Cara O’Neal is a singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and teacher. She is aspiring to bring back the old school sound with a new school vibe. Her creative visions can be heard in the lyrics of her music. Her love for people drives her to create that sound that everyone can enjoy. She talks with Lashaun Turner about her latest project exclusively for 247HipHopNews.com.
If you could write a headline about yourself what would it be?
I’m definitely going for the headline “WHO’S THAT GIRL?!!” like the Eve song lol or “ALL EYEZ ON C”. I think it’s creative and fits since I’m an upcoming artist; the new kid on the block that’s trying to show the world who I am so, naturally I feel like people are going to want to see what I’m all about.
Where are you from? Have your surroundings shaped you in a creative sense, and in what way(s)?
I was born in Houston (H-tineee!) and raised in Katy. Katy is about 30 minutes away from Houston, which is great because I stay going back and forth. I am definitely connected to each of them and have love for both. Katy is really “relaxed”. Now Houston…I LOVE Houston! The city itself along with our people and culture is just a whole vibe! It’s filled with a lot of vibrant energy! It’s really beautiful (besides the traffic!) My surroundings for sure have played a major role in shaping me creatively. It has shaped me to think outside the box, to not be afraid to just go for it, to embrace my own lane/wave and to always remain authentic and true to myself in everything that I create and do.
You were part of the R&B girl-group TrulyUnique but now you’re a solo artist, how does it feel to be on your own vs. the group dynamic?
Yes! Shout out to my group members! We worked so hard. Being in a group with my sisters and cousin was an amazing feeling, especially being able to witness our growth individually and as a whole. You get to take each individual’s creativity, uniqueness and just blend it together into one beautiful vision. I loved the feeling of all of us on stage supporting each other while performing.
I will say it is a very different feeling being a solo artist now. In a group, everything is shared: spotlight time, decision making, etc. Now, all the creative decisions are strictly made by me. I can’t lie, I do love that aspect of it; being my own boss and making my own decisions creatively. I enjoy the process of bringing my own personal visions to life.
Can you run me through the making of your latest single “Heartbeat”? How the idea came about and what the studio vibes were like?
Of course! So, with ‘Heartbeat’, when I first heard the beat, I was locked in. It gave me that whole 90’s laid back feel. It reminded me so much of Aaliyah’s ‘One In A Million’ beat, which is why I think I fell so in love with it because Aaliyah is a top inspiration for me and I think you can hear her influence on me in the song. I’m just a huge fan of the whole 90’s/early 2000’s era and the beat just gave that vibe with a new twist so, when it came to writing the lyrics, it was pretty easy. I pretty much just started freestyling lyrics on how it feels to meet that guy that you feel like can’t be compared to anyone else and how it makes you feel internally slightly; like to the point where it feels like your heart is about to explode.
When I went to the studio to record this track, it was me, my mom (manager), and one of the flyest female engineers I’ve ever worked with, Dorothy. A lot of woman empowerment in the room, which was dope! Having an all-female team full of bosses in one room, the vibes were indescribable. It was fun and the energy I needed.
What inspires you daily to write & record music?
I’m inspired by life for sure. Whether it’s my own personal experiences or witnessing the process or challenges that the people around me have been through or are going through at that moment. I’m constantly taking all of that and putting it into my music. Music is my voice and my way to express how I see things or how I feel on life issues, to have fun, and to be a voice for people who might not have the words to express a moment that they are going through. I’m inspired by the positive effects my songs and singing have had on people. It’s one of the most priceless feelings to hear someone say “Oh my gosh, I love your song!” , “I relate to your music/song” , or “That song you made, I felt that”. Before I started working on my Masters degree full time currently, I worked as a teacher. My favorite line that I heard a student tell me when she heard that I sang was “Ms. O’Neal, seeing you sing makes me want to go after my dreams” and that is why I want to continue to do what I do. I want to inspire and motivate people to not be perfect, but to strive to be the best versions of themselves. I want to use my gift for good.
You’ve performed and won at various events and showcases. What is your most memorable experience thus far & why?
My most memorable experience so far as a solo artist would definitely be hearing my song played for the first time on a radio station! Priceless! That was considered a “winning” moment for me! My cheeks were so sore from grinning so hard and being so overwhelmed with excitement! So grateful for the moment and to the station that gave my song a chance to be heard!
Do you have any plans to tour?
Yes ma’am!! That would be a serious dream come true!! I’ve never had the chance to experience “tour life” yet, but I’m praying with everything that me and my team have planned that Lord’s will, I will get that opportunity soon whether it’s solo or collaborating with another artist or artists! I’m speaking it into existence!
What is next for you? What do you want your supporters to know about you?
I’m currently working on putting together my first EP, which I’m really excited about. It’s been a fun, stressful process, but worth it. I’m really excited to show people a little more of me as a writer and artist! I’m also planning to start performing again! I had a little “break” period to reset and reflect, which I think is important, but I’m back and ready to go to work! Hopefully go on tour soon! I’m also in the process of working on earning my Master’s degree and in the process of putting together a few things to give back to my community. There’s a whole list of ideas that I want to share, but I’m just going to wait to share until all the final details are done! I’m ready to go harder on all levels!
I just want my supporters to know that I’m a passionate woman who’s all about being authentic and bringing good vibes; I appreciate the simple things that a lot of people look over these days like realness. I just want to make memorable music, to inspire, to be a blessing to someone, to motivate people to never quit this crazy beautiful thing called life, and to own who you are! There’s nothing more beautiful than being yourself. I really push the whole “Stay in your lane and do your own thing” wave because someone will feel you. I believe it’s okay to be different and stand out. I just want to continue to grow, go harder, and to leave my mark on this world in a special way. Thank you is just never enough for all the genuine support, but I’m a grateful for every single supporter. They are real life blessings!