In Commercial Music, Guest Artist, School of Music

Caillat opened up about her history as a singer-songwriter, including her struggle with stage fright

Between performances as a BYU Spectacular headliner last month, Colbie Caillat met with BYU School of Music students for a Q&A session.

The singer-songwriter took the Madsen Recital Hall stage with moderator Ron Saltmarsh, the professor who directs the BYU commercial music program, to answer student questions and share advice and experience from her career.

Colbie Caillat and moderator Ron Saltmarsh (Photo by Alyssa Lyman)

Commercial music student Mikkia Osman, a singer herself, was excited about the chance to hear from Caillat. “She’s a big name, so I thought it was cool that she would notice our school or even give us attention,” Osman said. “My instrument is voice, so when I heard that she would be speaking to us, I knew it was a huge opportunity. She is where I want to be.”

“As someone who’s studying music and hopes to someday have a career similar to Colbie Caillat’s, it was very cool to have her come to BYU and take time to sit down with a few students to answer our questions,” added Cayson Renshaw, a commercial music student focusing on songwriting and media composition. “She obviously didn’t have to, but it was clear that she wants to help out as many people as she can.”  

Caillat opened the Q&A by sharing the origins of her career. She started out with no more training or opportunities than her student audience, writing her first song at age 19 and finding unexpected success when her friend uploaded the demo to Myspace.

“She talked a lot about how her career just kind of happened to her,” said Osman. “She wasn’t actively going out and trying to get famous. It was encouraging to me that she didn’t have to be anything other than what she was. She was good enough.”

This idea of self-acceptance has remained a consistent theme in Caillat’s life and music. “She seems to have figured out how to be herself and do things her own way, which I think can be hard in today’s music industry,” said Renshaw. “She never planned on being a musician like this. From what I understood, it seems that she has continued to do music because she realized that it has a positive effect on many people.”

Colbie Caillat takes student questions (Photo by Alyssa Lyman)

“She’s gorgeous and talented and her songs are amazing, but she doesn’t have an ego,” said Osman. “She doesn’t act like she’s the best. She’s herself. She encouraged us to be natural, to just sing what works for our voices and write what comes from our hearts.”

Despite Caillat’s comfort in her own skin, performing has not always been an easy or enjoyable part of her career. She has worked for many years to manage her stage fright, an obstacle that many student musicians can relate to.

“When she first started out, she said she’d be really nervous for interviews and shows, which is something that I definitely struggle with,” said Osman. “I love performing, but it’s hard to be myself on stage, because I’m afraid of what people will think. She talked about putting out an authentic vibe and having people accept her for that.”

“She made me feel that I’m good enough just the way I am,” Osman continued. “She struggles with all the same things that I do. I can do this too.”

The BRAVO! Series offers masterclasses as part of the professional performing arts series.

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