The unchanging face – and voice – of singer/ songwriter Cassandra Lucas has returned to the music scene gifting listeners with a new R&B Top 20 single, titled, “Name On It,” and paving the way for her solo debut CD, tentatively titled, Long Way Home.
During the mid-1990s through the early 2000s, Cassandra and her duet partner Charisse Rose lit up the charts as the Platinum selling R&B duo Changing Faces. The pair brought us such hits as “Stroke You Up” and “G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T” (both featuring R. Kelly), “Foolin’ Around”; while their selftitled Big Beat/Atlantic Records debut, hit No. 1 on the Billboard R&B Charts.
Outside of Changing Faces, Lucas has demonstrated her songwriting skills, by cowriting and doing background vocals/vocal arrangements for Donnell Jones on “Special Girl” and “Apple Pie,” for the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, on “Friends,” and for Jody Watley’s “Off The Hook,” which went No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Charts.
Music Industry Quarterly recently caught up with Cassandra, who now resides in Las Vegas. She was eager to talk about her new music, life as a solo artist, and operating as an independent.
First off, people want to know where you have been?
Living life like we all have to do. You step away for a minute so that you can live your life and see where your heart directs you. I had to step away. The music industry part can sometimes get the best of you. In order to keep you from going crazy, and losing yourself, sometimes you have to step away from the situation and view things from a different angle.
What prompted you to come back?
What drew me back was that my love for music would never die. I just sat for a while. I did real estate and some other things, but the second I got back into the studio, it was like turning on a faucet. The creativity – like water – was starting to overflow. You have to go where your heart is. That’s what I tell anyone aspiring to be in the music business. If you don’t really love it, then you really shouldn’t waste your time. You can’t do it just for the money or for the fans. It’s gotta be for the love of it.
Have you considered a reunion with Charisse?
We tried that back in 2010, doing shows and all. We were overseas in places like Japan and Germany. Then we began to collaborate on a new project. We kind of bumped heads, creatively, and you know that’s fine. People aren’t always going to be on the same page. We both sing, and can do individual projects. One never knows what the future holds. God might bring us back around together. But for right now, I’m doing this solo venture.
Talk about CRC Musik
It’s my own independent company, with my husband Noel “Chris” Absolam, and our business partner Richard Smith. We’ve worked together for years and decided to form a company; everything funnels from there.
Talk about the single “Name On It.” There’s certainly something familiar and unforced about it.
When I first heard “Name On It” played back, I couldn’t even remember how the song came about. It was like the music just spoke to me. I was in the studio with a couple of my writing partners and we were all vibing. It just felt familiar. I had the same reaction as you. It’s not like you’re pushing it on anybody, it wasn’t totally different, but it’s both 2018 and ‘90s. And that’s what I love about it.
You’ve written quite a few songs on the forthcoming album. Are there any collaborations?
There are no features, I wanted to really present just Cassandra Lucas, and if there are features then it’s from new and upcoming artists that I like. I don’t think people realize that as Changing Faces we wrote the majority of our album. I wanted to make a point to [write] on every single song from my project. The album is incredible. I’m super excited about it. We at CRC Musik did all of the production, and everything together. I think I’ve locked in a title. It’s going to called Long Way Home. I’m just saying that it took me a long time to get here but I’m back where my heart is, and that’s music.
What’s your spin on the music biz today?
It’s a whole other animal than from the music business I entered. I’m actually learning as we speak. You have to learn to market yourself differently. The internet, social media, I’m reluctant about it, but I still have to embrace it. I have to master it. That’s how we speak to our fans now, which is different than when I came out. I kind of feel the internet is making everything more about a popularity contest, and less about the music; but anyway I can get the word out to my fans about my music.
What did R. Kelly mean to your career, and do you remain in contact?
I haven’t spoken to him in years. In terms of Changing Faces’ career, he meant so much to our success. People actually thought we were an R. Kelly group, which we weren’t. We put a list together of producers and writers whose music we liked at the time, and R. Kelly happened to be one of the people. He was part of Public Announcement and they were hot; everyone wanted to use R. Kelly to write or produce their stuff. We were these girls from the Bronx and East Harlem, and the label was unsure R. Kelly would even work with us, but we sent in our demo to see what would happen. He called up Craig Kallman at Big Beat Records, saying he wanted to work with us, and that’s how we got the hits “Stroke You Up,” and “G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T” Our collaborations with him worked wonderfully. We owe a lot to R. Kelly for that, and we’re just thankful.
Outside of your own music, what are you currently listening to?
Of course, I have my Marvin’s and Stevie’s on my playlist, but I like SZA, Ne-Yo and Drake also. There’s a lot of good stuff out there today, and with streaming, the music is at your fingertips.
Interview Conducted by David A. Mitchell