Videos by American Songwriter
Jessa Callen is a pop singer and harpist for the sibling duo The Callen Sisters. They’ve been together as this group since 2006 and are releasing their new EP, The Light Bringer, which focuses on current-day controversial issues while simultaneously providing a ray of hope for listeners. Check out the sisters here or listen to their newest single “Silhouette” from the EP here.
Jessa provides some insight about her process for incorporating pressing and timely issues into The Callen Sisters music and the unique power she believes songwriting holds.
Dabbling with the Power of Music
As musicians and songwriters, we attempt to document the world through our eyes and hearts, using our thoughts and feelings about situations and the world at large as inspiration. We dabble in the power of music to express our ideas to the world. As the record-keepers and the storytellers, the peacekeepers and the mystics, we songwriters can move and shape a society; our songs are its heartbeat. What a songwriter chooses to write about directly affects those who listen. What will a writer choose to focus on and why? Is he or she aware of the power that writing a song holds? I feel very strongly that I have a responsibility to put out positive energy in all that I do. The world is filled with negativity and I don’t feel that it’s right for me to add to it. I choose instead to add my voice to the light. I like to sing about things that “are real” and what may be actually happening behind the curtain and hope to enact positive changes to make the world a better place. For our latest release, The Light Bringer Project, my sister and I (known jointly as The Callen Sisters), aim to shine a light on dark places and uncover the truth to accomplish this. We wanted to create songs about social change, coming into one’s own power, and knowing who we really are. We have been living in illusion for so long, we’ve almost forgotten what the truth looks like.
Each song in the project deals with some type of social or political issue or truth. Our song “Light Bringer” is the title track of the project and discusses how we can free ourselves from the constraints of society, particularly those that impede upon basic rights. “Silhouette” is about someone hiding from her/his true self. “Holy Water” discusses the 2008 financial crash and how we have allowed money to control our lives. “Never Surrender” insists on staying in your own power in the face of adversity or fear.
How we composed these songs is the mysterious, magical part. Speaking for myself (my sister may have a slightly different process), I like to say that I “co-write” with creation. Sometimes it will be a sentence in a novel or a quote on a radio station or a feeling that I get. Sometimes a simple melody comes into my head. I connect to that fragment of thought or melody and allow it to manifest into a full-fledged topic, then shape it into poetry and song while holding the intention that others may benefit from hearing it. For this particular project, my sister and I each intended to bring in some form of light or truth.We decided to release each song in the project one at a time rather than an entire album. Two songs have already been released and four more are on their way. We hope that volume two will follow!
Our first two records were very personal accounts of the difficulty and strife that we journeyed through in our early years. The songs we wrote during that time were cathartic for us. This third release is about bringing our songs out of the personal realm and into society- where we attempt to heal it through music. Do we expect to change the world overnight? No! But if we can do our little part in the whole and it helps one single person, we feel like we’ve done our job.
It is truly a joy to express oneself through song and we feel blessed to be able to share our thoughts and feelings through the power of music. We hope that our own dabblings with this power will assist in bringing light to our beautiful planet and her inhabitants.