Country singer Cam on her musical journey — from Oceanside to Nashville to the Grammys

Country singer Cam may spend a lot of time in Nashville these days, but Oceanside will always hold a special place in her heart.

“My grandparents have a horse ranch in Oceanside,” she says. “It’s the spot where we would spend holidays, the summertime. It is one of my places of Zen, and it’s a big part of who I am.”

These days, the ranch is where her parents live, so her concert here Saturday will be a homecoming of sorts.

“I definitely expect to see a lot of family and friends while I’m there,” says Cam, who was born in Huntington Beach and raised in Lafayette in Northern California.

Oceanside “is a special place — it’s where I learned to put Patsy Cline on repeat,” she recalls. “I pretty much loved all of her songs — ‘Walkin’ After Midnight,’ ‘Sweet Dreams.’ There was something about the emotion in her voice, and it immediately grabbed me — being that emotional. She was tapping into a part of herself that was so true — that’s the most real you can get in country music.”

Cam recently wrapped up opening on parts of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s Soul2Soul Tour, and this past Tuesday, in San Luis Obispo, launched her own tour: the nine-city Best Coast Tour, which brings her to Moonshine Beach this weekend.

The San Diego stop is in support of “Diane,” the debut single of her sophomore album, set to be released next year. Inspired by Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” the song was co-written by Cam, Jeff Bhasker and Tyler Johnson, the team behind Cam’s 2015 hit, “Burning House.” That song led to many nominations, including a Grammy for best country solo performance.

Saturday’s concert will be a welcome change of pace after a whirlwind year.

“My favorite kinds of venue is where you can see people’s faces,” she says. “Live music is a joint experience — it’s about you putting on a show and the audience putting out energy. You have to understand what kind of energy you’re getting back and react to that.”

On Saturday, “I want to bring a cozy and intimate experience,” she says. “I talk in between songs. … It’s really a musical journey, and we’re on that ride together.”

Speaking of rides, it’s been a wild ride so far for the 33-year-old who studied psychology at the University of California, Davis.

“It’s been a little crazy hanging out with Dolly Parton, performing with Alicia Keys, Vince Gill, getting nominated for a Grammy,” she says. “Coming from a background of psychology research and not thinking you’re going to be in music, you hope people respond well. I feel really lucky that I’ve gotten such a great response.”

She’s been getting great responses since her high school days, when she performed in vocal groups.

“I grew up in choir, but when you get on stage and it’s your own, it’s a whole other level of terror,” she says with a chuckle.

These days, her music — and her message — transcends any fears and insecurities she may have wrestled with.

“I want people to walk away knowing that some of their experiences are shared by all of us — like some of the tough times. I want them to not feel alone anymore. I want them to go home with delight and a little bit of wonder.”

Cam

When: Saturday, Dec. 2. Doors open at 8 p.m. Show starts at 10 p.m.

Where: Moonshine Beach, 1165 Garnet Ave., Pacific Beach

Tickets: $15 general admission. $79 meet-and-greet. 21-and-up only.

Phone: (858) 999-0158

Online: moonshinebeachsd.com

Twitter: @outdoorlivingsd

michael.rocha@sduniontribune.com

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