In fact, most 19-year-old girls would kill to be
invited past the velvet rope, to watch a performance by Prince
from the VIP area at a venue in the heart of Manhattan, sitting
in the entourage of the CEO of Bad Boy Records. But three weeks
ago, when Cassie found herself in that exact situation, she was
just hoping she wouldn't get in trouble with Diddy for being
“He had wanted me to work on this song, and I
was kind of afraid he'd be mad at me for being at the show,” she
says. “But I'd finished the song, and everything was fine.
Whenever I get a call from Bad Boy and they want me to do
something, I imagine him (Diddy) saying it in my head. I don't
know why — it's kind of weird I know.”
Ventura has Sean “P. Diddy” Combs as a boss —
and as anyone who has seen “Making the Band” knows, Mr. Combs is
quite the task master. As you can imagine, running into your
boss at a club when you're supposed to be working — on your
debut record — is one of those uncomfortable scenarios that most
people would shy away from. So it's no surprise that Mr. Combs
is able to get into Cassie's head a little. Good thing she was
raised well in a small town.
Cassie, whose parents and older brother still
live in New London, attended both The Williams School and the
Interdistrict School for Arts And Communication. At both schools
she studied the arts: piano, flute, dance, composition, and
voice. At ISAAC, she and two other students composed an original
score for a half-hour stage production. But when many of her
classmates in The Williams School's 2004 graduating class headed
off to college, Cassie had other plans. She wanted to head to
New York City and pursue a career in modeling. While a student
at Williams, she had already laid the groundwork, taking
modeling jobs in the city as her schedule allowed.
“She was always beautiful, even when she was in
middle school,” says Kate Fioravanti, ISAAC's arts director and
head teacher. “If there was someone who was going to be famous
from ISAAC, I'm glad it's her. She's just a wonderful person and
a phenomenal student, and very talented. I'm so proud of her.
There's just not enough wonderful things I could say about
If you haven't seen Cassie, you obviously
haven't been watching MTV's “Total Request Live.” She's been on
the show, and her video has been in the top five for several
weeks. Her single, “Me and U,” is also blowing up the radio
airwaves and making a mark on iTunes.
Cassie has talent, but she admits wholeheartedly
that she was in the right place at the right time. How else
would you go from struggling to find a landlord who will rent to
a high school graduate to having a car drive you between photo
shoots for GQ and meetings with the biggest music moguls in the
After moving to New York City with her best
friend and struggling to find an affordable place to live,
Cassie met producer Ryan Leslie at a party. The two started
hanging out together, but Cassie didn't tell the successful
producer that she sang.
“I didn't say anything to Ryan at first,” she
says. “But I also knew that I wanted to do more than modeling.
There's nothing wrong with modeling — I have lots of friends who
still do it and that's fine — but I just knew I had something
more in me, and I wanted to explore that.”
When Cassie told her mother that she had started
hanging out with Leslie, her mother requested that Cassie record
a song for her birthday. The song, a duet with Leslie called
“Kiss Me,” which Cassie claims was only meant to be a present,
went really well, and Leslie passed the track on to famed
producer and former Sony chairman Tommy “I discovered Mariah
Carey” Mottola. Mottola offered Cassie a management deal almost
immediately, and signed her to Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment
Group, of which Bad Boy Records is a subsidiary.
Like many artists who've achieved some fame in
the 21st century, Cassie has the Internet to thank in part for
her expressway to success. Myspace.com, along with Leslie's blog
www.NS4life.com(Leslie's music-focused media company is
called NextSelection Lifestyle Group), which both have
up-to-date blogs about Cassie's whirlwind experience, have
helped to generate a healthy amount of buzz for the young singer
even before her record is out. Internet buzz, along with the
help of Bad Boy and some promotional touring in Germany and the
United States, has put Cassie in the kind of position that
rockets artists into the upper echelon of stardom.
It doesn't hurt that Cassie was first a model.
Her beautiful Filipino and African American features put her on
a giant Target billboard in Times Square, and landed her a gig
as the face of rapper Missy Elliot's Adidas “Respect M.E.”
clothing line. And the lyrics to Cassie's single, “Me and U” are
textbook sex-sells stuff (“I'll love you all the way down/ get
you right where you like it/ I promise you'll like it/ just
relax and let me make a move/ it's our secret thing/ we'll keep
it between me and you”).
“It's definitely a risqué song,” Cassie admits,
“but everyone's supportive — I don't even know if my
grandparents really listened to the lyrics. Maybe they did.
That's why we kept the video kind of clean. People keep asking
me who the song is about, but it's not about anybody. I didn't
write it. It was demo'd and I heard the tune, and I thought it
would be wonderful to sing.”
Of course, for a beautiful young woman — or
anybody impressionable for that matter — the modeling and music
businesses aren't exactly the safest industries, and they don't
always draw the most scrupulous people. Cassie says she's
already had to deal with a number of difficult situations, and
anyone's parents would worry about a daughter who isn't old
enough to buy a beer navigating these treacherous waters.
“I was really worried when she first moved to
the city, but the building was secure and she came home a lot,”
says Cassie's mother Regina, who works at Pfizer. “And the
tabloids scare you. When she first got this deal, I wanted to go
and look these people in the eye and let them know that I'm not
far away. Tommy Mottola and P. Diddy were very gracious — they
didn't have to meet with us at all since Cassie's old enough to
sign contracts herself, but they did anyway and I appreciate
Regina says that she gets a weekly update from
one of Mottola's assistants, letting her know exactly what is
planned for her daughter, where she will be on what day and what
her schedule includes. She also calls her daughter every day.
“I need to hear her voice” she says. “I'll
probably keep doing that for a long time, even if she doesn't
For now, Cassie loves being in touch with her
family, and gets to New London whenever she can, visiting
Captain Scott's for seafood and spending time at home. Just as
she did when she left for the big city two years ago, Cassie
knows what she wants.
“I'll always love performing, like that's my
thing,” she says. “I want to be able to do major tours too over
the next five years or something. That's sort of what I did with
modeling, like I did it for five years and then moved on to
something else. Who knows, maybe in five years I'll take a break
from music and try to do some acting, or go back to modeling.
You never know what can happen.”
Cassie's debut full-length CD, which is
tentatively self-titled, is slated for release in August.