To anticipate the release of her forthcoming album titled JACKIE, Ciara has partnered with L’Uomo Vogue for the premiere of her brand new single, “I Bet”.
Ciara comes in and shakes my hand. She is magnificent: tall and slim, long jet black hair, eyes like a Byzantine Madonna, perfect complexion. Without a trace of make-up, she is wearing a long men’s t-shirt and a pair of spotless white high-top sneakers.
Whenever you meet a celebrity for the first time you never know what to expect: on screen or in glossy magazines they appear beautiful, mysterious, with a magnetic sensuality. Then when you meet them in person, they turn out to be just pretty girls. Ciara is different. The more you look at her, the more beautiful she is. What is most striking is her inexhaustible energy.
Before the interview with the R&B-pop singer, dancer, producer, model and actress (she has made three films, and appeared in the TV series The game), I listened to a dozen of her songs and watched around fifteen of her videos on YouTube. In black and white or in colour, performing rap or hip hop, strutting and winking, she is the all-consuming femme fatale. Twisting and writhing, she skims the floor and soars through the air like a sequence from Matrix. She pays tribute toMichael Jackson – in white top and skinny black jeans – repeating his dance steps, and the public goes wild. Aggressively sexy, in “Ride” she straddles an imposing buffalo. With no inhibitions.
Ciara Princess Harris, known simply as Ciara (pronounced See-err-uh) began writing songs at the age of 13. Today, at 29, with five albums and sales of seven million disks to her name, she is one of the veterans of the music industry. She has worked with legendary producers (Luke Boy, Polow Da Don), top musicians (Pharrell, will.i.am) and bestselling pop artists (Ludacris, Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliott and Justin Timberlake).
Her videos are explicitly naughty and daring. The basic ingredients are a rap background, luxury car, high top sneakers, furs, and lots of sex – suggested, imagined, provoked, consumed. Her goal is to show it, simulate it, joke about it, celebrate it, and above all sing and dance about it. “I love to express my sensuality, it makes me feel good. I think that goes for all women, we all want to express our sexuality. It is a form of power, it makes you feel self assured, in control. Every woman wants to feel sexy, and I like to play with hints and suggestions, turn it into a performance”. In this she succeeds like few others. To get an idea, go and watch her video “Ride”.
For Ciara, sexuality is a form of empowerment, and her idols are all world famous alpha-females like Missy Elliott, Madonna and Oprah. But her real god is Michael Jackson, “the most important world presence in the history of music”.
I am curious about her history. Born in Texas, to Austin, Ciara comes from a military family, her father from New York, her mother from Atlanta. “I’m a real military brat, an only child, brought up at different army bases, a little here, a little there: Germany, Arizona, Georgia and California. I learned early on how to adapt to new places, make new friends, and start over. It came in handy later on, when I was away from home on tour for months on end. But my roots are in Atlanta where I have my home and my family. I’m a Georgia Peach. That’s what they call Atlanta girls”, she laughs. From her father she learned discipline, and to be organized, punctual and never lazy. She started working when she was very little. “I’ve been dancing since I could walk, and singing since I could talk. I’ve always had a total, absolute relationship with music. I always knew what I wanted to do with my life, that I had something special in me, a God-given gift”.
You could even say that her first professional encounter came by the grace of God. “I always believed in the power of convictions, and words. I talked music with everyone, with nothing particular in mind. Then one day they asked me if I wanted to do an audition for a band. That same evening I went along with my mother, and they hired me». A year later Ciara began her solo career. At 15 she was writing songs and signed her first contract. And she never looked back.
I ask her about her relationships with men. It can’t be easy for a woman in the male-dominated music industry. “I’ve always been strong. I learned early on how to deal with men. For them interaction is based on looks. That’s the first thing they are interested in, so you have to learn right away to win their respect”. She made her debut album “Goodies” when she was 19, aimed at girls her own age (“don’t treat me like an object, or you will never have me”). With Like a Boy, a few years later, she reaffirmed her independence as a young woman in the male world of rap and hip hop (“come on girl, do like he does…”).
She is currently finishing her sixth album (it has no title yet), due out in spring. “It will be an authentic album, real. I talk openly and honestly about my emotions as a woman, mother, about my ambitions, but also my vulnerability, my happy moments and my sad moments”. She pauses. “You know, now that I have Future (Future Zahir Wilburn) with me, my angel, I am happy”. Then a surprise: Ciara wells up with tears as she talks about her seven months’ old child from a relationship with rapper Future, and shows me photos of him on Instagram. “For him I want to be the best mother in the world, and also the best business woman. I want to realize all my ambitions, and I know deep down in my heart that I will. I want to be very rich, because that’s the only way I will be able to do everything I want to”.
Ciara has big plans for the future: one day she wants to be considered the top entertainer of all time, inspire other young women, and do charity work for children. “My dream is to have homes all over the world, and continue to take on new ventures. After all”, she says seriously, as she pokes another forkful of broccoli, “who said there was no room in this world for another Oprah?”
Fashion Assistant Amanda Pine
Manicure Miho Okawara@Mihonails
Hair Stylist Brent Lawler@Streeters using Rene Furterer
Makeup Artist Yolonda Frederick-Thompson@Goldfinger CS for MAC Cosmetics
Fashion Editor Ayako Comte
Photo by Francesco Carrozzini