Abbie Callahan, the Iowa-raised pop Americana songwriter, has just released her latest single, ‘Love Hangover’. A superb track which was written during the first summer she spent in Nashville.
Abbie started out as an artist playing at local country fairs and busking. At fifteen she appeared on The Voice and then American Idol at seventeen.
She is is now set to graduate with a song-writing degree from Belmont University where she was awarded the Ashley Gorley songwriting scholarship. Her years of experience truly shine through on her latest track.
Her voice is both punchy and sweet and stands out confidently against the backdrop of groovy guitars and backing vocals.
Abbie beautifully combines rootsy, Americana elements with modern country music to create a sound that is fresh and dynamic.
Her music pulls you in and holds your attention attention. The infectious rhythms and melodies will have you singing along by the end of the track!
It was a real pleasure to speak to Abbie about her new track, the music she grew up listening to and the songs she would love to put a country spin on…
Was there a defining moment in your life when you decided that you wanted to pursue a career in music?
When I went to my first concert with my mom and my grandma, I was 14 and we went to see Dolly Parton. As soon as she got on stage, I turned to my mom and said “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life”. That’s the first time I remember being 100% sure I wanted to pursue a career in music.
How would you describe your sound to somebody who has never listened to your music before?
I would describe my sound as rootsy, pop country. I am really inspired by Tyler Childers and Sierra Farrell, so I have a similar Americana sound.
I also am studying commercial songwriting at Belmont which has pushed me to write more radio, poppy, hit songs. So I would say my sound is a mix of the two.
What sort of music did you grow up listening to and how has it impacted you?
I grew up listening to country radio in the car when I was really young but then we started to put the pop station on more when I was in middle school and high school.
My uncle, the only other musical person in my family, would bring his guitar to bonfires when we camped and he would play songs like ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane‘ and ‘King Of The Road‘ which I still play at my original shows today.
I can see how all of these different worlds influenced me to combine them all and make my rootsy, pop country music.
Can you tell us the story behind your latest track ‘Love Hangover’?
I wrote ‘Love Hangover’ the first summer I was in Nashville. I was embracing country music and going line dancing every week. I hadn’t tried to write a country song but I was going through a breakup so I was writing a lot.
I had the title ‘Love Hangover’ written in my notes app so I just started writing keeping in mind that I wanted to make a country song that was authentic to me at the time, and the track was born.
Do you remember the first song that you ever wrote and what it was about?
I think one of the first songs I ever wrote was in high school, it was called ‘Peace Will Always Appear’ and I wrote it because I was being bullied by some mean girls. I wrote it when the main girl graduated and I never had to see her again.
How have you changed as a songwriter since studying for a song-writing degree? What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to aspiring songwriters?
I complete my degree this spring and I’ve leaned so much throughout my time at Belmont. I had never co-written before college or even met another songwriter.
My biggest piece of advice… that’s tough! Maybe to just get out of your own way, don’t stop writing because you think what you’re working on isn’t that good or you could write it better.
Get it out and keep writing, don’t edit your way through, while writing a song. You can edit it after but get the authentic ideas out, that’s where the gold is.
What did your time on The Voice and American Idol teach you?
The main thing that it taught me was to be in the moment and not take judgement too personally. I was 15 when I was on The Voice and 17 on Idol. I was so wrapped up in the show and in being the best I could be, that I didn’t focus on how cool the whole experience really was. I wish I took it all in when I was there.
I also leaned not to take judgment to heart. They had their own agendas on the shows. I just didn’t fit the slot they were looking to fill that season but that doesn’t take anything away from me or my talent. I took the rejection so personally when I didn’t need to.
If you could turn any song into a country song, which would you pick and why?
Oh my gosh maybe a One Direction song, this is for 12 year old me, maybe 18, What A Feeling, or Where Do Broken Hearts go by 1D. That would just hit. Or if we could see something country from Bruno Mars, that would be so different and cool.
Do you have a dream festival or venue that you would like to play at and why?
My dream venue right now is Red Rocks in Colorado. It seems so intimate and creative. I feel like authenticity is valued highly at that venue and it seems like everyone is really listening to the lyrics being sung.
What can we expect from you within the next six months? Any releases planned? Future gigs?
I have 4 new singles coming out this year, they are each going to be 2-3 months apart and I’m also working on an album which will come out later this year or early next year.
For now I’m playing shows around Nashville, I play 5-6 shows a week here but I am planning a tour for later this year so stay tuned for dates and locations!
By Eveline Vouillemin