There are countless number of solo recording artists who started out part of a group. I have written about many of them and featured some in Weekly Music Commentary. Usually, one of the members within the group displays qualities that talent scouts recognize as something special that might help develop the singer into a star. On September 13, 2015 WMC featured former X Factor girl group Fifth Harmony. Along with the other group members, I introduced readers to Camila Cabello. Today, I introduce her again. This time as a solo artist.
Karla Camila Cabello Estrabao was born March 3, 1997 in Cojimar, Eastern Havana, Cuba. She is Mexican-Cuban, with her father hailing from Mexico City. For most of her early life, she and her family moved back and forth between Havana and Mexico City, before relocating to Miami, Florida in the United States at age five. She spent her school years in the Miami area and attended Miami Palmetto High School but withdrew during the 2012-2013 school year to audition for X Factor. As the familiar saying goes, “the rest is history.”
As the X Factor competition started, the members of Fifth Harmony were not yet a group. They all auditioned as solo artists. Camila Cabello auditioned for the X Factor in Greensboro, North Carolina. She chose Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”, however, her audition was not aired because the TV show did not get the rights for the song. After elimination during the “boot camp” portion of the process in Miami, Florida, Cabello was called back to the stage along with Ally Brooke, Normani Kordei, Lauren Jauregui, and Dinah Jane to form the girl group that would later become known as Fifth Harmony.
Fifth Harmony of course went on to enjoy amazing success. Their accolades include four iHeartRadio Music Awards, three MTV Europe Music Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, an American Music Award, a Billboard Women in Music award and six Teen Choice Awards. As of December 2016, in the United States, Fifth Harmony has sold a total of 456,000 albums, seven million digital songs and earned 1.6 billion on-demand streams, according to Nielsen Soundscan.
On December 18, 2016 there came the famous announcement that changed Fifth Harmony forever. The announcement came via Twitter that Camila Cabello was leaving the group. Her departure was very confusing, even for Camila herself. In an interview with E Online, Camila Cabello spoke of the events surrounding her departure. “I was shocked to read the statement the Fifth Harmony account posted without my knowing. The girls were aware of my feelings through the long, much-needed conversations about the future that we had during tour,” Cabello wrote. “Saying that they were just informed through my representatives that I was ‘ leaving the group’ is simply not true. Just like the other girls said in their statement about their plans, I had also planned to continue with my own solo endeavors in the New Year, but I did not intend to end things with Fifth Harmony this way.”
Nevertheless, statements were made and all parties were moving forward. Camila continued, “As sad as it is to see this chapter ending this way, I will continue to root them all on as individuals and as a group. I wish nothing but the best for them, all the success in the world and true happiness,” she said. “Just as I said to them during those conversations, and just like I try to encourage you guys, I want to lead by example when I say to each of you guys to be courageous in the pursuit of what makes your heart pound and what makes you come alive with purpose.”
I must say that I was not surprised to hear one of the members of Fifth Harmony was leaving the group. I watched their rise and listened as they churned out hit music. I realized as with most groups Fifth Harmony could experience a departure. I just didn’t think it would be Camila Cabello. Not now. Perhaps I was not paying close attention. Writing about Cabello’s time on the group, a Billboard journalist noted it is “rather uncommon for someone to stand out in a collective as much as Cabello has over the past years,” also mentioning how her activity on social media and close interaction with her audience helped her potential as a breakout act. Ready or not, Camila would get her second introduction to music fans. This time as a solo artist.
Before her official break from Fifth Harmony, Camila had some good exposure outside the group. In November 2015, Cabello collaborated with Canadian singer Shawn Mendes on a duet titled “I Know What You Did Last Summer”, a song they wrote together. On October 14, 2016, American rapper Machine Gun Kelly released a joint single with Cabello called “Bad Things”, which reached a peak of number four on the US Billboard Hot 100.
Camila wasted no time working on new material following her departure from Fifth Harmony. On January 25, 2017, “Love Incredible”, a collaboration with Norwegian DJ Cashmere Cat, leaked online. The official version of the song was released on February 16, and later featured on Cashmere’s début studio album, 9. Cabello recorded “Hey Ma” with Pitbull and J Balvin for The Fate of the Furious: The Album. The Spanish version of the single and its music video were released on March 10, 2017, and the English version was released on April 6. The singer was also featured on a collaboration with Major Lazer, Travis Scott and Quavo, for the song “Know No Better”.
Her first solo single “Crying in the Club” was released on May 19, 2017, followed by a performance at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards. She joined Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic World Tour as an opening act for several of its dates.
Cabello confirmed her début album, Camila will be released in 2018, declaring, “at this point I have so many songs I’m passionate about,” as new writing and recording sessions were influenced by the success of her single “Havana”. The single has reached number 1 in Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom, as well as number 2 in the United States.
We have now been re-introduced to Camila Cabello with a sample of the album to come. Will she achieve the same kind of success as enjoyed with Fifth Harmony? We’ll watch closely!