The Next Megastar: Straalen McCallum – that’s how we titled the article introducing Straalen and his music which was published at theskykid.com only a few months ago. Today he is already signed by Sony Australia, his first album is on its way and, as much as we would like to say that naming him the next megastar was some kind of prophesy, the truth is his success came as a result of his devotion and unbelievable talent behind the microphone.
Back in May, we promised that we would be watching Straalen’s progress closely and would do our best to keep you updated. Then the idea of doing an interview with Straalen was born. We had many questions ourselves, but we also used this opportunity to ask some of the people who commented on the articles about the young singer via emails and twitter (which has proven to be an excellent way to get people involved and rewards the community for being such wonderful supporters of the young talents and theskykid.com). Straalen himself was kind enough to devote some time and answer all the questions for theskykid.com audience and his fans across the globe. Below, you can find the results of our mutual efforts – an exclusive interview with Straalen McCallum:
theskykid.com: Straalen, how are you today? Would you introduce yourself, how old you are and where you’re from?
Straalen : Hi Skykid!! Thanks so much for inviting me!! I’m Straalen. I’m 12 years old, and I live on the beach on the sunny Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.
theskykid.com: At what age were you when you began to sing?
Straalen : I suppose I was about three years old when everyone became aware of me being able to sing. I had really long blonde corkscrew ringlets for hair and I actually looked like a girl, but I had this raunchy little voice and would walk around the house singing classic songs from the 60’s like from Blood Sweat and Tears and the Beatles! And I haven’t stopped!
theskykid.com: What single event in your life, to date, do you feel was the most exciting and why?
Straalen : I think the most exciting event was being chosen to sing before 53,000 people (with millions more watching me on television worldwide) singing our National Anthem for the biggest sporting event Australia had in 2010 – the rugby league State of Origin. It’s equivalent to the Superbowl in the U.S. and the FA Cup final in the UK! I was the youngest singer ever chosen to sing at it and it was such a privilege!! I am always so proud to sing our National Anthem, but to do it in front of such a huge crowd and have them singing along with me was magical!! I still can’t believe it!! I am so very privileged!
theskykid.com: What does it feel like when you are on stage singing?
Straalen : I feel at home on the stage. I believe in lot’s of preparation before I perform, so when I get up there, well, I know my stuff so well I can just relax, sing and enjoy the audience and the experience!! It’s really where I can totally be myself.
theskykid.com: Do you play any musical instruments?
Straalen : Yes, I play a little bit of piano, drums and guitar.
theskykid.com: Who would you say has been your greatest influence in music?
Straalen : My Dad. He knows all the great songs and how I should sing them.
theskykid.com: Has there been anyone you haven’t performed with yet you would like to perform with?
Straalen : Oh yes!! I love John Farnham and Michael Buble, both incredible on stage. And there’s also a great singer in the U.S. named Savaanah Outen. She is amazing! Oh, and Sarah McLaughlin. She is unbelievable!! Oh and Gurrumul Yunupingu – he’s fantastic! And there are many other people too!
theskykid.com: What inspires you to sing?
Straalen : I’ve always absolutely LOVED singing! I love finding a beautiful, well meaning song and then doing it my way. But I remember a few years ago a lady at church came over to me and said that God had given me this wonderful gift of singing and that I should use it in the right way. So now, whenever I sing, I think of it as connecting with God. That is very inspirational!
theskykid.com: You are working on your first album. Can you tell us more about it and when you expect it to be released?
Straalen : Oh yes! It is a beautiful album. Definitely NOT pop! It’s called A Little Faith. I suppose you could call it an inspirational album. It has some beautiful hymns on it – Panis Angelicus, How Great Thou Art, and also some other beautiful songs such as In the Arms of an Angel, Charlie Chaplin’s Smile, Over the Rainbow and Tears in Heaven.
theskykid.com: Which song on your new CD means the most to you and why?
Straalen : I have 13 songs on my new album and I hand-picked them all because they all mean so much to me. I connected with every one of them. And I had to learn Latin for one song and an aboriginal dialect for a wonderful song called Wiyathul, and those two songs sound fantastic — even though many people won’t probably know what I’m singing about. The song Smile has a beautiful string orchestra playing and it’s like floating on clouds, so it’s very special. We put a Welsh choir backing How Great Thou Art which sounds fantastic, and Over the Rainbow is a cross between Eva Cassidy’s and Judy Garland’s version. It’s beautiful! So I can’t really give you a favourite. You listen and let me know yours!
theskykid.com: We’ve kept an eye on your performances, comments, and tweets and I must say were pleasantly surprised that such a talented singer like you can also be such an extremely well-mannered, polite and down to earth young man. Recently, you became the youngest singer ever to be signed by Sony in Australia. Do you think that fame will change you?
