Merle Haggard had 20 years of radio success under his belt by the time Cam was born, but the rising country star still draws plenty of influence from his music (and found herself saddened by his recent death). A California native as well, Cam grew up being inspired by the "Bakersfield sound" popularized by artists such as Haggard and Buck Owens, and found the courage to create her own unique style.

"I have a huge respect for what [Haggard] and Buck did, and I feel like that’s part of being a Californian," Cam tells The Boot. "It’s not about [their music being] a response to what’s going on in Nashville. At the time when they were making music, [their sound] was kind of rough -- dancing and electrics and stuff -- instead of the polished string thing that was going on at the same time. It wasn’t a purposeful reaction; the music they were making happened to be different."

Cam admits that it was in her roots to break the mold a bit with her own recent single, "Burning House."

"I love that independent streak, and that’s what’s in me as a Californian," she explains. "I am really grateful for Merle and what he did, and obviously his amazing songs and talent, and for persevering through a lot of tough stuff.

"It’s a bummer that we lost him," she adds. "It would have been nicer to have him around for a little bit longer."

Cam will be hitting the road with Dierks Bentley this summer,, for Bentley's Somewhere on a Beach Tour. A list of all of her upcoming shows is available on her website; "Burning House" is available for download on iTunes.

More Country Stars Remember Merle Haggard