A native of Mission, British Columbia, Jepsen (who turns 27 on Nov. 21) began pursuing music a year or so after high school, playing pubs around Vancouver, British Columbia, playing pubs when she could and working jobs (including being a coffee barista and a bartender) to pay the bills. Jepsen wasn’t on the verge of any real breakthrough when in 2007, she talked to her high school drama instructor, who suggested that she try out for “Canadian Idol,” the counterpart north of the border to the highly popular U.S. version, “American Idol.”
“She was like, ‘Carly, I know you’re trying everything, but try this. Why not? It could be a bit of exposure. Worst case scenario, you go to audition and it doesn’t work and you just keep doing whatever you do,’” Jepsen recalled, noting that she resisted the idea for a time. “It wasn’t until season five that I finally caved in to her suggestion and went and tried it.”
Jepsen passed her audition and landed on the “Canadian Idol” television show, eventually finishing third in that season’s
That led to a record deal and the release in Canada of her 2008 debut CD, “Tug Of War,” which produced a pair of hit singles, ‘Tug Of War” and “Bucket.”
It would be three more years before Jepsen released more music, but when that next song arrived in September 2011 in Canada, it would be a game changer. It was “Call Me Maybe,” and by Christmas time, the song was getting airplay in Canada.
And it was on Canadian radio that another Canadian star, Bieber, heard “Call Me Maybe” and instantly fell for the song.
He started tweeting about it and then made a viral video parody of “Call Me Maybe” (with Selena Gomez and Ashley Tisdale among others) that spread like wildfire across the internet. Soon Jepsen had signed on with Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, and Bieber’s record label, Schoolboy Records, and radio beyond Canada was jumping on the “Call Me Maybe” bandwagon. The song became more than a hit. It was a phenomenon, going No. 1 in 37 countries, including the United States, where it held the top spot on the “Billboard” 100 for nine weeks.