Straalen : Thank you so much!! I have wonderful parents who made sure respect, courtesy and manners were among the first things we learnt! It was unbelievable becoming the youngest singer ever signed by Sony in Australia but, at the end of the day, I’m still me and there is never any excuse to treat anyone any less than you would like to be treated yourself. So I will be working very hard to stay true to myself throughout this incredible journey. And besides… I have an older brother and a younger brother who will ALWAYS make sure my head doesn’t swell and my feet stay on the ground! They are very grounding!
theskykid.com: With your musical career on the rise, you will be dealing with the media quite frequently. Do you get nervous when you appear on TV or radio shows or are you cool with it?
Straalen : You know, I’m actually pretty cool with it. It’s just people talking with me wanting to know stuff for the people watching or listening, so I just treat it like a conversation I’m having with someone anywhere! Although sometimes I don’t know what camera to look in!
theskykid.com: What other hobbies or interests do you have outside of music and singing?
Straalen : I’m a very keen surfer, and I play rugby – I scored 54 tries last year – cricket and basketball. Dad reckons that if I wasn’t a singer I probably would be a representative sportsman.
theskykid.com: You always look amazing in your live performances. Do you have to go to stylist or rely on help from your family for that?
Straalen : Thank you!! My mum does all my styling. She’s amazing!
theskykid.com: Have you had any formal vocal training?
Straalen : Oh yes! I truly wouldn’t be talking with you now if it wasn’t for my singing coach Venetta Fields! She is the reason I have made it. Venetta is the best singing coach in Australia! And she has herself sung with The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Boz Scaggs, Aretha Franklin, Barbara Streisand, Michael Jackson… everyone!! She was an Ikette with Ike and Tina Turner for five years! But she almost didn’t teach me. A few years ago, my dad called her to see if she could teach me to sing, and Venetta said that I would have to come in and audition. But when she asked how old I was and Dad said that I was 9, she just laughed and said she doesn’t take little boys, and hung up on him! Dad called her back and asked her if she knew where he could take a 9- year-old boy who sounded like David Clayton Thomas (out of the band Blood Sweat & Tears)!! HaHa! She just laughed again and said “Ok bring him in and I’ll have a listen”. Well, I auditioned and she said she’ll take me!! I’m the youngest she has ever taken! And we joke about how the first six months of lessons was Venetta un-teaching me everything Dad had taught me!! But I wouldn’t be where I am today without her! I just love her!
theskykid.com: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Straalen : This is what I’ve always wanted to do – sing great songs! And it’s something that I can now devote my life to. In 10 years, I hope to be singing AND making a difference!
theskykid.com: What would you say is your greatest goal or fondest dream?
Straalen : My goal is to sing at the Royal Albert Hall, and my dream is to be able to help as many children as I can find and fulfil their dreams!
theskykid.com: While other youngsters are singing hip-hop and pop, you seem to excel when singing some of the older styles of music. What is your favorite style of music and whom do you listen to on your Mp3 player?
Straalen : I really love the timeless classics, songs that were around in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s that have beautiful melodies and lyrics. A lot of songs today are either covers of old songs, or have the same riffs. But that’s not to say there aren’t good songs being made now, it’s just that I’m not into the ‘here-today-gone-tomorrow’ pop stuff. I suppose I’m old fashioned! But I do have as much modern pop stuff on my ipod as I do old stuff. I even have some rap, not that I would sing any of that stuff. I have always been told to respect all music. I don’t have to like it, but I must respect it.
theskykid.com: For people who want to know more about you, what’s the best way to stay up to date?
theskykid.com: Will there be an American tour within the near future?
Straalen : Oh gosh, I really hope so!! We’re talking now about doing a tour in 2011. It will all depend on whether the Australian tour gets extended.
theskykid.com: Have you ever heard of the Dutch singer Heintje Simons?
Straalen : Yes I have! He’s very talented!
theskykid.com: What direction would you like to see your music go in?
Straalen : I would like my music to always be real, and a reflection of me. I find it very hard to sing a song I don’t connect with. I reckon that if I really connect with a song, then there’s a good chance people listening to me singing it will connect with it also.
theskykid.com: Is there anything I haven’t asked that you’d like to add?
Straalen : Yes, I would like to say how thankful I am that you take the time to do all the things you do! You are so supportive of many, many young talents and I am truly grateful! Please, if there is ever anything I can do for you, you only need ask!! I hope to do you proud!! Thank you so much! I hope you always smile!
All of us at theskykid.com are so proud of Straalen McCallum and his music and are also proud that theskykid.com is one of the media that is able to report on his performance and progress and offer him our unconditional support. We have no doubt that his debut album is going to be among the most cherished possessions of anyone who appreciates soulful performances and high quality music. We urge you to get a copy of Straalen’s album A Little Faith as soon as it becomes available!
Read more about him at theskykid.com reading the two previous articles :
Straalen McCallum published on June 15, 2009 by Tony
The Next Megastar: Straalen McCallum published on on May 24, 2010