GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inspirations: Colbie Caillat

GRAMMY winner reveals five GRAMMY Hall Of Fame recordings that have shaped the sound of her own music
  • Photo: Allen Berezovsky/WireImage.com
    Colbie Caillat
January 23, 2014 -- 4:14 pm PST
By Lisa Zhito / GRAMMY.com

(To commemorate the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame's 40th Anniversary in 2013, GRAMMY.com has launched GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inspirations. The ongoing series will feature conversations with various individuals who will identify GRAMMY Hall Of Fame recordings that have influenced them and helped shape their careers.)

A quintessential California girl, pop singer/songwriter Colbie Caillat's music is as sunny and laid-back as her Malibu roots. Hits such as her GRAMMY-winning collaborations with Jason Mraz ("Lucky") and Taylor Swift ("Breathe") evoke the '70s-era country-pop of Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles, and with good reason: Caillat is the daughter of GRAMMY-winning producer Ken Caillat (Fleetwood Mac's Rumours). Southern California rock was the soundtrack of her childhood.

Caillat draws from this musical well when she writes. A love of harmonies and a knack for economical but relatable lyrics are two elements of Caillat's songwriting one can trace to the classic rock and folk-pop of her youth. But she also professes a deep love for reggae and the music of Bob Marley.

"If I could only listen to one artist for the rest of my life it would be Bob Marley," she says. "All of his music is just so positive and so happy. It's something I love listening to, it takes my worries away and my stress away. He sends a message out to the world that promotes peace; that's what I love about him."

Here's a look at five GRAMMY Hall Of Fame recordings that have inspired Caillat and her upcoming new album:

Blue
Joni Mitchell
Reprise (1971)
Album
Inducted 1999

"My mom and sister loved all of the Joni Mitchell albums. When I hear Blue it reminds me of driving to high school in the morning. They'd always have that record on. My sister and I still listen to it to this day. It just brings back those memories. Joni's voice and the lyrics to the songs — as a songwriter I've learned so much from hearing her and the songs that she creates."

Sweet Baby James
James Taylor
Warner Bros. (1970)
Album
Inducted 2002

"Joni Mitchell and James Taylor both write such beautiful melodies, and their lyrics are so in-depth and honest and relatable to everyone. When you see how clever they are in their writing, it makes me want to try to write like them.

"My sister and I were raised on classic rock. We grew up in Southern California and just that kind of music —  the Joni Mitchell-Fleetwood Mac-James Taylor-Crosby Stills & Nash — it reminds me of Southern California, beach days and hanging out with family. And I love all of those songs."

Graceland
Paul Simon
Warner Bros. (1986)
Album
Inducted 2012

"I love this record! I put it on to this day for workouts. I'm recording my record at a beach house in Malibu right now, and every morning I take these jogs on the beach and work out in the sand and it makes me want to have dance parties while I'm working out. It's really fun music and it's actually inspiring my record right now. I want my record to have that kind of feel. Paul Simon went to Africa for that record and it has all of these different vocals and instruments on it that take you there. And so that inspired me for this record to have a sound like he does on Graceland."

Rumours
Fleetwood Mac
Warner Bros. (1977)
Album
Inducted 2003

"My dad worked on [Rumours], so I grew up listening to that record. Every song on it reminds me of my childhood and the house I was born in on that hill in Malibu. We would listen to it every day. Later they had to remix songs, and I remember my dad in the house on his console, remixing everything.

"I feel like I'm connected to that record in a big way. Fleetwood Mac [are] the first band I ever saw live; it was at the Hollywood Bowl. Lindsey [Buckingham's] guitar playing and Stevie [Nicks'] raspy vocals, all of them as songwriters, and hearing my dad telling stories about recording that record up in Sausalito, [Calif.,] and reading my dad's book about it —  it's a big connection."

Tapestry
Carole King
Ode (1971)
Album
Inducted 1998

"Carole King is another one of my mom's favorites. We have all of her records. I love how she is as a songwriter. I actually just got to meet her a couple weeks ago and I got to sing 'Will You Love Me Tomorrow' in front of her at a tribute concert. It was one of the coolest experiences because, along with Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Fleetwood Mac, hearing Carole helped shape what kind of songs I wanted to write. Her vocals are just so honest and when she hits those high notes, it just gives you chills."

(Colbie Caillat won her first GRAMMY in 2009 for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals for "Lucky" with Jason Mraz. She co-wrote the GRAMMY-nominated track "Breathe" with Taylor Swift, which was featured on Swift's Album Of The Year winner Fearless. Caillat garnered a 56th GRAMMY nomination with Gavin DeGraw for Best Song Written For Visual Media for "We Both Know" featured on the soundtrack to the 2013 film Safe Haven.)

(Lisa Zhito is a Nashville-based freelancer covering travel, arts and entertainment.)

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