“It blew my mind that one guitar could make so much sound” said Calum Graham.
He can play the guitar like only few can on the planet. That’s not an overstatement. It goes without saying that success and fame is imminent for this bright eyed, blond haired 21 year old Alberta native, as the newfangled sound that he has made his own is at the forefront of a new generation in music and is certain to gain interest from across the world.
Born in British Columbia, and raised in the small town of High River, AB, Calum Graham started playing the guitar at the age of 13. He attributes growing up in a talented family and always being surrounded by different forms of musical and artistic expression, in further influencing the development of his unique style of music. But Graham’s first foray into his own individual musical expression was not a result of his classically trained guitar work, it was teaching himself how to play finger-style guitar; a decision which he never looked back from.
In 2009 and at only 17 years of age, Graham recorded his first instrumental studio album titled “Sunny Side Up”. Later that year he was the Grand Prize Winner of the Calgary Stampede Talent Search, a success that entered him into the Canadian Youth Talent Competition in P.EI that same year. A surprise to no one, Graham landed another first place victory, whose past winners include Michael Buble’.
Along with a select list of other musician, Graham was invited to be a representative of Alberta Music for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Later that year, Graham would include another victory to his musical resume, only this time for one of his original compositions. In the summer of 2010 not only did Graham impressed the judges of the 2010 Canadian Guitar Festival, he won their first place title – a feat that no other teenager has ever accomplished in the Festival’s history.
As his confidence grew and his style developed, Graham soon saw a loyal following begin to grow and he became a popular local hit in the Albertan music scene. His natural talent of incorporating a variety of musical harmonies into his songs only added to his appeal. It wasn’t long before his unique finger style sound with a modern-age twist started to find an appreciative audience.
Soon after realizing that making music was his main goal, Graham began to showcase his talent in various venues across Alberta playing at numerous gigs and making sure that his name and music was being heard by as many people as possible. It wasn’t long before he was quickly noted for the unique style that he brought to the music scene, and his popularity continued to grow.
Calum has been fortunate to meet many of his musical mentors all within the span of a year. He opened for Andy Mckee at Elsefest (Philadelphia, PA) and shared the stage with certified guitar player Tommy Emmanuel, and Pavlo at the World Guitar Festival (Rouyn-Noranda, QC) and is now currently working with Don Ross on Calum’s Third album.
Of his many admirers, now-legendary finger style guitarist Don Ross counts himself a fan of Graham’s music. A beautiful full-circle story as Ross was Graham’s initial inspiration for learning how to fingerpick on the guitar.
The album is being recorded at the world-renowned ‘Metalworks Studios’ in Mississauga, Ontario. This album will showcase what Calum & Don do best – compose uncompromising instrumental music in various styles & arrangements – all on the acoustic guitar. The album is set to be released by April/May 2013 and will be released through the online acoustic guitar label ‘Candyrat Records’. Upon release of the album, Don & Calum will be touring Canada, USA, Europe, & Asia in the Fall/Winter of 2013.
But although his name was continuing to grow in Alberta and across Canada for his guitar work and musicianship, in the summer of 2011, another jury was in and named Graham with yet another first place title, only this time for his poetic acuteness.
Following a nationwide call for written submissions to capture the true essence of the Canadian spirit, Graham emerged as the grand prize winner of Canada’s Walk of Fame’s “A Song For Canada” competition, presented by RE/MAX.
Selected by a panel of esteemed judges, Graham received a grand prize of $25,000, a trip for two to the 2011 Canada’s Walk of Fame Tribute Events, and studio recording time at Metalworks Studios. In addition, several lines from his submission were included in the song “I’m Here, (A Song For Canada)” performed by Chantal Kreviazuk where he also had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with Stephan Moccio, and Raine Maida in the recording studio to produce the original score of the song, which was co-written, composed and arranged by Moccio (“I Believe”, 2010 Vancouver Olympics theme song).
“Calum’s entry resonated strongly among the judges. His poem celebrates the cultural mosaic that is Canada. He has captured the diversity of this country – something that we as a nation are renowned for and proud of”, said Moccio.
Calum was then invited to perform the song onstage with Kreviazuk, Moccio, and Maida at the Elgin Theatre (Toronto) for the nationally broadcasted awards show.
Since his move to Toronto, Calum has been already making a buzz on the music scene. Aside from performing at venues such as the Horseshoe Tavern, Tota Lounge, and The Rivoli, Calum also performed at the Mod Club Theatre for the 8th annual Andy Kim Christmas concert where Calum perfomed between Colin James and K-OS – with other headliners Sloan, Serenda Ryder, and Ron Sexsmith headlining the event.
If you’ve heard Graham play the guitar, it’s likely you’ve only heard him play the guitar.
That is not to say that he finds himself restricted to this genre as he is now preparing to release his second studio album, ‘Indivisibility’, which underlies the changes that Graham has gone through; all of which have allowed him to develop as a person, and in turn has profoundly aided his musical development. The album features Graham on both lead vocals and guitar.
Other changes that have affected and influenced his song-writing over recent years have been his understanding of human exchange, an area that he pays a lot of attention to and incorporates to a certain degree in his music, which adds an extra dimension to his compositions.
The songs provide a combination of his exemplary guitar work and mellow vocals, with a rhythmic undercurrent that bears testament to his impassioned playing, and punctuated throughout with elements of jazz, pop and acoustic blues.
At only 21 years old, it’s unquestionable that Calum Graham has enough talent to revolutionize how audiences appreciate music and has enough energy to power a small fleet of motor vehicles. It’s a fuel that burns full-throttle, ignited by the heat of his soulful voice and the power and passion of his musical performance.