If you haven't heard of Callista Clark yet, it's a name you'll want to become familiar with as the 18-year-old is storming the country music charts and collecting a die-hard fanbase along the way.
MORE: Inside country music singers' jaw-dropping homes
The Georgia native has an undeniable talent and caught the attention of manager-extraordinaire Scooter Braun when she was just 13 years old after uploading a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's Have You Ever Seen The Rain to her Facebook.
WATCH: Callista Clark unleashes powerhouse vocals in It's 'Cause I Am
Fast-forward five years and Callista is now signed to Big Machine Label Group, which boasts some of the biggest country singers on its roster including Tim McGraw, has scored a Top 20 hit with her debut single, It's 'Cause I Am, and is playing to sold-out crowds across the globe.
And not only do her powerhouse vocals help her stand out from the bustling country music scene – but her impeccable style is getting her noticed too.Callista spoke exclusively to HELLO! US at this year's C2C Festival - which will return from the 10-12 March 2023 - about her love affair with music, fashion, and her first heartbreak.
Callista performed at this year's C2C Festival
How does it feel to be so young and come through the ranks of such an established music scene?
"When I started writing songs that was a really hard thing. I had my first co-write in Nashville when I was 14 with two legendary writers, and I didn't know what a co-write was, I'd only written with myself and my mom before that.
"I was super scared and super intimidated because I didn't know what to write about – I didn't drink, I didn't drive, none of those things so I was like, 'What do we write a song about?' And my co-writer Laura Veltz said, 'That's what's going to make you stand out'. So, [being younger] is something I feel gives me a fresh perspective on certain things."
Callista was discovered when she was just 13
Your record label, Big Machine Label Group, has some incredible talent on its books. Do you feel pressure to match their success?
"I've honestly never felt like that. I've been working with Big Machine and my manager Scooter [Braun] since I was 13, and they've been super patient and super smart, and very encouraging through this whole experience with me. We're extremely close and everybody has been so supportive since my music came out and even before that.
"Honestly, I feel like everybody in country music is the same, they're all so humble and so genuine and everyone that I've gotten the chance to meet has been the exact same way."
A lot of country songs are very personal, and many involve heartbreak, have you experienced your first heartbreak yet?
"I've definitely been through the relationship thing and the heartbreaks and being super heartbroken. It's actually pretty funny, some covers that I've done, you can see there's one that I posted where my hair is on the side of my head, I was wearing a T-shirt and there are tears on my sleeve - I looked like a wreck but I posted it anyway, so I've definitely felt all the things.
Callista has already won herself an army of loyal fans
"But inspiration can come from anything. With my single, It's 'Cause I Am, we kind of framed that [song] like it was written to one specific guy or a relationship but it really wasn't. It was just the overall feeling like you weren't listened to or weren't understood or weren't given the chance to show somebody who you are and what you're capable of doing."
How are you coping with your growing fame?
"It can be intimidating at times and it's something you're constantly trying to figure out because it's different everywhere you go. But If I'm at the level where I'm 'famous' and people start to recognize me then I think that's a huge deal and I'm doing something right - it's really encouraging."
Is there anyone in the music industry you really admire?
"Jennifer Nettles - the lead singer of Sugarland. I met her once through a performing arts school I was in growing up - Georgia 4H Clovers and Company - she was the national spokesperson at the time, and she asked me to perform with her.
Callista's debut single made it into the country top 20 during its release in 2021
"I was 11 years old and she's one of my biggest influences. I've done a couple of other things with her since then and she's just always told me to be myself [because]no one can be me better than me, and it's so true, honestly."
Tim McGraw recently shared your video of you covering his song, My Best Friend. Is he an inspiration to you?
"Absolutely! I grew up listening to 80s and 90s country, if I'm being really honest that was it, that was all I listened to. So, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Garth Brooks, all of those, that's what I grew up listening to.
"[My Best Friend] is one of my favorite songs by him and I posted that really last minute a few months ago so I definitely wasn't expecting him to randomly share it, but it was so sweet."
Tim McGraw is a fan of Callista's incredible voice
So how would you respond if he said he'd love to collaborate with you?
"Heck yeah! In his video, he was like, 'You need to cover this', and someone from my team, well we're on the same label, so somebody from our team texted me and was like, 'Um, ???' and I was like, 'Absolutely!' But we'll just have to see. I would absolutely be down to sing with Tim McGraw."
With your fanbase growing and a lot of younger girls now looking up to you, do you feel responsible to be a role model tothem?
"For me, I'm a songwriter and I'm very particular about what I write about and what I say in my songs, and what I don't say. I feel it goes extremely hand-in-hand and it's something that I really care about and is important to me.
"I would love to be a role model for anyone that looks up to me. I think it's a huge honor and it's really great that I have the chance to do that when all I'm doing is writing songs about things that I feel."
Callista's incredible style hasn't gone unnoticed either
You have great style, have you always loved fashion?
"I have definitely always cared about fashion. Growing up I was really shy and so singing was quite challenging for me but I knew I loved it and so it was something that I had to learn to get more comfortable with.
"Igrew up watching Project Runway and What Not To Wear, so I always said if I couldn't get the courage or break through the nerves to sing then I was going to be a stylist or something with fashion because I love it so much."
Do you style yourself?
"Yes, I've worked with a stylist before, her name is Tiffany Gifford, and she kind of works with everyone, like Miranda [Lambert] and Maddie and Tae. She's done a lot of Opry looks for me - so I'm definitely giving her credit for that.
Callista has worked with stylist Tiffany Gifford (pictured) in the past
"But I pretty much style myself for everything and there's a lot of outfits needed, at least two a day when I'm on the road. But if I'm booked for all these things then I'm going to look good, I'm going to dress good."
Do you believe your style helps you stand out?
"I feel like it's something that makes me stand out for sure because I care about fashion a lot. I was talking about this with my team the other day because genuinely when I hear about a big trip the first thing I think about is what I'm going to wear - itaffects my mood and just how I feel about the performance if I like what I'm wearing."
Callista's backup career a stylist
Are you hoping to branch out into anything else, like a clothing line or even a book?
"I think that would be awesome if my fanbase allows that. I love being creative in any way. I journal a lot, poetry goes hand-in-hand with songwriting so I do all of those things. But I really love fashion – anything creative and I'm there."
Where do you see yourself in five years?
"My next goal is to have a number one song on country radio. My first single we got to 17 and that was such a success and I'm so proud of it and my team. Being a new artist during quarantine is pretty much impossible, and the fact that I got to 17 without releasing anything before that is amazing and I'm so thankful for it.
Callista hopes to have a number one single
"But a number one single is definitely something on my list.
"I don't know when this will happen, but I really want to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry. I've played there six times now and I had my debut in July. I've told them how much it means to me and that I want to play there as much as they will have me. I love it there."
Callista Clark's debut collection, Real To Me, is out now via Big Machine Records.
Read more HELLO! US stories here
Like this story? Sign up to our HELLO! Mail newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.