Alessia Cara

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The teenage years can be quite the ride of emotions and hang-ups. It’s a time when your identity is being shaped daily and your peers influence so many of your choices. Directly in the midst of this transformative stage of life is 18-year-old singer-songwriter Alessia Cara.

The Canadian chanteuse exudes youthful innocence in the physical form but her music suggests wisdom beyond her adolescent years. Newly signed to Def Jam Records, the small town girl from Brampton, Ontario has already made quite the impression as an artist in such a short period of time.

With the release of her captivating debut single “Here” (co-written by Sebastian Cole), catching on at a feverish pace due to its authenticity and vulnerability, Cara is positioning herself to be a bona fide new star.

“‘Here’ is a true story,” Cara confesses. “It’s a party song, but really it’s the complete opposite of a party song. It’s absolutely me; it shouts out the person in the corner of the party, looking around uncomfortably. I feel like this song narrates what the wallflower is thinking.”

Like a few of her inspirations (Drake, Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, and Ed Sheeran), Cara isn’t afraid to reveal her most personal, inner-thoughts in a song. Not just a persuasive songwriter, Cara also plays acoustic guitar adding another dimension to draw listeners into her web of reflection and pensiveness.

While her vocals are soft and tender, her lyrics jolt and strike with purpose and intent. In her song “Wild Things,“ Cara is bold, self-assured, and resolute in addressing those not accepting of her individuality, singing:

Find table spaces/say your social graces/bow your head
They’re pious here/but you and I we’re pioneers
We make our own rules/our own room/nobody’s here
Let ‘em sell what they are selling/there are no buyers here
So gather all the rebels now/we’ll rebel rouse and sing aloud/
We don’t care what they say no way
And we will leave the empty chairs/to those who say we can’t sit there
We’re fine all by ourselves

While pop acts usually go the conventional route of recording songs with generic subject matter, Cara appears to understand the great power of fusing melody with substance. With budding stardom looming and new social circles forming, let’s hope the talented introvert can maintain her sense of self to represent for the loners wanting to be heard, not seen.

DISCOVER is a column featuring signed artists and bands on the rise.

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