Ow yes. Your eyes ain’t lying. That hottie on those black & white Polaroids is indeed none other than Ciara Princess Harris, also known as CIARA aka ‘The First Lady Of Crunk’. She is that type of artist you’ll probably never see in real life, never see in the flesh, never see in front of you. It’s like Tom Cruise or Will Smith. Or Oprah for that matter. Or one of those Victoria Secret models. You look at them on a screen, and it’s almost as if they are not real, like they don’t really exist because you will probably never ever meet them in your lifetime. Well. I was lucky enough to meet Ciara and have her as my first A Polaroid Story feature for 2013….
Do you remember the first time you ever saw or heard Ciara? I do. It was in this video actually.
This was the first single of Ciara’s debut album GOODIES released in 2004 and boy o boy, did she make a good first impression! I was in the midst of my growing love for everything r’n’b related and her music style, looks and dance moves were so appealing to me, I was like dajumn…who is this girl!!? At some point, I even considered going out in the same blue jeans, blue bikini and cropped white top with long sleeves but I reconsidered the idea right on time and stuck with the massive hoops instead.
I réally fell in love with her when this song came out.
That southern style, the heavy bass, her dance moves, the sexy but ‘never not classy’ attitude and Ludacris spitting those lyrics, man…. I remember blasting this song out loud and dancing to it in my bathroom, because I never heard the song play at the parties I went to. I know that song by heart (yes also Ludacris his lyrics ) and I played this remix a gazillion times. This track made me acquainted with music coming from Atlanta and I never stopped loving ‘the southern’ element in music, even though it was considered a bit ‘ratchet’. Back then, it was more the Neptunes, Jay-Z, Ashanti & J-Lo ruling the few clubs that played that type of music in Belgium.
The 3rd single of her Grammy nominated and certified triple platinum GOODIES album was a huge hit in the clubs, and it looks like that ‘Ciara meets Missy Elliot’ collaboration was a match made in heaven.
From her second album in 2006 called CIARA: THE EVOLUTION, ‘Get Up’ was the first single that was released, a track that was also featured on the STEP UP movie soundtrack. You know, that dance movie starring Channing Tatum(mmm)
However, I really loved this song ànd video called LIKE A BOY. In this track Ciara decided to switch up the roles in a relationship, something I could totally relate to. I loved everything about this classic black and white video. The styling, the grand Michael Jackson inspired choreography and even the Reggie Bush cameo.
I can’t leave out this down-tempo ballad track, where Ci Ci ‘s luscious dance moves and signature floor crawls were directed by Janet Jackson’s choreographer Tina Landon. PROMISE was received very well by the music critics as well.
After touring as a headliner in the States and some supported tours with Chris Brown and Rihanna, Ciara came back in 2009 with her third studio album called FANTASY RIDE. Personal highlight from that album was, of course, this track featuring Justin Timberlake.
Such a sexy track and the video was just…. perfection. I mean, poles, strip club lights ànd JT? You can’t go wrong with that. I really liked her WORK track ft Missy Elliot as well. Excellent track to work out on and the styling in the video was on-point and uhm, can I please point out the cray-zy choreo? Don’t try this at home. Really. Don’t.
Her 4th studio album BASIC INSTINCT wasn’t a huge success, but this song and steaming hot video was definitely a hit in the clubs. Ciara never disappoints when it comes to showing off her serious dance skills in combination with a good portion of sexual appeal. The video got banned on BET because of it. So… job well done I think.
After some trials and tribulations with her former label, Ciara signed with a new label and is finally back on track with her 5th studio album called ONE WOMAN ARMY.
The following ‘SORRY’ track is the first single released from that album and shows a big contrast with the heavy bass and up tempo music you might associate Ciara with, however, the smooth dance moves are definitely still there.
Ciara just released this WAKE UP, NO MAKE UP track produced by Mike Will (Bandz A Make Her Dance) featuring Future which is a clear throwback to the classic heavy bass Ciara style we are all familiar with and Ciara singing the hook like the legit sultry temptress she is.
ONE WOMAN ARMY will be released early 2013.
Now. Let’s get to story real quick.
