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What do Grammy winner Usher and 19-year-old new sensation Ciara have in common? The answer is ‘Crunk & B’. What’s that you ask? Read on to know more.

Even though the music business sees new young talent emerge all the time, 19-year-old Ciara (pronounced ‘Sierra’) is a rarity. At age 15 she had a publishing deal, writing songs for R&B singers Mya and Blu Cantrell. Just before her 17th birthday she signed a recording deal with BMG. Since then she has gone on to have a number one hit by the time she turned 18 and the party, it seems, is only beginning.

Hailing from Austin, Texas and now living in Atlanta, Ciara comes from a military background which led her to also live in Germany, New York, California, Arizona and Nevada. The teenager knew what she wanted to do very early on and set about reaching her goals single-mindedly. She says, “I remember watching Destiny’s Child perform on TV one day. That’s when I made up my mind and said ‘Hey I wanna do this.’ I watched my peers around me and they were worried about who’s wearing what, going to school, trying to talk to somebody and I was like ‘I’m trying to be somebody. What can I do to get there as soon as possible?’”

Unlike other teenagers, Ciara wasn’t ‘all talk, no action’. She actually wrote her goal down on paper. “I wrote down that I had a goal to be a professional singer and I wanna be there soon. I had to sacrifice a lotta things and I think that was the key to getting me there. I cut out going to the movies, I cut out hanging with my friends, I actually told some of my friends ‘This month we’re not gonna hang out or talk on the phone.’ I don’t have too many friends anyway – less is better for me. I cut out the boyfriend – actually I had my heart broken so I was really like, ‘I’m about to do this. I’m about to be on top.”

Her sacrifice paid off and things began moving very quickly from then on. She joined a girl group, left to go solo, nabbed a publishing deal and eventually hooked up with producer Jazze Pha whom she refers to as her “music soul mate.” “God really put him in my life for a reason,” she says. “Our vibe is incredible.” Jazze Pha clearly thought so too because he signed Ciara to his Sho’ Nuff label after working with her for only five days.

Get familiar with the term ‘crunk’ because you’re going to be hearing a lot more of it in the year to come. Crunk is a genre of music described as a sensual, grinding, form of R&B that works incredibly well on the dance floor and is best listened to cranked up on your stereo. Says producer Lil’ Jon of the newly-formed genre, “Crunk & B songs are R&B songs that get you crunk. They make you wanna wild out.” Originally crunk was a street term and reserved for aggressive, largely male artists.

Then along came Ciara and she now has the distinction of being only the second artist to release a Crunk & B song, the first being Usher with his hit single Yeah. Ciara’s song is called Goodies and her album, with the same title, is a female empowerment record. “I’m so happy I wrote Goodies,” Ciara enthuses. “I pray everybody gets it the way they’re supposed to. The female has the power. The female is in control on this song. This is one of those records for the ladies.” In the hook, Ciara warns, “If you’re looking for the goodies keep on looking ‘cause they stay in the jar.” “I think we all run across this problem,” she explains. “A guy thinks you’re gonna be with him because he’s got the [riches], he’s popular and all that. But that ain’t it. That ain’t gonna make me give you my number and that’s definitely not gonna make me go home with you. It’s the truth.”

L’il Jon says he was impressed by Ciara’s approach to the song, which she co-wrote with Yeah songwriter Sean Garrett. “She did an excellent job on it,” says Jon. “It’s the way she rides over the track, the way she freaks the beat and the stuff that she says to connect her with other women. She’s saying stuff that women can relate to. Guys are always trying to get some from a girl and she’s like ‘You can’t have it’. That’s what makes her stand out and this is one of those records with that undeniable energy where, as soon as the beat comes on, it catches you and makes you move. You can’t sit still when that song comes on. Crunk music, you can’t fake because it’s all about the energy. It’s gotta be real.”

The key element to Ciara’s debut album is its easy-to-relate-to subject matter. She explains that the focus is on keeping it real, “The songs are very catchy. They’re for all demographics, all age ranges….They’re not as personal as I want to be. I’d rather be more personal on the second album, once I grow a little more.”

You can read the rest of our feature on Ciara in the March 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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