Father’s Day Special: Colbie Caillat on Her Dad’s Influence, Why She Went Makeup-Free for ‘Try’ Video

Colbie Caillat

Kurt Iswarienko

updated 06/12/2014 AT 6:00 PM ET

originally published 06/13/2014 AT 9:00 AM ET

Colbie Caillat doesn’t love basketball (“I don’t have the attention span for sports,” she tells PEOPLE, laughing), but when she takes the court to perform the National Anthem during Game 5 of the NBA Finals, she’ll be honoring a very special fan: her dad.

The songwriter’s father, Ken, is a big-time music producer who’s worked with Fleetwood Mac, Billy Idol and his very talented daughter. Caillat, 29, will sing Sunday before the San Antonio Spurs take on the Miami Heat at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. And just in time for Father’s Day, Caillat shares how he has shaped her as an artist.

“My dad is one of the sweetest human beings around,” she tells PEOPLE. “He’s so patient with people and has so many ideas that he’s so much fun to work with.”

The father-daughter duo collaborated on Caillat’s 2007 breakout album Coco – featuring her endless infectious hit “Bubbly” – and next three projects.

Not that making music together is always easy.

“It’s so funny because when you’re working with an acquaintance or someone else, you’re being more polite, Caillat jokes. “I find that I’m a little bit more of a brat when I’m in the studio with my dad so I feel bad.”

But Caillat has learned a lot from her father, including how to navigate an industry obsessed with image.

“He always wanted me to enjoy it and be myself. That’s something that my parents always tried reminding me when I was younger,” she says.

“I was always trying to dye my hair and get these weird haircuts and pluck my eyebrows. I was always trying to find myself. And they were always the ones who were like, ‘You’re beautiful as you are.’ They know firsthand that it’s a really crazy work environment, and the people around you, you don’t know who to trust. They always just remind my to enjoy it and be myself, and to stand my ground.”

It’s a tough lesson – and one that Caillat tackles in “Try,” a beautiful ballad of empowerment off Gypsy Heart Side A, the five-song EP she dropped Monday to preview her album coming out later this year.

Colbie Caillat

Kurt Iswarienko
“Try” was inspired by a recording session conversation with Kenneth and two songwriters about the challenges women in music face.

“I was venting to them about how people in the business around me wanted me to be someone that I’m not. They wanted me to dress a little sexier and kind of change the artist that I was, and I didn’t know what to do because I thought, okay, if this is what people are wanting, should I change?” she recalls. “And they were like, absolutely not you don’t have to try to be someone else, because people like who you are.”

To spread that message, Caillat created a now viral lyric video, inviting fans and famous friends like Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crow and Sara Bareilles to send in selfies – all showing their makeup-free, natural beauty.

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