To promote her upcoming album ONE WOMAN ARMY, Ciara is touring through Europe and unbelievable but true, Ci Ci was booked at Club Noxx in Antwerp to do a short club appearance. Another thing that was unbelievable but true, was that this years New Years wishes from SONY came with the question if I was interested in featuring Ciara on A Polaroid Story. I mean…are you kidding me?! I’d die to have a few more women on the blog and I wasn’t planning on refusing a legit meeting with Ciara. God knows what kind of hustles he has for me in store in 2013, and every opportunity I get to have a normal sit down with an artist I grab with both hands.
So last week I found myself back at the club I was thrown out after a very exhausting hustle to get Rick Ross on Polaroid. Remember ROSS BEEF? Well. This time the story went the exact opposite way. When I entered the club after only 2 minutes waiting at the front desk, I heard somebody yell: ‘Elisabeth Ouni?’ and before I knew it, my friend and assistant Aicha and myself were smoothly escorted stràight into the backstage lodges. In less than 2 minutes I was standing where I should be, a huge contrast to the long, exhausting hustle I had to endure on a Christmas eve 2 years ago. Honestly? I felt like I really deserved that. So I entered a room filled with journalists and accompanied camera men who each were given 10 minutes to interview Ciara.
I came well prepared, with two different Polaroid cameras, a bunch of questions and Aicha who was in charge of illustrating the exhibits for this story. I was the last one on the list and when I was escorted to her backstage chambers I was advised to make it quick because they were running late on the schedule and SONY advised me to get the Polaroids first and the interview second.
When I came in I found Ciara sitting on a chair close to a heater in a very laid back outfit but stunning nonetheless. I went straight to business, introduced myself and my work and asked her if it was ok to take some Polaroid shots first. She was totally down for it (ofcourse, she is a former Wilhelmina model) and I put her in front of the cleanest wall I could find in the room. I asked her to give me two different expressions, aimed my camera and…
The clock was ticking, so next on my to do list was my interview, unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any pictures during the interview, so no exhibits from that, but this is what we talked about….
A POLAROID STORY x CIARA
Welcome in Belgium! Ever been here before…..?
Uhm…No. (laughs) I probably should get a waffle , I just thought bout that…”
So. 2004 was the year it all began for you, that’s when you came out as artist with ‘GOODIES’. We’re almost 9 years later, so that means you are pushing close to 10 years in the game. What’s the difference between Ciara now and Ciara back then?
Well. I think the biggest difference, from the beginning untill now is the fact that my confidence has grown. I’ve just become so much more confident than when I was younger. I have much more clarity from the angle that I want to work on as an artist, and as a business woman. I’m much more comfortable in my skin.
Probably a lot more familiar with the music industry? A little tougher maybe?
Yeah…Defintily more in touch with my environment.
You’re about to release your 5th album ‘One Woman Army’ what can we expect? Sorry, Sweat & Wake Up, No Make Up (which I love) have already been released, what will the rest of the album be like?
I feel that on ‘One Woman Army’ there will be something for everyone. You’re gonna get the super-super throwback Ciara records with like…. a lot of bass, a lot of….attitude (smiles) and also at the same time, It’s going to be the perfect blend of ‘Ghetto Pop’ and I want to make sure that there is something on there for everyone. I’ve been very blessed over the years that not only girls can listen to my music, but the guys can listen to it too and that is important to me. I ‘ll always be able to hit a stage at the bottom, in the hood, but at the same time being able to travel abroad and do some really fun pop stations as well. It’s important for me to touch everyone.
The perfect blend of…
The perfect blend of R’n’B and Pop, yeah.
After some issues with JIVE you are back under the wings of LA REID, who just won the X-Factor coaching a country star, which I think is very interesting and the proof of the marketable talent a person like LA REID has. You must feel safe again?
You know what….I just feel safe… to be home. It’s my home. He has always believed in me since the beginning, and there is nothing like being able to be in an environment where someone believes in you,, wholeheartedly, 100 %. So I feel that I’m in an environment where I’m surrounded by support on every angle and that makes the process of making music so much more fun because I can just focus on being creative because I know the support is there. And… he is just an amazing music man. He is like the last of his breed. There’s not to many like him…
You probably know….but you are somewhat of a fetish for many DJ’s/Producers who remix you…
(Ciara looks at me -very- surprised probably because I use the word ‘fetish’.)
