May 9, 2015


Ciara: Why I Dedicated My Entire New Album to My Mom, Jackie

Courtesy of the Artist
Courtesy of the Artist

Some musicians might record the one-off track dedicated to their mom, but Ciara based an entire record off hers. Daughter to Jackie Harris and a new mother herself this year, the R&B/pop star decided everything from her sixth studio album's vibe to its subject matter all coincided and related back to no one better but her mama.

And the stars aligned for release week: Not only did the new LP Jackie drop the Monday before Mother's Day, it also hit stores just two days before Mrs. Harris' birthday. 

To celebrate Mother's Day and Ci's first time observing the holiday as a mom, Fuse had a special conversation where we got in-depth with the singer about her record's inspiration, what she's learned as a mother, childhood memories and how the songs on Jackie (yep, even the sexy ones) all relate back to Mom. 

Frank Mullen/WireImage
Frank Mullen/WireImage

You really went all in with the Jackie concept, even titling the record after your mom. What's the ultimate inspiration behind it all?

I was inspired to title album Jackie because now, being a new mom, I know what it's like to be in her shoes and see things from her eyes. It was the most fitting thing to mark this really special time of my life an walking into motherhood and womanhood at the same time. In a sense, I am a mini Jackie. 

I'm also very expressive in a way that I've never been before. And I feel like that is my mom's personality in me. She's a very strong, tough vocal woman too. I really believe you have to say what you want in this world to get it and that's how my mom was. 

From the album's intro track "Jackie (B.M.F.)" you sing "I had to go through the things she went through." What did you both go through?

It's just being able to survive in this world, being a tough woman and figuring out life, you know? To me, life is what you make it; you really determine your destiny. The past, the journey that you travel in life, I believe it really starts and ends with you. I do know what that's like and you have to be really responsible in that way to really try to navigate through life. I know that's how my mom had to do it. 

Even when you have a child, you don't even know what to expect. "What am I supposed to do for my life? What is it that shouldn't do? What is it that I really need to perfect?" You have all these different questions. My mom did tell me it all kind of works itself out, it all kind of falls in place, it'll all come to you; which is so true.

Are there specific tracks that speak to what you both experienced? 

I feel like "I Got You" definitely does that because I know that my mom would do anything to make sure that I have everything. And "I Bet," my single, because she's a no-nonsense kind of woman. She's one of those women who are very tough and she ain't taking no jugs [laughs].

There's also the turn-up jams on Jackie, like "That's How I'm Feelin'," and "Kiss & Tell" is very sensual. Where do those songs fit?

Well, you know a woman has her needs. Those are fun songs, songs that get the party going and keep you dancing. On this album, I really wanted to make sure everyone was having a good time and could feel my energy because I'm in such a happy place. It's important to me that my music makes you feel that happy energy. You got to have songs that are fun! I like to have fun and that's part of my personality. 

It's also those fantasy kinds of songs like "Kiss & Tell." The way that the song just makes you feel—sonically, it just feels so good. You know what you're talking about, you can kind of be in a little fantasy world when you're thinking about a person or that feeling. It's just one of those songs—I think every album should have songs like that—where it is feel-good, it is fun. It may not be the deepest topic, but it just really feels good and sings to you.

Jackie feels light, in the sense that there's no negativity or bitterness here. Is that something you were consciously doing or did it naturally come out?

Well, first, thank you. It was important to share the space of where I am. Mentally, I'm in the happiest place. Having my son has brought me so much joy and has also made me selfless too. You really realize, in life, it's ultimately about loving the ones that love you, making the best of life and enjoying yourself. Having fun and, in my case because I'm so blessed to be able to share music, why not take this opportunity to share some good energy or some good light, you know?

I want to know a little more about Jackie herself. What kind of music did you both listen to growing up?

My mom loves old-school music. Luther Vandross, Gladys Knight, she loved Patti LaBelle, Al GreenMarvin Gaye. There's where I get my music soul from. I'm so glad that she played those songs when I was growing up because it really helped with my creative, mental and music rolodex.

You even worked with Patti on the Mama, I Want to Sing! film. That must have been pretty exciting for Jackie.

Oh yeah. It was pretty cool. It was. I remember when I told my mom I was working with her she was so excited. Even the other day when I was with Whoopi [Goldberg] on set [of The View], my dad was there with me and he got to meet her. It's so awesome when you get to do stuff like that.

Is there one image or memory that comes to mind automatically when you think about your mom?

There's this one time we went to the [1996] Olympics, I think it was in Atlanta. This may sound crazy, but it's a photo of she and I, and she and I have on the same jacket. We don't have many photos, my mom didn't take a lot growing up—that's why I'm one of the most picture-taking moms you'll ever know now. I wanted to wear red lipstick like her and I had red lipstick on in the picture. It's one of those photos that stand out and I think about the moment.

On the other hand, what image do you hope your little guy has of you? Do you think it's formed yet?

Well I think he's still developing now, but I know he knows that his mom loves him so much and I hope that when he gets older that he really, you know, thinks that I'm a rocking mom. I really hope to be a great example to him, how [if] you believe in yourself you can be anything you want to be, and I just hope to be the best mom he could hope for. 

I'm definitely one of those moms that will be a soccer mom and round up all the friends and make them sandwiches and do the barbecue. I'm that kind of mom. I just hope more than anything he has an amazing mom, a mom that really loves him.

What if he thinks you aren't a cool mom, though?!

Well, I hope he doesn't. There's a point in our lives where kids start thinking our parents are cheesy because we start seeing too much of ourselves. I pray that I never, ever have that moment with him [laughs].

And what else is coming up? When are we going to hear that song you performed with R3hab at Coachella?

You should be hearing that song very, very soon, it's called "Everybody Get Up." My tour's still going and my show with NBC called I Can Do That airs May 26th, which I'm super excited about. There are some other amazing opportunities and things that are happening that I can't really give away, but I'm super excited about being part of a major campaign coming soon for something. It feels like we're just getting started.