How Honesty Drove Callista Clark's Debut Album Real to Me: The Way I Feel

At 19 years old, country singer-songwriter Callista Clark is already making quite the mark on the genre, and her debut album Real to Me: The Way I Feel is the perfect example of everything she's capable of.

Callista started writing the album when she was just 14, and its tracks beautifully capture all of the swirling emotions of teenage life and the challenges of being told you're too young to know any better—and not having your feelings trusted because of it. Callista's voice soars across its 10 tracks, making for a heartbreak album you'll relate to at any age, and we had the opportunity to learn all about the album and its origins from Callista herself.

Sweety High: What does the album name Real to Me: The Way I Feel mean to you? Why did "Real to Me" feel just right as the title track for this collection of songs?

Callista Clark: To me, this album is all about honesty and owning the way you feel. I started writing this album when I was 14 and questioned whether anyone would want to hear what I had to say. I kept writing and realized that I do have stories and valid feelings, and I wanted to share them with other people. Hopefully, this album will be something that is relatable to all ages. The song "Real to Me" is a response to people telling you that you're not old enough to be in love, have your heart broken, or know what you want to do with your life when you're young. I wanted to name my album after that song so I could show that those feelings are real and valid no matter your age.

Callista Clark the real me album art

(Image courtesy of Big Machine Records)


SH: What would you say are the main themes of Real to Me: The Way I Feel? What kind of journey do you hope to take listeners on with the album?

CC: There are a few heartbreak songs on this album, a few confidence-boosting songs and some fun songs. I really wanted this album to be something you can turn up in your car and jam to no matter what mood you're in. Even if the song lyrics are sad, I wanted to convey an underlying theme of strength and empowerment.


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SH: What are the things that are the most "real" to you at the moment? How are they guiding you in life?

CC: Being myself and trusting my gut about things. At the end of the day, it's my story, my life and my career. I am learning how to balance others' needs and opinions along with my own.

Callista Clark the real me headshot

(Photo credit: Chelsea Thompson)


SH: What is your favorite song on the album? Why?

CC: I've got two! The title track "Real To Me" will always be special because I wrote it as I was realizing my stories and feelings were valid. It helped me find myself as an artist. "It's 'Cause I Am" is another favorite. It was my first single ever at country radio! It changed my life, and every time I play it, it makes me so excited. I see everyone's faces light up. It brings people joy, and that is my biggest goal.


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SH: What does it mean to you to finally be getting your debut album out into the world? How do these songs represent you at this moment in time?

CC: Having my first album out is something that I have always dreamed of. I have been singing my whole life and working towards this goal. I knew that I wanted to write something that was bold, unique and unapologetically me. This album is about being confident in who you are and your feelings. That's something that I hope everyone can relate to.

Callista Clark the real me smiling in yellow dress

(Photo credit: Chelsea Thompson)


SH: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

CC: Thank you so much! I hope this album is comforting to anyone who needs it. I hope y'all love it.

Callista Clark looking back with guitar

(Photo credit: Chelsea Thompson)


For more of today's top releases, click HERE to read our interview with Maisie Peters on her new track, "Not Another Rockstar."