You might be out of the charts, but at the moment there’s probably some DJ or young producer chopping up or remixing your music and making it current again with their own underground versions of it.
Alright… (still surprised)
Do you know dj-duo Flosstradamus?
Hmmm…. (shakes her head)
Well, they tweeted about you a few times, and another dj duo NGUZUNGUZU also did a dope remix, DJ & producer Brodinski is obviously a fan, because he featured some remixes of your music on his mixtape aswell. My point is, how do you feel about the underground scene chopping up your music?
I love it! I think it’s great when somebody takes your music, old or new, it doesnsn’t matter, they just find ways to make it fit in with what’s happening in the club and that’s really really dope.
Would you ever consider to make a mix tape with only underground producers/dj’s ? Like for example Ciara meets Jamie XX, or Diplo or Flosstradamus, or Brenmar even?
Anything is possible if it makes sense creatively. I love the dj’s, I love great producers and I support them, so if something made sense I’m always open to the idea.
There are a lot of new women in the game right now. Azealia Banks, Angel Haze, Nicki Minaj. Who is the most remarkable for you at the moment?
(very determined) Of all the names you just said…Nicki Minaj. I like Nicki’s story, because I met her before she was on this…massive trail that she has blazed. It’s just really cool to see her story and to see her dreams come to fruition and come to life.
From all the women I mentioned before, Nicky Minaj has become one of the most mainstream and when I read the foreign media/press that reaches my radar, I kind of feel that she gets a lot of slack at the moment for the ‘commercial’ road she took. What do you think about that?
Ow, you mean because she is able to crossover? You know what…? To each his own. And I’m happy for her, because she is now one of thé biggest artists in the world and for anyone to reach thàt point is just really awesome. I support a person that is able to live their dreams. That other stuff…I don’t really care for it, that’s for media and other people to talk about. I’m happy for her!
You flirt with fash…..
– I get interrupted in my interview at 07:52 minutes and have to ask my last question because Ciara has to go and do her performance at Club Noxx, so I look through my next 5 questions, didn’t know which one to pick because I wanted to ask them all, so I decided to finish how I traditionally do with this last question: –
If I say Belgium…what 3 words pop up in your head?
Well…I was going to say waffle? That’s one…uhm. My vision of Belgium is…. Beautiful and…Poppin’.
All of a sudden a sweet lady from Ciara’s entourage who looks like she might be her sister says:
“Belgium has the best fries. They call it French Fries, but they actually come from Belgium.”
And with these words of wisdom I said my goodbyes to one of the most gorgeous women in the music industry and off she went, straight to go and meet the crowd at Club Noxx. I was very curious what type of performance this would be but since she was dressed so laid back, I didn’t really expect her to go down and dirty on the dance floor. When we entered the club venue, the club was totally packed and Ciara was already busy doing her meet and greet with the crowd. Like a (extremely beautiful) fish in a bowl she gracefully let the crowd ‘go mobile’ on her.
After the short meet and greet, Ciara went straight to the DJ booth and brought a couple of her biggest hits live and I’m actually very happy to say that she really holds her own when she sings life. You might expect that Ciara has more of a studio voice, but she can definitely reach her high notes when she sings live, something I was honestly very surprised to see. After almost 10 years in the game she still got it. The goodies ànd the voice. After a short set of approximately 5 songs she greeted the crowd and left the DJ booth.
I left the club with a very contempt feeling. I felt blessed that I have a label like SONY supporting me where they can and I felt blessed that I could walk in into that club so easily after all the hustle I’ve been through before. It was the first time I actually left Club Noxx with some Polaroids. At 2AM me and Aicha were hanging in the sofa, tired but happy, enjoying some camomile tea. While looking at the amazing Polaroids all I could think of was that those Polaroids symbolize the result of pure perseverance.
Hold on to something, do your thing, keep on doing it, and one fine day you will be rewarded for your efforts.
Special thanks to SONY for the support and Aicha for the additional pictures!