Rising country music star backed by Steamboat locals | SteamboatToday.com

Rising country music star backed by Steamboat locals

Luke Graham

Tyler Johnson, from left, country artist Cam and Lindsay Marias have had a busy year launching the budding country star's career. Johnson, who is nominated for a Grammy for his songwriting, is co-producing Cam's album while Marias is her manager. Johnson and Marias are 2004 Steamboat Springs High School graduates.

— The meeting seems serendipitous.

Two former classmates meeting over drinks at Slopeside Grill a couple of years ago — finding similar career paths and eventually working with the same up-and-coming country star, who, with the people around her, seems set to burst onto a national platform in the coming years.

"But it's really not” that serendipitous, said Tyler Johnson, a 2004 Steamboat Springs High School graduate.

It may not be, but it sure creates an intriguing narrative.

Johnson and fellow 2004 Steamboat graduate Lindsay Marias did reconnect at Slopeside several years ago. Johnson had been working with a country artist and songwriter named Cam for several years. Marias was in the music industry, and Johnson said she had to meet Cam.

What followed is beyond coincidental.

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Johnson, who is nominated for a Grammy for his songwriting on Taylor Swift's album "Red," and Marias came to the same conclusion about Cam — she has a chance to be a giant star.

"What happens in the next six months, I'm not certain," Johnson said. "But by 2015, I think you'll be watching her getting nominated for Grammys. That could happen in the next two or three years. She deserves that."

Music Town USA?

Love for music drives Johnson and Marias.

Johnson left for school in Los Angeles in 2004 to study philosophy and political science, but that passion for music never left him. After graduating, he started working as an assistant for Grammy-winning producer Jeff Bhasker, who has worked with the likes of Beyonce, Taylor Swift, The Rolling Stones, Bruno Mars, P!NK, Kanye West, Rihanna and Jay Z.

About four years ago, Johnson met Cam in Los Angeles, and the two began working together, selling their songs.

A year later, after the meeting at Slopeside, Johnson began sending recordings and demos of Cam's music to Marias, who was working at a Chicago music venue.

"She came in and did an acoustic set for 30 minutes," Marias said. "It blew me away. From that moment I knew I wanted to be involved in Cam's career. Our relationship started after that moment, and it was full throttle on Cam's career."

Marias became Cam's manager and put together her tour through Colorado last winter, which included stops in Steamboat Springs.

Cam and Johnson continued to write songs and got tremendous input from Bhasker, though it was not always the best news. Bhasker said he didn't like what he originally heard from Cam and Johnson.

"It's painful when you're told it's not good enough," Johnson said. "But we worked harder. We took Jeff's notes to heart. It worked."

It certainly did.

Bhasker signed Cam to a production deal earlier this year.

The next step

Cam recently returned from a Scandinavian tour and released her first single, "Down This Road", inspired by Steamboat Springs.

Her sound and songwriting are a beautiful mix, and the next six months could put her in the spotlight. (Click here to hear Cam.)

"Hopefully, we'll be teaming up with a label to push the album," Cam said. "There is a lot of building going on, but we're moving all this forward. Everyone's had a great response to (the single). I'm real excited."

The next step for Cam is to go to Nashville to meet with record labels. The album, co-produced by Johnson, mostly is complete and set for release at some point next year.

Cam and Marias have meetings in January with some of the top album producers in the country.

With Bhasker, Johnson and Marias fully behind the project, finding a fair record deal seems inevitable.

But before that, Johnson and Marias literally will head down the road and return to Steamboat for the holidays.

The trip home will allow them to breathe and digest the past 12 months of helping develop a budding country music star.

"Our underlying motivation is (Cam) is really, really good," Marias said. "Even though it takes sacrifices, it's been really great. So many great things have happened, and it's just going to get better."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham

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