Calley Bliss

Calley Bliss

 New York City, New York, USA

Listening to Calley Bliss is like putting jazz, R&B, pop, rock, funk, and folk in a blender and coming out with a velvety smooth decadent drink flavor you can't put your finger on or stop from sipping. She can draw anyone into her web with that beautiful voice. And what a lovely, cozy web it is.


I grew up in the burbs of Minneapolis. From a very young age I took an immediate interest in music—my mother tells a story of me as an infant in my crib rocking myself to sleep in time with the music in the tape player. At the age of three, I was often caught practicing my smile and posing in front of the mirror. This is how mom said she knew she was raising a future performer; “ham” is the endearing term my older sister still prefers to call me.

It started innocent enough. I idolized singers like Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion; the regular suspect pop stars of the day in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I was (and still am to some degree) an impulsive child, and in an attempt to ground me, my parents encouraged that I think of other, more stable professions that I might be interested in. So at the young age of seven, I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian, animals having been another passion of mine. This idea stuck with me until a fateful day in the fourth grade. I had just finished a performance in the school musical. I’d been cast in the children’s production of “Bach to the Future: the Life Story of Johann Sebastian Bach,” as Bach himself. An unassuming audience member (probably someone’s grand-mother or aunt) congratulated me on my performance, and asked if I planned to pursue singing when I grew up. I, with my ten years of wisdom, responded that of course I would love to, but it wasn’t very practical and so I planned to become a veterinarian. To this she replied, “Oh honey, you are too young to give up on your dreams! If what you want is to become a singer, then that’s what you should do!”

I decided she was right. It sealed the deal, and ever after I’ve accepted my fate. The life of a musician can be unstable and unpredictable, and I believe happiness lies in the choice to love these factors instead of seeing them as casualties of the profession. I have no idea who that woman was, but without trying to be melodramatic, she changed my life from that moment on, and for that I am ever grateful.

I was fortunate to not have the typical theater mother and father to shove me into talent agencies and headshots, and cart me around the city for auditions. They felt childhood was too important to miss out on, and told me if I really wanted to be a singer, I would have to find out how to do it on my own. Of course, if I’d had the know-how to find the talent agencies and auditions, I know my parents would have taken and supported me. But being the slightly “concentration-challenged” and social child that I was, there were too many other things in the moment to focus on like boys, and sports, and dances. So I did all the classic school-related music activities-- I was active in school choirs, band, and musicals all through junior high and high school. I gave up dance after fourth grade to join a Minneapolis girl’s choir called Bel Canto Voices. Took up the alto sax in sixth grade, after being denied the right to study drums, due to my lack of prior piano study. (Okay, I’m still a tad bitter about this, but one day I WILL conquer the drum set!) In high school I was one of three drum majors to a 330-piece show style marching band, a member of the concert chorale, and also auditioned into an extra jazz choir class that met every morning at 6:55AM (dear lord) to rehearse for 50 minutes before the normal school day commenced. I also took music theory as a senior, by which time I was both determined and scared to death to go to college as a music major.

At the urging of my high school band director, Nathan Earp, I applied to the University of North Texas Jazz Department. I had no interest in becoming an opera singer, though I did want my college degree. Jazz, I knew, would kick my booty into shape. I was ready to commit to music, and figure out what I needed to do to create a career out of it. I no longer wanted to be a pop-idol. I wanted to really learn music and acquire the knowledge to be a respected musician.

My parents, I later found out, were nervously waiting for the day when I would call home, proclaiming I’d given up on college and was going to try to make it “on my own.” I can’t blame them, but I’m proud to say I didn’t drop out. Over the next five years I would come to learn more than I ever anticipated about music, about other instruments, about writing, about musicians and their lifestyles and quirks, but mostly, about myself. Each year felt completely different from the last, and I quickly learned what it was to be not only an adult who is responsible for her own actions, but a musician who is responsible for her own growth.

I worked whenever and wherever I possibly could. Cover band gigs, my own gigs, duo gigs with a piano player, a guitar player, eventually some studio work, pop gigs, jazz gigs, show tunes, lead vocals, back-up vocals, studio vocals where I covered all parts, etc. I did it all and loved it all. Was fortunate eno


Goodbye Geminis

Written By: Calley Bliss

I feel the sweat off my body
And you were mine
I feel the Earth as it trembles
And you were mine

And love was you
But not anymore
and never was sure

All this lightness surrounds us
I was on fire
Bearing fruit that is simple
I was on fire

And love was you
But not anymore
And never was sure

Once you've found it let it go
If it can hold you you'll know...
You'll know

Figure It Out

Written By: Calley Bliss

Life is full of lovers who lie in the beds they've made
Under the covers, forgetting to appreciate
I paid for all I felt but there was no exchange
Now you're harder to love when all I have is time well paid

At times the truth has big blue eyes
and looking into them will make me wise
and now I'm wise

Figure it out when signs are wrong, don't hold on
Figure it out when shades of grey get in your way
Figure it out and leave your heart alone - itself is all it's ever known
Figure it out in time

Learning the fact that right now the best thing that I have got
is my potential me, I have to redefine my gain and loss
Numbness you can't ignore which stares you in the face each day
Let go of answers now and let these questions guide your way

At times the truth has big blue eyes
and looking into them will make you wise
and now your wise

Figure it out when signs are wrong, don't hold on
Figure it out when shades of grey get in your way
Figure it out and leave your heart alone - itself is all it's ever known
Figure it out in time

Keeping motion let love's potion overtake you
Throw your fear out let it wear out all you have
Rhyme or reason, not this season, hot wind blows you
Fire water earth or air?

Figure it out when signs are wrong, don't hold on
Figure it out when shades of grey get in your way
Figure it out and leave your heart alone - itself is all it's ever known
Figure it out in time

And When I Lose

Written By: Calley Bliss

And When I Lose your love
I won't be lost for want
the time is right for loss
and beauty grows it's dark

And when I lose sight of
my itching fear, all's lost
a scratch that burns then runs
don't blow it out, grow up

And when you feel the grass on your feet
Find the anchor, hold on

And when I lose the sun
the rest will all be done
the earth and stone of us
a tide that brings me home...


Pigeonholed - Debut LP, 2010
The City - single, 2007

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Set List

Always tailored to each specific performance, chosen from the following:

All Mine (Calley Bliss)
Take It (Calley Bliss)
And When I Lose (Calley Bliss)
Figure It Out (Calley Bliss)
Run (Calley Bliss)
Silence (Calley Bliss)
Questions (Calley Bliss)
Replacements (Calley Bliss)
When (Calley Bliss)
Just Squeeze Me (Jazz Standard)
Killing Me Softly (Roberta Flack)
God Bless the Child (Spiritual)
Without You (Lizz Wright)
I Wanna Get Married (Nellie McKay)