When Callaghan Belle moved from Farmington Hills, Michigan, to Los Angeles, she was a ball of feelings—nervous, excited, anxious.
But she knew this was her chance to make it as a musician.
“I am an only child and I was very into music from the time I was little,” Belle said. “It became a pretty isolating thing. I was writing and recording and doing everything on my own.
“So, coming to LA, I moved into a more collaborative community.”
Upon her move, the first person she collaborated with was singer-songwriter JoJo for a Netflix film.
“They said JoJo and I just freaked out because she was the reason I started singing,” Belle said. “I used to sing along to all her songs growing up. When I worked with her, I learned her resilience was incredible, because this was in 2018, so she hadn’t released anything in a long time.”
The singer-songwriter and producer recently released the single “Run into You,” which marks the beginning of a new chapter in her evolving sound.
“I’m so excited to share ‘Run into You’ with the world,” Belle said. “Essentially, the theme of this song is that you can’t fool karma. You can make and break promises, you can act like a sweetheart in public and a monster behind closed doors, but the truth will always find a way out. There’s playful energy surrounding what was obviously a heavy heartbreak, because sometimes people break you in such an unnecessarily crude and dramatic way that you have to laugh. There’s value in turning the tables a bit and making your own happy ending.”
Her father, Gerard Smerek, served as her engineer. (He’s so close to Anita Baker that she was named Belle’s godmother.)
“I was on the ‘Rhythm of Love’ tour with her,” she said. “It was a cool way to get a firsthand glimpse of really incredible singing every single night.
“My parents were funny because they didn’t want me to do music at all. They always say they would have rather me been a waitress or anything except in music. The business isn’t always the friendliest.”
But those words didn’t stop Belle. When the tooth fairy came for a visit, she brought notebooks instead of dollars. She’s been writing music since then—and continues to do so. She has more new music coming out later this year, inspired by the lockdown.
“I actually have two different EPs coming out this year,” she said. “One is more pop, like easy fun stuff. Then I have another one that’s just straight-up acoustic—me and a piano. There are two different vibes, I guess.”
Though the moment for “Run into You” feels like a fresh start, it still comes as the product of a lifetime’s worth of work for the young artist, who signed her first record deal in high school. At age 15, she did her first co-write with Colbie Caillat for the Grammy-nominated singer’s Christmas album. The Newton Brothers have frequently called on Belle’s songwriting in their film scoring work, where she co-wrote songs for Netflix-exclusive films, including 2017’s “The Bye Bye Man” and 2018’s “Extinction,” the latter of which was performed by JoJo, one of her musical inspirations.
Her previous release, the 2019 EP “Sovereign,” was produced and recorded by herself on a more anthemic, acoustically driven sound. Callaghan’s new work is a polished, radio-ready sound, which is nonetheless brimming with her own spirited, funny personality.
“I really want to tour someday to support this music. I just want to announce a show and have people show up. Is that a really low bar?”