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Searching for Sounds: The Influences of Camila Cabello

A look at the influences of the well-known pop singer.

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Camila Cabello, mainly known for the smash hit “Havana,” is a 21-year-old singer and musician who was, quite fittingly, born in Havana, Cuba.

Cabello was just a few years old when she moved to the United States. Her parents made the move in an effort to provide Cabello with a better life and more opportunities to build a career.

Cabello was interested in singing early on, and although she was shy, she secretly sang karaoke in her room, sometimes even recording herself. For her fifteenth birthday, Cabello decided to audition for a talent show instead of throwing a party.

This year, Cabello entertained stadium crowds as part of Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour and sold out shows around the world on her own Never Be The Same tour.

Originally, Cabello was discovered on the U.S. version of the show X Factor and ended up in a girl group that consisted of four other members. The group’s name, Fifth Harmony, was created from fan submissions.

After four years with Fifth Harmony, earning several awards and breaking a number of records for their hit music videos, Cabello announced her plan to begin her solo career in December of 2016.

While it wasn’t easy for Cabello to separate from the group, she began a journey of self-discovery that helped her persevere. Her music started coming together piece by piece and in January of 2018, Cabello released her solo debut, Camila. The album includes hit singles “Never Be The Same,” “Havana” and “Consequences.” Cabello won numerous awards including a VMA and Teen Choice award for both her music and videos.

The singer also recently won four American Music Awards this month — the same amount as her tour mate Taylor Swift—  and performed her latest single, “Consequences,” at the show. Cabello wowed audience members with intense vocals accompanied by an orchestra.

After wrapping up the Never Be The Same tour, fans are eager to see what is in store for the 21-year-old singer’s future.

But what music shaped Cabello’s musical vision and approach? Here are five songs that served as inspiration:

1. Skyscraper – Demi Lovato

This is the song that began Cabello’s career.  Cabello uploaded a cover of Lovato’s song “Skyscraper” to YouTube. Although her family didn’t hear her sing until her X Factor audition, this cover remains an important element of her career.

2. Cold Coffee – Ed Sheeran

This song represents Cabello for several reasons. First, she loves Ed Sheeran and has since she first discovered his music. Sheeran influenced her music for multiple years. She remarked that “Cold Coffee” reminds her of when she was younger before things took off as well.

3. Say You Won’t Let Go – James Arthur

Cabello and Machine Gun Kelly covered this smash hit by James Arthur following their collaboration on “Bad Things.” Arthur and Cabello later sang the song together at the BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards.

4. Chocolate – the 1975

Cabello that she loves the 1975 and has for several years. She met lead singer Matty Healy towards the start of her career and saw them perform in concert.

5. What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction

Cabello admits that, Like many other girls, she’s been caught “fan-girling” over One Direction. During her audition for the X Factor, Cabello said, “All I do is sing karaoke and watch One Direction videos.”

Albums

1. + – Ed Sheeran

This album resonated with Cabello when she was beginning her career. Sheeran influenced Cabello musically, and she continues to admire him as a person, friend and musician.

2. Room for Squares – John Mayer

John Mayor is also a source of inspiration for Cabello. The singer loves Mayor’s earlier work in particular. Cabello even covered some of Mayor’s songs such as ‘Daughters’ in a jam session with singer Jake Miller.

3. Red – Taylor Swift

Although they went on tour together and are now close friends, Cabello was also a “fangirl” of Swift’s and followed her career from a young age. It is admirable and inspiring to see how someone Cabello greatly looked up to is now one of her closest friends and musical partners.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Alessandra is a music journalist originally from the New York area, who loves to speak and write about music of all different genres. The world of sound is filled with endless possibilities and experiences that both fans and musicians should recognize.

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