Calum Graham just turned 23 at the end of October this year, and has already enjoyed a career that would be the envy of artists double his age.
Born in British Columbia and raised in High River, Alta., this guitarist and singer/songwriter has released four acclaimed albums, won major musical competitions, performed at the Olympic games in both Vancouver and London, and has racked up phenomenal views on YouTube.
Canadian singer/songwriter Calum Graham
This past year, Calum was named one of the top 30 guitarists under 30 by Acoustic Guitar Magazine.
“He’s the most promising young guitarist I’ve seen,” said Andy McKee, one of today’s most popular acoustic guitarists. “His command of the guitar is really impressive.”
Calum’s musical journey first took flight at age 13 when he started playing the guitar. Five years later in the summer of 2010, he attended the Canadian Guitar Festival and entered the prestigious Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar competition. The judges awarded Calum with a first place finish after being impressed with his original compositions.
“This was one of the best experiences of my entire life,” he said. “It really inspired me to keep going with my music.”
His winning performance has garnered almost 1 million views on YouTube.
As Calum Graham’s name continued to grow in Alberta and across Canada for his guitar work and musicianship, he proved that his talents weren’t limited to his extraordinary ability to play the guitar.
In 2011, Graham won the Canada’s Walk of Fame nationwide “A Song For Canada” contest based on his poetic acuteness. His winning poem was used in the song “I’m Here, (A Song For Canada)”.
The song was performed by Chantal Kreviazuk and co-written by Graham, Raine Maida(Our Lady Peace) and Stephen Moccio (“I Believe”, 2010 Vancouver Olympics theme song/”Wrecking Ball”, Miley Cyrus).”
“Calum’s entry resonated strongly among the judges. His poem celebrates the cultural mosaic that is Canada,” said Moccio. “He has captured the diversity of this country – something that we as a nation are renowned for and proud of.”
In the late winter of 2012, and with two albums already under his belt (Sunny Side Up(2009), Indivisibility (2012), Graham teamed up with iconic Fingerstyle Guitarist Don Ross. The result was the instrumental acoustic duet album titled 12:34.
Recorded at famed “Metalworks Studios” (Prince, Tina Turner, RUSH, Drake), and released through CandyRat Records (world’s biggest acoustic guitar label), the album featured six originals by Graham, three by Ross, and a cover of OutKast’s hit song, “Hey Ya”.
Not long after the release of 12:34, Graham saw a loyal following begin to grow and it wasn’t long before his unique sound started to find a wide and appreciative audience.
In November of 2013, Graham released a solo instrumental album titled Phoenix Rising (CandyRat Records). The title song has already generated over 830,000 hits, with other songs also notching impressive numbers. The success of the album enabled Graham to expand his global fan base and he soon began touring internationally, both on his own and with the likes of Don Ross and Andy McKee.
Graham is currently preparing to record his fifth studio album. Adding an extra dimension to his compositions, the album will introduce Graham’s soulful vocals to his audience for the first time. The album is set to be released in April 2015 and will feature a combination of his exemplary guitar work and smooth vocals punctuated throughout with elements of funk, motown, pop and blues.
With Graham bringing an innovative sound to the industry, it wasn’t long before Canada’s top booking agency, The Feldman Agency, also counted themselves a fan of Graham’s music. So much in fact, that in July 2014, they decided to partner Graham with renowned Canadian producer Gavin Brown (Billy Talent, Metric, The Tragically Hip) on his “Sessions X” series. The series was recorded at Toronto’s Five-Star “Noble Street Studios” and features Graham alongside a number of acclaimed musicians including; Tears For Fears, Feist, Three Days Grace, Metric, and Ron Sexsmith.
The series is expected to be released in the Fall of 2014, along with two singles “Burning Up” and “Tabula Rasa” (CandyRat Records).
If you want to hear Calum’s exemplary guitar playing skills, visit his YouTube channel and follow him on Twitter. You can also like his Facebook page.
1. How would you describe your personal brand?
Contemporary fingerstyle guitar with a modern edge (using effects, vocals, & loops) bringing a niche genre of music to a mainstream audience.
2. What sets you apart from other artists?
My extensive training in classical and fingerstyle guitar gives my original music the advantage of having a very strong melodic and harmonic foundation. This has allowed me to open up shows, tour, and record albums with some of the best artists/guitarists in my field (ex. Tommy Emmanuel, Andy McKee, Don Ross).
3. Where do you see yourself in five years time?
I see myself taking my music to a world stage by touring internationally, continuing to collaborating with a plethora of top-tier artists, continuing to develop my craft as a musician/songwriter/guitarist, and ultimately, continuing to release great music for my fans.
4. What made you interested in the music industry?
To be honest, it was never about the music industry. I was first interested in the music. When I was 13 years old, I picked up my first guitar, and haven’t been able to put it down ever since. 10 years later I’m still a guitar nerd at heart, and there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t play my guitar. My love for music overtime eventually developed into a career in the music industry.
5. What is success to you? What does it feel like?
Success to me is always about connecting with my fans. It’s my fans that are pushing me to write the best music I’m capable of. Because of my fans, I’m able to do what I love and see the world through sharing music – and to me that feels pretty amazing.