It seems as though every decade has its teen music idols and our time is no different. Cali, a favorite of the Radio Disney Network has jumped into the spotlight to join contemporaries such as Katelyn Tarver and Miley Cyrus. Whether these young women eventually become as well known as predecessors such as, Rachael Lampa, Rebecca St James and Stacie Orrico remains to be seen.
Tarver’s music pulls more at the heartstrings with love songs whereas Cali’s tunes are more firmly planted in dance/pop. For the most part Cali’s songs appeal to the mostly pre-teenage set. Her music taps into the five year old through fourteen year old girl audience. Think of Cali as ZoeGirl divided by three.
Cali who co-wrote six of the tracks from her self titled CD takes pride in the fact that her songs go beyond mere casual dance music and are considered good enough to be used in dance routines. She says, “My music has a hardcore good beat. I am trying to bring that pop element and putting a message behind it. I want it (her music) to stand out and make a difference.”
“Get Up” the number one track has a companion video that will soon appear on the Gospel Music Channel and can be viewed on her website or myspace site. The video was shot in a small town outside Nashville. The theme involves the young singer in trying to lift people’s spirits by encouraging them to get up and dance. The song becomes a metaphor for triumphing over life’s difficult situations. Cali says, “Get Up is one of my favorite songs because it is fun, energetic and you can dance to it.”
The techno grooved “Come Go With Me” with its programmed strings and funky megaphone vocals along with the harder edged “Can It Be” should attract a stronger following than the lead track “Get It Up”. The two songs evoke a stronger emotional response. Cali also pushes out more with “Come Go With Me” and “Can It Be”. This CD was designed primarily for a general market audience but “Can It Be” presents the boldest statement of faith. The lyrics contrast two different ways of approaching life. The first approach is to struggle alone, while slipping “on the ladder of faith”. The second approach is to turn to someone who is always there and can be relied on. Although the song makes no specific mention of Christ or God, it does open the door for the singer to share her faith when it is appropriate to do so.
“If I could, in a perfect world I would want to share my life with every single fan that I come into contact with. I do care about whom they are, what they are going through and want to be there beside them,” Cali says.
The young singer is not the least bit intimidated about serving as a role model for today’s youth. “That doesn’t scare me at all. I want to be a role model for kids out there. It is pretty exciting and is something that I am willing to take on,” she says.
Cali also is not afraid to be raw and emotionally bare before her fans. In her song, “Are You Listening” the singer asks difficult questions and wonders aloud why answers aren’t forthcoming. With a good remix, “Are You Listening” could be a blockbuster hit for both general market and Christian radio. Cali’s emotive vocals combine with thoughtful lyrics. What is needed on this song is a stronger supporting cast of musicians.
The CD is a photo album of Cali’s life. “It tells my whole story. I really put myself and my stories out there,” she says. The song “Sound So Good” provides a musical biopic of her teenage years. “It talks about a relationship I had with a guy in high school. It wasn’t a healthy relationship but I kept running back to him even though I knew he wasn’t fulfilling what I needed. That (the song) is really special to me because it tells my story,” says the singer.
The closing track “Never Let Me Go” brings her passionate heartfelt vocals to the forefront once again and is a tune that holds a lot of promise.
Although Cali is a self confessed lover of dance music this reviewer would question if that is the strongest card she has to play. As you listen to the R&B flavored “Shine” or pop driven tunes such as “Just Because” and the Scott Krippayne authored “Wonderful Crazy” Cali climbs from being an ordinary singer to being a very, very promising young artist. With the dance tracks, her voice often takes a backseat to music that frankly is quite ordinary. With the aforementioned songs, you get an opportunity to hear her vocals and the lady has a very pretty voice.
After Cali’s publicist, Brian Mayes arranged a meeting between the young singer and the Disney Corporation, the entertainment conglomerate agreed to bring her into the fold as one of their incubator artists.
A Cali fan club was founded by one die hard fan and she is besieged both by mail and in person at her concerts. Fans seek out her advice on a variety of subjects including boy problems, self esteem challenges and spiritual issues.
The Christian music scene and our youth could not ask for a better role model than a young woman who volunteers her time with Young Life, an organization that goes into high schools to establish relationships with students. As Cali says, “We get to know the kids on a personal level so we can earn the right to lead them to Christ.”
Copyright © 2007 Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved. This material may not be redistributed without prior written permission from Joe Montague. Joe Montague is an internationally published freelance journalist / photographer.