Cameron Calloway still has a Ringback Tone, a short-lived cellphone fad of the T9 era. (If you dial his number, you’ll hear Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall.”) That’s about as modern as the local singer-songwriter gets.
Everything else about the 28-year-old soul artist is retro-cool, from his oversize John Lennon frames and applejack cap to the honey-dripped vocals that have become a staple of the Las Vegas music scene. “I really am inspired musically, but also in a fashion sense, by the ’60s and ’70s,” Calloway says.
Having built a regional buzz and rocked shows across the country, 2017 is shaping up to be Calloway’s year. He makes his official introduction with the release of his debut EP, My Neighborhood, and celebratory concert on May 19 at Vinyl inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
The record is a collection of five songs that showcases his versatility. “Each song is different, resembling a community. Each house is different, but at the end of the day, it’s still one neighborhood,” he explains.
Calloway’s musical style is a diverse one, rooted in soul with flourishes of rock, funk and ’60s pop. “April 23rd” is beautifully buoyant. “Lucy” rages with crunching guitars. “Supernatural”—a nod to Calloway’s love for horror and Halloween—haunts with funky organs and a passage from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.”
Each of the songs on the EP are ones that have impressed audiences at Calloway’s live shows, though wowing crowds is easy to do with a voice like his. His grand falsetto is chilling and electrifying at once.
To think, that natural talent was hidden for 24 years.
At 6’1” and 290 pounds, the gentle giant is built like a linebacker. And he almost went that route. “I thought I was going to be an NFL player,” Calloway says. “That was the dream for a long time, until I played football in high school and didn’t really like it much.”
It wasn’t until 2014 that Calloway picked up a guitar on a whim and started making the rounds at open mics. He had no formal training or lessons, just a love for Al Green, Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway.
Three years later, Calloway has quit his day job, is getting attention from national music blogs and is preparing for his biggest gig to date: September’s Life Is Beautiful Music & Art Festival.
“When I quit my job, I didn’t know what the hell was going to happen or where I was going to go. I was like, ‘Let me try this music thing out for a little bit and see if it works. If it doesn’t, I’ll go back and get a job,’” he says. “But Life Is Beautiful came about, and it’s like a dream.”