With a style that perfectly bridges hip-hop's boisterous side to R&B's organic fluidity, Ciara instantly became, and remains, the First Lady of Crunk&B. Ciara Princess Harris, born in 1985 in Austin, Texas, was raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and given her nickname by none other than local Dirty South deity Lil Jon. The tastemaking producer laced her 2004 debut single, “Goodies,” with elastic 808s and sparse, synthesized instrumentation, but it was the singer’s hushed coo and reedy falsetto that rang out. The subsequent Goodies album, and coolly booming songs like “One, Two Step” saw Ciara pushing the smooth sounds shaped by superstars like Usher to new energetic heights. Meanwhile, her collaborations cemented her status as a go-to for all things vibrant—she even manages to up the electricity on a Missy Elliott single, “Lose Control,” with her swaggering half-rapped, half-sung cameo. As seen throughout her career, it’s as if Ciara can flip a switch between vivacious and velvety vocals. With her second album, 2006’s Ciara: The Evolution, she used that gift to explore her sensuality through ballads like the Prince-inspired “Promise.” In 2013, she continued in that vein with “Body Party,” a lavish Future-assisted love song that connected past to present by interpolating Ghost Town DJs’ “My Boo.” As R&B has evolved, so too has Ciara. Instead of sticking to a script, she’s dabbled freely in varied sounds, incorporating Tiwa Savage-inspired Afrobeats in “Freak Me,” and dynamic footwork-style production into “Level Up,” both singles from 2019’s Beauty Marks. Each song feels like a revolutionized take on the unique sonic mashup that Ciara helped launch, and plays like an ode to her continued growth.
BORNOctober 25, 1985