Caillat’s rising star to shine at Palms venue

Colbie Caillat never expected this. Well, at least not this fast.

But tonight, the 21-year-old breath of fresh musical air from California puts on her second performance as part of her first major tour this summer across the country.

With her smooth voice and heartwarming music, Caillat has drawn comparisons to Grammy winner Norah Jones. She takes center stage at 8 p.m. at The Pearl inside the Palms as the opening act for the Goo Goo Dolls.

It’s been a quick rise to stardom for the blossoming Universal Republic Records artist, whose debut album, “Coco,” hits stores July 17 nationwide.

“All of this happening hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Caillat said during a telephone interview amid the growing hype surrounding the tour, which kicked off Friday at the Dodge Theatre in Phoenix.

But you can’t blame Caillat for feeling that way. In less than a year, she’s gone from a relative unknown to one of music’s most popular singers via an outlet that so many artists have used to jump-start their career: She found the world of MySpace, the cult-like social networking site approaching almost 200 million members worldwide.

“A lot of musician friends have pages up on MySpace,” Caillat said, “and it seemed like a good way to have people hear your music.”

So Caillat, who’s more skilled in songwriting than working with a computer, had a friend create her page on MySpace (www.myspace.com/colbiecaillat).

It didn’t take long for MySpace to exceed her expectations. She put up some songs she had just finished with a producer and started getting profile views and people stopping by to hear her songs.

She struck gold in August when she wrote the song “Bubbly,” the first release off her album.

In September, she recorded “Bubbly,” and she performed it live on “The Carson Daly Show” on NBC earlier this year in her first nationally televised show, then put it on her MySpace page. A month later, Caillat was featured in Rolling Stone magazine, cited as one of the top unsigned artists on MySpace.

That exposure increased her MySpace popularity; in about four months she racked up more than 100,000 “friends” with more than 10 million song plays.

Caillat’s “sunny, optimistic, feel-good music,” as she describes the 13 songs she either wrote or co-wrote for her debut album, developed from listening to various artists, including Bob Marley, Lauryn Hill and John Mayer. She wanted to tie in those influences who gave her inspiration to create an album that had something for everyone.

But perhaps the biggest influence in her blossoming career came from right at home. Her father, Ken Caillat, co-produced Fleetwood Mac’s legendary hits “Tusk” and “Rumours” and also ran a successful record label.

“It helped because he has so many friends in business, and I’ve always been around them,” Caillat said.

Many of Caillat’s songs deal with the concept and feelings of love, such as “Realize,” “Feelings Show,” “The Little Things” and “Tailor Made,” a song tribute to her sister for finding the love of her life.

“Writing songs just comes real easy,” Caillat said. “I just let stuff build up inside me. That’s my way of doing it.”

And Caillat’s way of “doing it” offstage is another thing she’s proud of. She understands that being a role model for younger girls comes with the territory of her success.

“The majority of the fans at my shows are college and high school girls, so I’m going to have to take that role,” Caillat said. “And there’s no way I’m changing. It just won’t work. People don’t like that. I’m just trying to be myself. I’ve never gotten into the whole spotlight of partying. I just like to play music and be with friends and family.”

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