Combining a masterful voice with powerful lyrics and infectious originality, singer/songwriter Justin Caldwell’s jazz-injected pop music has earned him a rapidly growing worldwide fanbase.
Averaging 5 new countries each year and 50+ college shows, Caldwell is truly a model for the independent modern artist. His hybrid blend of pop and jazz has resulted in a number of Michael Buble, John Mayer, and Sting comparisons, and he’s performed for Top Pop artists Lionel Richie and Keith Urban, as well as celebrities Steve Forbes and Nicole Kidman.
In addition to his prolific onstage presence, Caldwell engineers and produces his own recordings; a skill developed from years of writing music for film and TV. Most recently, he has written original music for famous children’s books by Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Shel Silverstein, and his original music has been featured in ad campaigns for Nike, Visa, Honda, Curves, Tylenol, GMC, Ford and many more.
THE ABBREVIATED STORY…
You might catch him onstage wearing his baby blue Gretsch hollowbody, entertaining college crowds with his creative original songs and the stories behind them… or you might find him in the corner of some basement jazz club, building and improvising a vintaged melody with a trio of his favorite musicians.
Having performed on cruise ships and New York cabarets, sung in a cappella vocal groups, written children’s music for Korean children’s books… he’s one of the few independent artists who has never had to take a restaurant job. Caldwell’s varied musical history has produced a songwriter whose clever brand of jazz-injected pop music connects with fans of singer-songwriters, but who are looking for something different.
Paying tribute to jazz, reggae, even world music at times, Caldwell’s powerful vocals and dynamic performance keeps listeners guessing what comes next…and he likes it that way. “I always try to create music that’s smart, but not elitist; soulful, but never simple. In that sense, I’m just trying to follow the example of my biggest influences; Sting, Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, Kurt Elling.”
If you have an ear for something different – something smart, music that is equal parts deep and entertaining – you’ll love what Justin Caldwell is coming out with in his latest project, set to release in early 2012.
THE FULL STORY…
Justin Caldwell was born in Richardson, TX (a northern suburb of Dallas, Texas) to a professional storyteller mother and psychiatrist father. Early on, young Justin became attached to an old acoustic guitar he found laying in his dad’s office closet. With it he began writing his first songs, and still performs on stage with it today. In high school, Caldwell got his first taste of being on stage while performing with high school jazz vocal groups and in a local Dallas band. He and the band would perform weekends and during breaks from school, eventually opening for national touring acts such as All-Star United and The Supertones.
After graduating high school, Justin went to college with a full scholarship to the University of Arkansas in pursuit of an architectural degree. Reportedly, after hearing one of his first jazz big band compositions performed at the University, Caldwell decided to quit Architecture and pursue a career in music. After 4 semesters, he transfered to Belmont University in Nashville, TN to study music business, and music composition.
One of the most notable traits in Caldwell’s music is his ability to layer vocals and harmonies in his recordings. A skill developed from his time singing in a capella vocal bands in college and professionally. He dropped out of college at Belmont with one semester left after being offered a position in the professional 4-piece vocal band, Blue Jupiter. He relocated to New York City and during time off in the city, began to write music for film and TV. He would take whatever work he could get, often working for free, and at night would frequent the city’s nightclubs and music bars such as The Bitter End and The Blue Note, watching influential musicians such as Ryan Adams and Kurt Elling. In 2005, Caldwell moved back to Nashville to finish his degrees and begin his solo career. His experiences in college and New York led him to write some of his most commercially successful songs to date such as: “I’m Not Falling” and “Love Is Suicide”.
During that last semester of college, Caldwell began recording the songs for his debut independent solo record “Dog and Bird”. Getting these songs to tape was truly a labor of love between him and long time friend and co-producer, Brad Hill. “We recorded it in attics, basements, closets, studios…and even up the side of a mountain in North Carolina…” [see track 6…large electric guitar cab blasted individual vocal and dobro tracks up the mountain into a portable recording rig situated at the top]. What emerged was an album that strikes a balance between intelligent lyric writing and original pop-marketability appealing to people looking for something different. When you listen to “Dog and Bird”, among the biggest critiques of the debut release is it’s musical variety. There’s a combination of styles and influences that most don’t quite know how to classify; a difficulty in today’s musically impatient environment where “what’s hot” changes quicker than the newest social networking site. With this collection of songs, however, there’s a timelessness to his voice and writing, a charm and effortlessness which other musicians struggle to achieve.
The record was released in 2007 at Mercy Lounge in Nashville, TN. The release party drew more people at a post-Labor Day event than any other show in Mercy Lounge’s over 20-year history. Songs on “Dog and Bird” gave way to his first domestic and Canadian radio play and allowed him to break into the lucrative college market.
Since the release of his first album “Dog and Bird” in 2006, Caldwell has performed in over 30 countries and been a staple on the college circuit. He has sung for advertisements for Krystal fast food, White Castle fast food, GMC, Chevy, and Crystal Cruises. Most recently, his original music has been featured in national ad campaigns for Nike, Visa, Honda, Tylenol, in the primetime network pilot “Dear God, It’s Me Traci”, and the Australian film “Out of Space”.
In 2008, upon returning to the US after a 26 country world tour, Caldwell escaped to a small house in the mountains of New Mexico, where he wrote the songs that would make up his 2009 release “Hill Studio Sessions”. Directly contrasting “Dog and Bird” (which took over 12 months to finish), the “Hill Studio Sessions” EP was recorded very quickly in Nashville, and took on a more raw and “live” throw-back sound. Paying tribute to jazz, reggae, even world music at times, Caldwell’s beautifully gritty vocals and catchy pop hooks are ready for some much deserved hype in this latest independent release. “Hill Studio Sessions” was recorded over three days at Hill Studios on Music Row alongside engineer/producer Brad Hill and his dynamic backing band; a trio of players who have each become a recognized staple in the Nashville independent music scene.
If you have an ear for something different – something smart, music that is equal parts deep and entertaining – stay tuned to what Justin Caldwell is coming out with in his latest project, set to release in early 2012…