2019 Latin Grammys

'Burning House' Singer Cam Premieres Her Red Cross Fire Safety PSA: Exclusive Video

Ninelle Efremova
Cam

Music has a way of touching people and Cam found this out first-hand with her hit single “Burning House.”

The country singer tells Billboard that she has heard many stories from fans about how they can identify with the sobering lyrics about the break-up of a relationship. “When you have a song called ‘Burning House,’ a lot of fans love to come up and tell me their stories,” she reasoned. “A lot of them are relationship-based like mine was -- which was why I wrote the song.”

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But, some of the stories took on another emotional turn. “Some of them are about losing family members in house fires. It’s a really heavy thing to have someone come up and talk about something like that. It really shocked me how so many people have that story," Cam explains. "Growing up in California, you have a lot of fires, but you don’t really think about how many people have had that experience. It started to really sink in.”

Recently, the singer heard of the story of a tragic fire in Buffalo, N.Y., that took the life of Demetrius Thomas Johnson, Sr. following his rescue of each of his three children and fiancée. Johnson’s tragic story made Cam determined to get involved.

“It was heart-wrenching to hear the story, as the mom and the dad had just recently gotten engaged. It pulled on every heart string you’ve got. It was right at the time that I found out I had been nominated for the ACM Awards,” she said. “When that happens, the label will give you a budget to send out the mailers to voters promoting your campaign. I don’t know how I did this, but instead of doing that, I convinced them that we should send the money to this family.”

When the American Red Cross heard about the donation, they reached out to the singer about participating in their 2Steps2Minutes inititative. Upon hearing about the sobering statistics, Cam said there was no other choice to be made.

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“They explained to me that every eight minutes someone is hurt or injured in a house fire,” she noted. “That’s the number one crisis that they respond to -- even more than all natural disasters combined.”

Cam appears in a new PSA talking about the impact of "Burning House," as well as the importance of having a safety plan for your residence. “There are all kinds of things you can do to prevent it -- like checking your smoke alarm, and having a two-minute plan to get out of the house. It’s not about getting burned as much as it is smoke inhalation,” she explains.

Watch Cam's PSA for the Red Cross, which Billboard is premiering exclusively below.


Even during the shooting of the "Burning House" video, Cam had a minor brush with smoke inhalation. “It was super controlled, and the fire department had their best guys there to help. But, there was still smoke, and I had to have one of the guys rush me out for a while because one of the takes went too long," she says. "I breathed too much smoke. We were supposed to keep our takes to about twenty seconds, and I think that everyone got excited because it looked really cool. We ended up going a little long, and I ended up getting quite a bit of smoke in my nose. You can see how quickly something like that can get scary.”

The American Red Cross is happy that Cam chose to lend her name to their cause. "Tragedies like the one in Buffalo happen far too often in this country, but we can change that,” said Neal Litvack, chief marketing officer for the Red Cross. “Thanks to artists like Cam, we can spread the word that fire drills aren't just for school, so check your smoke alarm and make sure everyone can get out in two minutes."

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At the same time, Cam admitted it was a two-way street.

“I wanted to be involved with them, because my fans had experiences with this. I remember that when I was doing radio stops in California, there were fires going on. Some of the PD’s would say ‘We love this song, but to be honest right now, we can’t play it that often because it’s a totally sensitive subject.' And, you totally understand that. It makes me feel even more responsible for sometimes bringing up a bad memory, but so many people have wanted to talk about it. All of that motivated me because I am finally in a spot where I can help a little bit. It’s a great feeling to be involved with a group like the Red Cross as well to bring up awareness.”

The singer, whose latest single, “Mayday” is currently in the top 40 of the Country Airplay chart, is excited about opening for Dierks Bentley on his Somewhere on a Beach tour along with Randy Houser. She is fully expecting to be entertained by her tour mates. “We did a very cute announcement, and they are hilarious. The two of them can’t avoid having a good time, and they are very good people," she says. "It’s a fun group of people that I am looking forward to working hard and learning from. I’m really excited about it.”

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Of course, the subject of wedding bells might very well come up backstage, as both Cam and Houser are planning upcoming nuptials. “We should swap ideas,” she said with a laugh. “That would be interesting. I feel that in most cases the girls care more about that than the guys, but if his fiancée comes out on the road with us, maybe we can chat.”

Known for her prowess as a songwriter, how does the current presidential race stack up as fodder for inspiration? “I don’t know if it’s the truth, because I’ve only been around as a voter for not many elections, but my grandfather says that this election feels a little creepier than any other one," says Cam. "You could definitely say there are a lot of possibilities for song ideas. I think that’s what music is inspired by -- what is going on in real life, and when you have something colorful going on, that’s what you’re hoping for. I hope we get some good ideas out of it, because the music helps people process it all.”

Click here for more information on the Red Cross' 2 Steps2Minutes fire safety campaign.

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