Most teenagers are more likely to be out causing havoc and not doing their homework instead of knuckling down and penning catchy country pop songs.
But singer songwriter Chilli McCallum certainly isn’t your average 16 year old. Chilli – whose real name is Charlotte – lives in Coleshill, near Amersham, with her family and is in her first year of sixth form at the prestigious Berkhamsted School – all while focusing on her fledgling music career.
But the teenager is taking it all in her stride and is endearingly modest about her talent. In fact, part of her charm is the fact she doesn’t realise just how good she is.
The last couple of months have been a whirlwind for the rising young star – gigs, radio interviews and the launch party to celebrate the release of her debut EP, The Long Road, out now as a CD but available to buy in digital format on iTunes and Spotify in early December.
The original tune is a nod to her love of country music but with a young, fresh vibe thanks to her unique singing style. She credits her many trips to America as a child for her interest in country artists and their music.
Chilli said: “There are many artists that influence me, including James Taylor, John Mayer and Faith Hill. I love Springsteen and The Dixie Chicks, too.
“I find it amazing that some songs written by these artists have the power to relate to you so personally.” And Chilli’s spicy moniker isn’t, as some may think, down to a fiery temper – it is simply a childhood nickname. Mum Amanda said: “One of Chilli’s friends started calling her it and it just stuck. We all call her that now.” It can’t be easy for the youngster – juggling exams, song-writing and a social life.
When asked how many hours a week she devotes to practising, Chilli said: “I find it hard to answer because for me, I don’t see it as something I have to do, I see it as something I want to do.
“In terms of time, I guess it depends if I’m writing or rehearsing for an upcoming performance.”
Her latest performance in Dacorum was at The King’s Arms in Berkhamsted, where she was supporting Australian Bela Takes Chase – a fusion of electro and haunting acoustic sounds.
In contrast, Chilli’s style is softer – reminiscent of long, hot summer holidays enjoyed as a carefree teenager – and the singer reassures fans that there will be lots more performances to come.
“I will also be, as always, writing and making more music throughout the year.
“The finished products of me writing with just a guitar still continues to amaze me!”
Chilli – who has already been interviewed live on air on Luton’s Diverse FM – will be on the airwaves once again during festive season, performing an acoustic session on BBC Three Counties Radio on Saturday, December 14.
Keep up to date with what else she’s getting up to by checking out her Facebook page – www.facebook.com/chilli.musician – or visiting her website at www.chillimusic.me.uk.