Cam. The simple, three-letter name is bold. And that rings true to the art, and the heart, of one of country’s shining new acts.
That boldness is evident in nearly every step she takes. Cam makes it a habit to wear eye-catching yellow every time she goes out in public. The strings and acoustic guitar in her breakout #1 Platinum-certified smash, the Grammy and ACM Awards nominated Burning House, are stirringly fragile, a brave counterpoint to the party atmosphere of modern country. And she sings with a dynamic clarity that’s both distinctive and friendly. Cam backs up that boldness with a firm delivery, embedding her material with a ringing conviction throughout the 11 songs on her Arista Nashville/RCA Records full-length debut, Untamed. Released December 11, 2015, her new album burst onto Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart at #2 and earned 2015’s best first-week album sales by a debut country artist. Whether she’s singing about fresh love, broken hearts or difficult personal crossroads, she’s clearly living the experience for the three or four minutes she’s in it. Actually, she’s re-living the experience, because the emotions in every one of her songs come unapologetically from her singular interaction with the world.
“There’s a lot of work involved in being an artist, and I’m so happy to do it,” she says. “But if I’m going to invest my time in the work part of it, the music just has to be me.” Adventure and uniqueness were practically built in to Cam from the outset. Camaron Marvel Ochs was born in the waterfront Southern California town of Huntington Beach, she spent big chunks of her youth at her grandparents’ horse ranch in Oceanside, where the tractor was red and the barn was blue. Her grandfather was both a cowboy and an entrepreneur – he started his own business, building wooden office desks – and her parents were similarly non-conformist. Her father grew up in a military family and had the guts to move out on his own at age 17, a time when most kids are looking to Dad for a few extra bucks to put gas in the car and see a movie. Her mother had an executive position in construction management at a time when those jobs were reserved almost exclusively for men. In turn, their independent, self-reliant streak was instilled in Cam, particularly after the family relocated to northern California.
While living in Los Angeles, Cam met a kindred spirit in up-and-coming songwriter/producer Tyler Johnson (Taylor Swift, P!nk). A songwriting partnership was begun, with promising early results – they co-wrote a song on Miley Cyrus’ album Bangerz, and Cam also landed a song on a project by indie country act Maggie Rose.
Cam and Johnson meticulously wrote and rewrote the material for weeks and months at a time under the watchful eye of GRAMMY®-winning producer and songwriter Jeff Bhasker (Fun., Mark Ronson), who helped bring her to the industry’s attention in New York, even while she made organic inroads in Music City.
In a bit of a fluke, Cam’s music was discovered online by Nashville radio programmer Michael Bryan, who started playing one of her songs, Down This Road, on WSIX even though she was unsigned. While the attention was a boon, wheels were already in motion behind the scenes with label meetings in Nashville when Bhasker got Cam a meeting in New York with RCA Records Chairman & CEO Peter Edge and President & COO Tom Corson. Blown away by her incredible voice and irresistible personality and charm, Edge immediately called Sony Music’s CEO, Doug Morris, who likewise fell for her undeniable talent when she auditioned for him. In a rare situation, she’s now signed to both the country (Arista Nashville) and pop (RCA Records) labels – she sees herself as a country act, but if her music breaks out of the genre or finds an audience overseas, the pop division is waiting in the wings.