Photos by Trey Clark
A little girl. Just 10 years old. One push from her grandmother and one more from her mother made her step forward. Two generations of choir singers in her family, and they told her that she would be an opera singer. Beneath the warm lights of Temple Baptist Church, Cadie Calhoun first sang.
Calhoun's introduction to the world continues today. The former Oak Grove student is on the cusp of releasing her new record to the world. "Unhitch" is seven songs of deep reflection. Aided by Margaret Becker's punchy, bright production, Calhoun lays out the story of her life. The simply titled "Ok" makes a great refrain. However, in the context of the shifting sands of relationships, those two letters speak myriad emotions. Over the seven songs that comprise "Unhitch," Calhoun runs the gamut and never misses an opportunity to stand out.
Calhoun is a singer unafraid to press the drama in any of her songs. Listen to the soulful strains of "Wrong" and you hear a skillful writer who is pushing her fears on to paper. She does this not necessarily to be heard, but rather to propel those who are listening to take the same chances she does. It takes a lot of guts to set out for the bright lights of Nashville at age 17. It takes a lot more to do anything from selling merch to playing endless strings of honky tonks. It is that sense of empowerment that provides the beating heart behind most of the record.
"Unhitch" is a thoroughly modern record incorporating Electronic trickery ("Close,") and even embracing funk ("Take It All Mister"). It flows on buoyant Pop production as Becker even uses Calhoun's dulcet voice in the background for effects ("Charlie"). The songs find that fine line between Country and Pop. Most tracks gallop along at a strong enough pace to woo Country listeners eager for more Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves, while the whirring drum machines, loping bass and slinky guitar figures showcase her potential to crossover.
In the end, no matter how the instruments and effects are arranged, everything about "Unhitch" hinges on Calhoun's powerful voice. As she prepares for a tour that will take her from Nashville, through Memphis and due south to Hattiesburg May 11, every note of "Unhitch" fulfills the promise of that first step that she took years ago.
Mik Davis is the record store manager at T- BONE's Records and Cafe and a GED instructor.