Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey, Madonna and Britney were once unknown, too.
Cara Salimando says she’s been inspired by the confessional songwriting of Fiona Apple ever since she was in grade school, but this 18-year-old singer-songwriter has her own hell to raise. With an unaffected but knowing voice, Salimando sings of night skies and broken hearts, and—lest anyone think she’s one of those dime-a-dozen coffeehouse singers covering songs on YouTube—know that the teenage artist caught the eye of the pop masterminds behind Rihanna.
Here’s what you need to know about Cara:
HOMETOWN: Little Silver, New Jersey
MUSICAL BACKGROUND: The teen singer-songwriter has been playing piano since she was seven years old. “Taking lessons was my own idea,” says Cara. “I hadn’t had a very pleasant experience with the flute or violin, but I wanted to learn an instrument desperately.” Now Cara is rarely seen without her 88 keys.
HER BIG BREAK: Like Lily Allen and Justin Bieber before her, Cara can cite social networking sites like MySpace and YouTube as the main way she first started garnering attention. “An A&R had heard my music on MySpace and came to a local show I was playing at a taco bar,” Cara tells us. “After the show, he came up to me and told my parents and I that he was confident he could put me in contact with people who would be interested in signing me. Needless to say, it seemed pretty unbelievable and my parents and I were skeptical.” Four months later, Cara was signed to SRP/Universal Motown, working with the Svengalis behind Rihanna.
HER BIGGER BREAK: She just completed a tour of the Midwest, opening for Matt Kearney and Ingrid Michaelson (whom she’s often been compared). She’s on the impressive lineup for both Bamboozle and Lilith Fair this summer as well.[wpaudio url="http://idolator.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/1-Dust.mp3" text="Cara Salimando - Dust" dl="0"]
LISTEN UP: Cara is currently promoting her first single, “Dust,” a melancholy pop ballad that reveals a knowing perspective on relationships, just one example of her precocious songwriting talent.
BEING A TEEN SENSATION: Cara’s weekends are often filled with shows and meetings, so there isn’t much time to indulge in the typical teenage experience of partying and hanging with friends. But there are no regrets—”Doing what I love to do, that’s fun,” Cara tells us. “I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I’m just having a different experience.”
Cara Salimando – “Cigarette Smoke” Live at NYC’s The Bitter End
TO TWEET OR NOT TO TWEET: Cara is a regular on Twitter, although considering how young she is, adapting to social networking sites wasn’t too difficult. “Being a part of the Internet generation, I feel like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace are just things that I would kind of pick up on anyway even if I didn’t have to utilize them as marketing tools.” And if you tweet @carasalimando, don’t be surprised if you hear from her! “I love interacting with people who like my music. There’s no pressure, I just think it’s nice to talk to people!”
WHAT SHE’S LISTENING TO: Diane Birch and Vampire Weekend. “I’d say that out of the younger bands out there today, they’re my favorites.”
OUR VERDICT: With Fiona Apple dormant from the music scene for the moment, the timing is right for an artist like Cara, who can evoke vulnerability and empowerment at the same time. And unlike certain other teen stars who’ve hit it big with diary-entry pop hits, Cara can nail her songs live. In time, we can expect to see Cara star in her own female-empowering comic book.