By Krissie Rutherford
Arts & Entertainment
Aug 29, 2007
As soon as she graduated from Humber College, Lisa McCallum packed her bags and headed to the birthplace of country music.
After less than two years in Nashville, Tennessee, the Oakville native has signed a writing deal with Roger Murrah's Castle Street Music Inc., a record company that works with country music stars like Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride and Sarah Evans.
"It was overwhelming," McCallum, 24, told The Oakville Beaver of her recent signing.
"They sat down with me and just said they'd like to offer me a writing deal. I was very excited. It kind of didn't feel real, because it was something I'd been trying for a year and a half."
It may have seemed like a long wait, but compared to most artists, McCallum is ahead of the game.
"They say it's a five-year town here. It takes, on average, that long to sign a deal, so I feel really blessed that I made it in such a short time."
McCallum got noticed because of a well-written e-mail that caught the eye of company vice-president Lisa Murrah.
"I just said I was from Canada, and I'd love to come by and play them some of my songs," McCallum said. "I told them I was visiting presently - they make time for you because they think you might have to leave next week.
"It's one of the tricks from around here, say that and you can get yourself in," she added, laughing.
Murrah's Vice-president, Creative, Dan Hodges began meeting with McCallum, and after about three months, they inked a deal.
"Lisa is a tremendous talent, and we're excited that she's decided to become a part of our team," said Murrah's Senior Vice-President, Paul Compton.
Murrah's is an independent company that began 17 years ago and has since built a reputation for producing quality work and artists.
McCallum one day hopes to sign a record deal and sing her own tunes, but for now, she's focused on writing for others.
"I just want to have a lot of cuts on the radio with major country artists," she said. "That's the goal."
In the early stages with Murrah's, she's writing mainly for new artists looking for songs to break into the industry.
"I love it. I just write songs every day, I try to come up with songs every day," she said, noting her inspiration comes from, "Anywhere. It could be from just reading books and movies or just watching people, that kind of thing."
She's also "doing the artist thing" on the side, playing gigs in various venues in Nashville - and hoping she'll get another break in the future.
"My whole plan was to come here, write songs and get a record deal eventually," McCallum said.
"If you want to go for something, just go for it 100 per cent, and you're bound to get it at some point."
McCallum describes her style as new country mixed with a bit of folk. She began writing at age 13, and has been singing her whole life.
A graduate of Humber College's jazz, vocal performance program, she recognizes most kids growing up gravitate towards pop music as opposed to country, but she was drawn to it.
"In high school I just started for some reason watching CMT (Country Music Television) and I just liked it, and I thought I could sing it really well," she said.
The White Oaks Secondary School grad had a musician friend named Victoria Banks who moved to Nashville eight years earlier. She encouraged McCallum to give it a try.
"She kind of guided me," McCallum said. "I had no idea how hard it would be or anything, which is good, because maybe I would have turned around.
"Once I got here, I just knew that I had to stick it out. I feel like it's out of persistence that these things happen, so you just have to keep going for it."
Yep, that's my sis. I think it's pretty obvious that not only was she blessed with all of the talent in the family, but she also landed the good looks too.
I once had my picture in the Oakville Beaver. I was standing there at Trafalgar Village, getting an autograph from Eddie Shack... And that's about the extent of my fame in this world.
To hear why she's dominating Music City, check out: