Don’t Seek Inspiration…Be the Inspiration

James Calleo’s work as a writer and storyteller began in his high chair before he spoke his first word. As an infant, Calleo sketched images on paper to tell his story; now, as an accomplished singer/songwriter, Calleo transforms his images into a creative musical experience, with an uncanny ability to blend folk and country music with a little bit of rock and roll.

Encouraged by his family, Calleo began his lifelong love affair with music at an early age. He never took formal music lessons as a boy; he preferred to learn by ear, teaching himself the guitar and piano. By age 16, he had already written several pieces and performed regularly from a makeshift stage in his basement to high school friends, neighbors and family. In 2008, Calleo organized a band and took the lead on booking gigs, managing production and writing songs entirely on his own.

When Calleo turned 18 he went off to college but dropped out one year later. “In hindsight, I knew college wasn’t for me, but I went anyway. Partly because I didn’t know what else to do.” After he
dropped out, he found himself living with his parents and building koi fish ponds while his passion for music started to fade. “I was in a dark place and didn’t know how to get out.”

That next day, he got a phone call that changed his life. “A volunteer organization, Kerala Volunteer, called me about a teaching opportunity in a remote village in Kerala, India,” Calleo recalls.
“They were looking for somebody to teach English through music to prepare kids for English speaking job opportunities in a city nearby,” he explains. “The next day, I bought a plane ticket to a rural village in southern India and a few weeks later, me and my guitar were on a plane to Kerala.”

The children at the school greeted Calleo with love and excitement. They were thrilled to have someone from America teaching at RRUP, their school, and he was excited to be there. Calleo created songs with the kids, sang Bob Marley and had so many good laughs, and in exchange his students taught him traditional Indian songs and dance. “It was then that I vowed to seek fulfillment through the pursuit of serving others through my stories and my music. I began writing short stories again.”

After a few months, Calleo’s girlfriend Meghan joined him in Kerala. A dynamic yoga instructor, she began teaching yoga to the kids in the halls of the school house while Calleo played his music. ‘I hope my music and Meghan’s yoga inspired the kids in some way. I know their smiles, laughter and willingness to learn inspired us.’

When asked if he would do it again, Calleo says YES definitely but adds… ”Packing up your bags and traveling abroad is not the only way to get inspired. It can be as simple as waking up and trying something new to shake up your daily norm. Actually, it’s more about getting off the couch and NOT seeking inspiration, but BEING the inspiration!” Today, James and Meghan combine Yoga and Music to inspire others.

You can find Calleo’s music and yoga events at and by following him on Instagram @jamescalleo. To learn more about Kerala Volunteers and its programs in schools like RRUP, visit