Before the 2019 SESAC Nashville Music Awards in November, country six-piece King Calaway had much to celebrate: They were walking their first-ever red carpet as a group, at an event honoring the kind of songwriting they all revered growing up.

"It's amazing to be in the songwriting capital of the world," the group's Chad Michael Jervis tells The Boot. "This is the place where you want to go to work with the best songwriters, to meet the best songwriters, and to be able to be in that community ... is something I've wanted to do since I was a kid. Now we're finally doing it, and it's an amazing feeling."

Even more so since the group capped off 2019 with their full-length debut, Rivers, which dropped in October. The record followed an EP of the same name that came out in January. Throughout the year, King Calaway explain, the fan response to their new music exceeded their expectations.

"The fans, I don't wanna say we underestimated them, but they've been really amazing," the group notes. "Like, to know all our stuff -- it's been incredible."

The songwriting community played a critical role in shaping King Calaway's album into what it became. "It would have been much worse if the Nashville songwriters weren't on it!" the group jokes. "We are very grateful for all the great writers out there, the likes of Ross Copperman -- who co-produced the album as well. And knowing that that's what they're best at, and that they were willing to share those songs with us, has been incredible."

It means a lot to King Calaway to have a fanbase that connects so deeply to their music. After all, their full-length debut is deeply personal, introducing themselves as individuals and as a band to listeners. Even the title of the project speaks to their journey.

"The reason why we went with "Rivers" [as the title track] is because, in the chorus, the lyrics are, 'I know where we belong / I know where we feel free,'" the band explains. "I think, as a band like King Calaway, where it's kind of like a different lane of country music, we really feel like when we play that song live, we really do feel like that's where we belong. So we wanted that to be the name of the album."

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