Meet East Bay Country Star Cam
Lafayette native Cam stands out among the new wave of California-hailing country music stars.
by Ninelle Efremova
Meeting fans backstage at the City National Civic of San Jose, Cam is effervescent. With a five-inch halo of blond ringlets and in her signature sunny-yellow wardrobe, she pulls in a couple for a hug and poses for a photo with a group of adoring teens, with a wide and genuine smile.
She’s about to perform at country radio station KRTY’s 25th Anniversary Summer Kick Off Concert, riding the momentum of a stellar two years in which the Lafayette-raised singer-songwriter had a 2015 hit single and earned both 2016 Grammy and CMA nominations.
“[It’s] crazy to work your way up in this industry. You travel five to six days a week, to three [radio] stations a day,” says Cam. “I got to sing on Vince Gill’s album, I got to sing with Eric Church at Red Rocks, I got to sing with Alicia Keys on [the Academy of Country Music Honors], and each one of those are bucket-list things for me. Sometimes I think, That really happened, I just did that.”
Cam, born Camaron Marvel Ochs, is one of a new generation of country singers who weren’t born and bred in traditional country locales. Cam is an alumna of both Moraga’s Campolindo High School music program and the Contra Costa Children’s Chorus. Her childhood was split between her home in Lafayette and her grandparents’ horse ranch in Southern California, with classic country as the backdrop.
“Being from the Bay Area, I didn’t have country idols that were right here,” she says. “So when I finally started coming into music, I was like, ‘I have to do it my own way.’”
Working first as a songwriter (notable credits include Miley Cyrus), Cam self-released her first song, “Down This Road,” in 2013, and was discovered by a Nashville radio programmer. Untamed, released on RCA in 2015, spotlights Cam’s vocals and taps into raw emotions. In her hit single “Burning House,” which reached No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, a woman chooses to stay in a burning house over and over again in her dreams, hoping to absolve herself of her missteps in love.
In a recent TEDx Talk called “Life Can Be Tough. Music Can Help,” Cam—who studied psychology at UC Davis—explored the power of music to move us all. Cam says, “That’s what I love about country and pop music: When you write something that is true, everyone will listen to it.”
Cam is on tour throughout the United States and currently opening for George Strait in Las Vegas. Get more info at camcountry.com.