Callaghan is a country music singer-songwriter originally from Lincolnshire, United Kingdom. She moved to the US and has gone from strength to strength as she has performed successful house concerts which led to her selling 10,000 copies of her album as well as a loyal fanbase. With a new album ‘A History of Now’ out now and an extensive headline UK tour in 2016 we interviewed Callaghan about her material, her family and the world of country music. Enjoy…

JLTT: What was the first country music song you heard and who was it by? How important was that song in your career?

C: One of my earliest memories is being taken to a John Denver concert in Manchester when I was 5. I was such a big fan of his music and knew all the words to his songs. I still love the energy and positive message of his songs about embracing life and the wonder of the world. I recently recorded a version of “Annie’s Song” on an acoustic album that I’m working on, and it felt very special to get to record such an iconic song that brings back so many happy memories for me.

Are/were your parents musical?

I’m very lucky to have grown up in a musical house. My Dad plays the guitar and taught me my first chords on the guitar and piano, and both my parents were very into music, encouraging me and my sisters to all take up instruments from a young age. I’m really grateful to my parents for how much of a role music played in my childhood and what it has given me.

What musical instruments do you play?

Piano, guitar and flute.

Why do you think the genre of country music has grown in popularity in the UK?

I think a lot of that popularity is down to Bob Harris and his Radio 2 country show that has brought so much new music to people in the UK. It’s also such a wide genre when you consider that Willie Nelson and Taylor Swift are both called Country. It’s a genre that really lets you experiment with sounds and encompasses such a wide range of styles and music that there’s something to fit everyone’s taste.

 Do you perform solo shows?

At most of my shows I usually have at least one other player with me – usually keyboard, guitar or cello. I really like the feeling of being on stage with another musician and playing off each other. It’s amazing what just one or two other instruments can bring to a live show and allows me to experiment more with creating different sounds on stage.

Which of your songs show you at a) your most relaxed b) your most vulnerable c) your happiest?

Every song in a live show has its own emotion attached to it and it can sometimes depend on how the audience feels that night or what’s been going on that day which changes a songs intensity. I have some joyful happy songs that are so much fun to play live and hear the audience singing along to like “Best Year” which celebrates life and following your dreams, and some more reflective songs like “When you loved me” which is all about looking back and remembering the feeling of falling in love for the first time.  That song was inspired by an 85 year old friend in Atlanta who was the grandmother of a family i lived with for a while when i first went to the US, and a story she had told me one night about the first man she had loved when she was 17 in New York. She’s sadly not around anymore, but that song means a lot to me and I remember her each time I perform it.

Where are you planning to tour next?

I’ll be touring all over the UK in March including going to some places I’ve never performed in before like Edinburgh, so I’m really excited. I’ll also be bringing some amazing musicians on the road with me – my cellist from Atlanta, Pete Rinaldi on guitar and Adam Wakeman on keys. All of the dates are on my website at

Do you have any favoured stage instruments?

The guitar and piano both offer very different things on stage. The guitar is great for rocking out on but the piano will always be my first love because it was the first instrument I learnt when I started writing songs and there’s something so soulful about the sound of a piano.

 What was it like working with Grammy-nominated Shawn Mullins?

It was a really amazing experience to work with an artist who I have looked up to for so long and been so influenced by. He is an amazing songwriter and producer and I learnt so much by getting to be in the studio with him and go on tours with him across America. I’ll always be grateful to him for giving me my start in the US.

 Is there a radio DJ (of any era) that you are particularly fond of?

I’m a huge fan of Bob Harris. He has been such a supporter of my music for many years and is just one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met.

 If the producers of the television show ‘Nashville’ asked to use one of your songs in the series what song would you like them to use and why? Who would you like to perform it?

Haha, I’d be more than happy for them to use any of my songs!

 You have worked in Nashville for a while now. How was that experience for you?

I have lived in Nashville for the last 3 years and love getting to spend time there. Being near my producer and co-writer Dennis Matkosky is great for collaborating on new material and it’s a very friendly, calming city to live in. You only have to drive about 10 minutes in any direction to be in open fields which I really love.

 Do you have a favourite venue in the world and where is it?

There’s a venue in Atlanta called the Red Clay Music Foundry which I do a birthday show in every year and thats one of the most special shows of the year because it’s run by Eddie Owen who gave me my first ever show in the US and it’s a really gorgeous theatre.

