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Unconventional start leads to mainstream stardom for singer

clock December 4, 2008
Unconventional start leads to mainstream stardom for singer

Asked about her last appearance in the Mobile area, Colbie Caillat laughed. Asked what’s changed since then, she laughed again.

“That was the best,” she said of that summer 2007 stop at the BlueGill Restaurant on the Causeway. “My band and I had a lot of fun. We showed up and it was so hot, we wanted to take our clothes off, we couldn’t even stand it. We were at soundcheck and there was an alligator, like, on the side of the restaurant and we were tripping out because it was the first time we’d ever seen an alligator.”

“It was one of our favorite shows,” said Caillat, who headlines at the Mobile Saenger Theatre on Dec. 11. “We honestly loved Mobile.”

As for what’s changed since then, well, try everything. In June 2007, Caillat was still a month away from releasing her debut major-label album. She owed her rapidly growing fame almost entirely to exposure on the social networking site MySpace.com, where her song “Bubbly” had caught on like wildfire.

She was at the vanguard of a wave of artists who would be in the right place (MySpace) at the right time to take the music industry by surprise. For her and a few others, an unconventional beginning would lead to mainstream music industry stardom.

It wasn’t all luck, of course: Caillat didn’t just use the Internet to put her music out there, she diligently used it to develop a rapport with her fan base. She also won wide praise for her songwriting and singing.

And so when that album, “Coco,” was released, it hit No. 5 on Billboard’s album chart and spawned a couple of successful follow-up singles to “Bubbly,” “Realize” and “The Little Things.” And the next time Caillat came back to the area, in September 2007, it was as an opening act for the Goo Goo Dolls in the Pensacola Civic Center.
Having done clubs and arenas, Caillat said she gravitates to theaters.

“In honestly depends on the mood I’m in that day,” she said. “For the most part I like theaters because they’re old-fashioned and the sound is amazing.”

Musically, at least, not much has changed with fame, Caillat said. A choreographer did give the band some help, she said, but “we don’t do dance moves.” The advice ended up having more to do with the layout of the stage, the clothing and other details that hopefully add up to a more energetic visual presence.

“At first, it used to be everybody knew me from MySpace and now at shows most of the people hear me from the radio,” she said. But the core audience, women ages 16 to 25, is the same, she said.

“They’re all so cute, they all sing along to every song, and freak out when my band throws stuff into the audience,” she said. “I like it when everyone sings along.”

For those familiar with the music, she said, the show probably doesn’t hold any huge surprises. She expects to play songs from “Coco,” plus a few covers, plus her Christmas song, “Mistletoe.” And she might work in a couple of new tracks, “Something Special” and “Out of My Mind.”

She knows folks are coming for a good time and maybe a little bit of an escape, and she hopes that’s what they get, she said.

“I’m pretty mellow up on stage,” she said.
The Dec. 11 concert at the Mobile Saenger Theatre,

6 S. Joachim St., begins at 8 p.m. and features opening act Jon McLaughlin.
Tickets are $23 plus service charges. They are available at the Saenger box office, 251-208-5600, and other Ticketmaster outlets.

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