Mattress Warehouse pres. WMZQ Fest is BACK on May 28, 2022 at Jiffy Lube Live!
This year's main stage show stars Tim McGraw, Russell Dickerson, Alexandra Kay and Brandon Davis!
Every song has a story and even at just 18 years old Callista Clark has a lot to say, wielding her creative gifts as both a defense and an instrument of peace as she puts her heart on display. With real to me (big machine records) producing top 20 “It’s ‘Cause I Am,” Callista became country radio’s most successful new artist debut of 2021. She shows no signs of slowing down as her soulful next single “gave it back broken” is set to impact at country radio in May 2022. Blending inspiration from authentic, timeless classics with the sounds of her Georgia roots, Callista “commands her career from its breakthrough beginnings” (American songwriter). She has collaborated with many of country music’s leading songwriters such as Jonathan Singleton, Laura Veltz, Nicolle Galyon and Emily Shackleton, proof she can hold her own among Nashville’s most prominent hitmakers. The iHeartCountry On The Verge artist made her national television debut on Live with Kelly & Ryan where she was touted as “the next big thing in country music.” The momentum has continued Billboard featured Callista as the only country artist on their annual “21 under 21” list, plus she was the youngest member ever named to CMT's Next Women of Country in the 2022 class. Amassing over 130 million views across all socials + YouTube, Scooter Braun (SB projects) and Scott Borchetta (Big Machine Label Group) took notice of her engaging online presence.
“This is me,” says Priscilla Block. “Love it or leave it.”
It’s that kind of attitude towards life, and her fearless music-making, that has made the rising country star one of the genre’s most exciting new artists and one of its most authentic and relatable voices. One part endless party, one part unmitigated honesty, and one part best friend who always gives it to you straight, even when it hurts, Priscilla’s debut album, Welcome to the Block Party, finds an artist who is redefining ‘three chords and the truth’ for an entirely new generation.
Though she came to prominence in 2020, Priscilla’s rise has been years in the making, full of hard work, long hours, and country grit. Originally from Raleigh, NC, she moved to Nashville to pursue music shortly after high school after being encouraged by her mom to pick up the guitar when she found one in the attic of the house she shared with her four siblings. “I auditioned for every single singing show,” she remembers with a laugh. “Then as soon as I could leave town, I packed my bags and moved to Nashville.”
Nothing went right at first: her house was broken in to more than once, and she wasn’t yet old enough to even get into bars to perform or attend songwriting rounds–it was discouraging to say the least. It was while working at a yogurt shop, taking classes in the evening, and reaching what she thought may be her final straw of misfortune in town, when things suddenly changed: Taylor Swift drove by, spotting Pricilla wearing one of her shirts, she pulled over. “Taylor was like, ‘hey, I love your shirt so much, thanks for supporting me,’” Priscilla remembers fondly. “I went to class that night and I decided that I really needed to give music a proper shot. I quit my job and school that night.”
From then on, Priscilla dedicated every waking hour she could to songwriting. She built a close group of collaborators –including her roommate Sarah Jones –and even made a fake booking company to try and secure the band gigs around town. She played outside of Bridgestone arena during big concert nights, and “the hustle was at an all-time high,” she says, nannying, dog walking, and selling goods on Craigslist just to pay the bills. “Anything I could do was how I got by.”
Priscilla and her band were gaining some momentum when they got a brutal blow, along with the rest of the world –the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and she was stuck on lockdown. She had been writing songs nonstop before March 2020, but she’d never quite thought about sharing them explicitly on social media until the pandemic hit. Having moved out of her apartment into a house shared by random Craigslist roommates, she needed something to fill the dreary days.
TikTok, while thoroughly driving pop culture in myriad ways, had not yet made inroads with a country fanbase: until Priscilla came along. When she started posting songs like “Thick Thighs” and “PMS” in the middle of lockdown, to continue to share her music with her fans, she would never have imagined that she would soon top the iTunes Country and All-Genre song charts.