I’ve been lucky enough to play in a lot of really wonderful venues though in the US and UK and I’m always discovering new ones!
Could you tell me about ‘Noah’s Song’ Is there a person in your life called Noah?
Noah’s Song was written for my nephew who is now 5 years old.  I wrote it when he was still a baby, all about the hopes and dreams you have for a child. It’s a very special song to me.
What music was playing in your house when you were growing up?
I was a child of the 90’s so I was listening to a lot of pop music and singers like Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, and Whitney Houston. I loved anyone with a big voice and loved the presence those women had on stage. I was also influenced by the Brit pop bands my older sister was listening to  like Blur, Oasis and Pulp. Then my parents played older music like Johnny Cash and John Denver, so it was quite a varied musical upbringing!
 During your writing process what comes first the lyric or the melody?
It completely depends on the song. Sometimes there’s a really strong melody I have in my head that leads me to a lyric idea, or a particular subject that I set out to write about, or maybe just one or two lines of lyrics that I like and build a song around.
Which of your songs are the best to a) dance to b) drive to?
Hopefully there’s something for every mood on my album. I try include songs that make people want to dance, make them reflect, or perhaps even make them cry. I think music is all about experiencing a range of different emotions and being taken on a journey.
 Two tickets arrive to see an artist you’ve always wanted to see live. Who is it, what venue is the show and what song/s are you hoping to hear?
I would love to see Elton John perform live. I’ve been a huge fan of his for as long as I can remember and taught myself to play the piano using his song books. I wouldn’t care where I saw him – just an empty room with him behind a piano singing any of his songs would be incredible!
Which of your songs do you think would make a good female/male duet? (Please give your reason for this)
It’s always tricky making a song into a duet if it hasn’t been specifically written for that. I have just finished writing a new song with a good friend of mine called Erick Baker that we wrote as a duet for the two of us and it’s one of my favourite songs to perform live at the moment.
How would you describe your music or sound?
I think it’s difficult for an artist to try and describe their own music. It’s up to the listeners to decide if they like it or not. There are too many restrictive categories and genres that artists feel they have to put themselves in – acoustic, singer-songwriter pop is about the closest I can get to describing the sound!
Is there an album which has ended up being essential listening for you? Why this album?
It would be too hard to pick just one album because there are so many favourites, and quite often they change depending on what mood I’m in. Two that I always go back to are Shawn Mullins “Soul’s Core” and Coldplay “Rush of Blood To The Head”. Both very different albums but I never get tired of listening to them.
Glenn Sargeant
Callaghan’s new album ‘A History of Now’ is out now. Callaghan will be embarking on a headline UK tour in March 2016 which will stop at the following venues: 
Thursday 3rd March 2016 – The Venue, Derby, United Kingdom
Saturday 5th March 2016 – The Basement, York, United Kingdom
Wednesday 9th March 2016 – The Ballroom at Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Thursday 10th March 2016 – Fallow Cafe, Manchester, United Kingdom
Friday 11th March 2016 – South Devon Arts Centre, Totnes, United Kingdom
Saturday 12th March 2016 – Country 2 Country Festival 2016, 17.15pm at Town Square, O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, United Kingdom
Sunday 13th March 2016 – Country 2 Country Festival 2016, 15:10pm at Big Entrance, O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, United Kingdom
Sunday 13th March 2016 – Country 2 Country Festival 2016, Time TBC at Under Apple Tree, O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, United Kingdom
Monday 14th March 2016 – Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Wednesday 16th March 2016 – The Forge, Camden, London, United Kingdom
Friday 18th March 2016 – Music Hall, Ramsgate, United Kingdom
Saturday 19th March 2016 – Town Hall, Kirton-In-Lindsey, United Kingdom
In addition, Callaghan will be performing at Under The Apple Tree Festival in Silverstone Woodlands, Buckingham, United Kingdom. The festival is curated by legendary broadcaster Bob Harris and she will be on The Under The Apple Tree Sessions Stage on Sunday 29th May 2016. For more information visit the official festival website here:
For more information on Callaghan and her music visit her website here:
(Thanks to Callaghan for taking part in the interview and to Steve Rose at Emms Publicity for help with this article)