tone.
“The idea for this song came to me late one night after someone I was dating hesitated to introduce me to his parents,” Callie told The Bluegrass Situation. “The melody and the second verse spilled out in a matter of seconds but when I sat down about a week later with my songwriting buddy Ryan Sorestad to bring it to life, it became deeper than that. It’s that secret fear we have all felt; that some part of who you are or where you come from is not good enough, or won’t measure up in the world. I’ve always been the loud, bold girl with a bit of a wild streak and never the ingénue or the sweet, shy, perfect girl. It’s something I’ve struggled with in learning to be myself.”
Callie has chased her unique muse for years, making contemporary roots music that nods to the legends who came before her. With After Midnight, McCullough makes her debut as a solo artist. The record was tracked in her adopted hometown of Nashville, where she resettled after spending nearly a decade on the road with other projects. Emotional and eclectic, After Midnight also features first-class picking from members of the Grammy-winning bluegrass band Union Station and western-swing super-group the Time Jumpers. The result is a collaborative and intimate EP that laces McCullough's voice with touches of dobro, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and acoustic guitar, mixing the fresh energy of a rising star with the finesse of a hotshot backing band.
Born third generation in a musical family, her childhood home was filled with inspiration, and it wasn't long before McCullough was contributing to the family business, landing gigs at 14 years old, and forming a duo with her Mom at 16. Armed with an unforgettable voice, she headed to Europe skipping the college graduation ceremony, to play festivals for oversized crowds night after night.
"When I first moved to Nashville, I didn't know what I was going to do," admits the singer/songwriter, whose love of expressive, swooning ballads was inspired by artists like Krauss, Parton, Eva Cassidy, Keith Whitley and Don Williams. "I was writing songs for other people and playing gigs so I could pay the rent. I was taking time to figure out who I was."
To bring those songs to life, McCullough turned to Nashville-based producer and multi-instrumentalist Dustin Olyan, who helped assemble a top-tier studio band whose members included Grammy-winning banjo/guitar player Ron Block, upright bassist Barry Bales, dobro player Brent Burke, drummer Billy Thomas, accordion and piano player Jeff Taylor, and celebrated fiddler Stuart Duncan. Recorded in iconic Nashville-area studios like the Tracking Room and the Sound Emporium (as well as Olyan's home studio, the Tone Distillery), After Midnight blends hushed, nocturnal soundscapes with traditional influences, contemporary twists, sharp songwriting, and the expressive singing of a front-woman who's truly found her own voice.