Briana Calhoun is a singer/songwriter from Louisiana with a unique style and an incredible story. She's gone from jailbird to songbird and offers music to empower others.
“I’ve definitely got an underdog story,” she says. “Whenever I tell someone what I’ve been through they usually can’t believe it.”
During her teens Calhoun fell victim to addiction, depression, and self-hatred. Eventually, things took an even darker turn and by her early 20’s she was doing time in state prison for multiple possession charges.
“I wanted to stop but I couldn’t on my own,” she admits. “I know it can be hard to hear, but doing time was literally what saved me. I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t-- probably not here.”
Calhoun says it’s taken her years to recuperate from everything that happened, but she doesn’t regret it.
“I’m not ashamed of my past. Shame is only going to hold you back. Going through what I went through made me who I am and I think it gave me the strength to follow my dreams to the fullest – something I wasn’t capable of when I was in the throes of addiction.”
Miraculously, Calhoun was able to turn her life around. Today, she has a Master's degree, a successful career as a language teacher, and a beautiful family. In addition to her career and family, Briana Calhoun is an accomplished singer, songwriter, and recording artist.
“I believed what happened
for a reason. My dream isn’t just to make music for a living — it’s to help others who are experiencing the same heartache.
But her new life didn’t come easy…
After her release from Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women, Calhoun was able to secure a job in journalism, but after a couple of years, felt led to pursue teaching. Because of her background, her teaching license was denied -- twice – but she was determined. And, after appealing to the state board of education, a hearing was held at the state capitol and an exception was made.
“I honestly only had two choices when I got locked up: give everything to God and turn my life around, or die. If I went back to my old life I wasn’t gonna make it. That’s how bad things had gotten. And I didn’t want to die. I wanted a good life and a career. I loved music but it wasn’t going to pay the bills and no one was going to do anything for me so I just kept pushing and wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
In 2019, after establishing her family and career, Calhoun finally started pursuing her passion for music while still teaching and being a mother. She released multiple singles she recorded in Louisiana and in just a few months, reached over 100k streams on Spotify. Furthermore, she was featured in several independent music publications including “Taste of Indie,” “Her Song Music Blog” and “Indie Music Reporter.”
“I mean it could be better, but considering I started from ground zero and did it all myself I was proud of my results – and it gave me the traction I needed to take my career one step further,” she said.
In the summer of 2020 she recorded an LP with professional musicians and producers in Nashville. Her first single off the LP, aptly titled “Nashville,” has been receiving national acclaim ever since its release in November. Recently, Calhoun and her new single have been nominated in four different categories by the Independent Music Network in Los Angeles, Calif. for New Artist Breakout Single, Country Breakout Single, Favorite Impact Artist, and New Discovery Artist.
Her latest single “Nashville,” Calhoun says, actually came from watching a PBS documentary:
“A few months ago, I happened to catch a documentary that wove the stories of country music greats together during their rise to fame in the 50s and 60s -- Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash. There were all these old photos of them sitting in lounges laughing, and smoking cigarettes and I thought, ‘now THAT’S the Nashville I’d like to see.’ Anyone in the music industry can tell you that it can be less than glamorous. In fact, it’s full of sacrifice and disappointment. But what drives us is the idea and passion of our dreams. So even though the song starts out with a hard reality, of ‘things falling through’ it ends on a hopeful note that dreams still come true every day.”
There are still two other tracks on the LP, “Meltdown” and “Fallin,’” that have yet to be released. Calhoun says she hasn’t decided on her next release date, but she has been teasing the songs on social media and has gotten positive feedback from fans.
“It’s pretty amazing to see how far I’ve come in under two years,” Calhoun said. “And the best part is I’m just getting started.”
In the meantime, Calhoun has been writing and collaborating with multiple award-winning songwriters, producers, and musicians in Nashville and beyond. She also admits that in October, she was offered a record deal by an independent label, but says she is waiting for the right fit.
“I’m not just going to take the first deal that comes along. I want to know that it’s right in my heart.”
Until then, Calhoun says she will continue writing and recording and plans to expand her reach into Texas later this year with a summer tour.
“Here’s the thing: I really don’t care about being famous, but it’d be nice to be able to say, ‘Hey, you remember that song such-and such? Yeah, I wrote that,’” Calhoun said. “You know what they say: do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life… that’s really all I want.”
Briana Calhoun is a registered BMI artist. She is currently taking a break from live shows, but hopes to start booking again in the Spring of 2021. Her discography, links to social media, and contact information can be found on her website: www.brismusic.com
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When people think of prison, they don’t expect someone to say that it’s a good thing.