Still, even with the success of “Thick Thighs” and “PMS,” Priscilla was still broke and broken hearted –so in the summer of 2020 she decided to go to a nearby bar where she, to add insult to injury, ran into an ex-boyfriend. A few days later, during a FaceTime writing session with friends, they wrote “Just About Over You,” and “it was the song that completely changed my life,” Priscilla says. Not only was it entirely funded on social media by fans after becoming a viral moment online, it went to the top of the charts. A midtempo stunner about the challenges of thinking you have moved on, it showed that Priscilla could not only crank out pitch-perfect novelty tunes, but she was a country songwriter with serious chops that could get just as introspective as she could be playful and lighthearted.
“It went to number one on all-genre iTunes, and I am sitting there next to Harry Styles and Billie Eilish on the charts,” Priscilla says. “I was just watching as it exploded, and that was when I felt the industry turn around and see me. We started getting calls from everybody.
Soon after, Priscilla signed her record deal and was on her way to making a self-titled EP, followed by her first full-length album: Welcome to the Block Party, named for how she refers to her signature sound of country pop and southern rock that is as rowdy as it can be tender and confessional.
Since “Just About Over You,” her fans have waited patiently for her own full-length debut. That time has come: Welcome to the Block Party is the perfect meeting place for both listeners new and old, with Priscilla showing multiple sides of her artistry but never abandoning what fans fell in love with from the very beginning. Hilarious and brazenly honest (“I’ve been eating carbs since ’95,” she sings) “Thick Thighs” offered a perspective far too unheard of in the land of manicured celebrity, and it was an overnight success. Her blunt –and twangily infectious –lyrics helped Priscilla amass not only a huge social media following but a growing and dedicated fanbase as well.
At the core is Priscilla’s connection with her fans: she remains steadfast in her commitment to speaking directly to them and always letting them peer straight into her world. “I’ll never try and be something that I am not, and I let that be known on social media,” she says. “I show my highs, my lows, I show myself put together and falling apart. I talk about my body and being a curvy girl. I think it’s so important for fans to really know me.”
Welcome to the Block Party is this approach in album form. From the songs like “Heels in Hand” and “Ever Since You Left” that detail the many dynamics of a relationship from the crying to the kiss-offs, to “My Bar” that flips the genre’s gender roles, to the album’s closer “Peaked in High School,” written as a victory lap for anyone who may not have been the homecoming king or queen.
“I write about what I know,” Priscilla says. “If that’s heartbreak or struggle or owning my flaws and being unapologetically me.” Doing things her own way has paid off. Pegged as a 2021 Artist to Watch by Amazon Music, PANDORA, Spotify, CMT, The Boot, MusicRow, HITS, Sounds Like Nashville, Country Now, Music Mayhem and more, Priscilla’s streaming has topped 250million and rising. With Welcome to the Block Party, Priscilla rolls out the welcome mat even further, because she’s truly just getting started.
“You get the funny, you get the sassy, you get the trashy, you get the sad,” Priscilla says of Welcome to the Block Party. “You get everything that makes me, me.”
Odenton, Maryland native Jackson Dean is a singer/songwriter known for his old school, gritty style of Country. Mature beyond his years, Jackson has a daring and carefree spirit, having moved out at 18 years old to live in a cinderblock, concrete floor, one-room shack on the back of his grandfather’s property with no heat and no plumbing. Bringing that same sense of adventure to his songwriting, Jackson writes both independently and alongside outliers like Luke Dick, classic writers like Casey Beathard and everyone in between. Following the release of his debut collection JACKSON DEAN out now via Big Machine Records, Jackson continues to show people how real music can be with atmospheric, musically-forward album GREENBROKE. Featured on the soundtrack for Netflix’s The Ice Road and in an episode of Paramount Network’s Yellowstone, the stomping “Don’t Come Lookin’” is making its mark as his first single at Country radio. Following an early career of local performances in his hometown, Jackson has joined bills with superstar acts like Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert, Brantley Gilbert, Kane Brown, Jake Owen and Brothers Osborne.