Alessia Cara is among a growing clan of very young artists with some important matters on her mind, the kind that have nothing to do with whether her song is a hit. The singer-songwriter who had her big breakout with “Here” last year was welcomed to the fourth hour of “Today” with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on Nov. 21, joined by chef, Bobby Flay, and could never have imagined how fitting her performance would be after an emotional Sunday in music.
Describing her song “Scars To Your Beautiful” from her new album, “Know-It-All,” Cara openly admits “I did it for women, but I think anybody can relate to it. Basically it’s about the expectations and pressures put on women, put on people these days.” Referencing the often brutal anonymity and stress conveyed by social media, the 20-year-old singer-songwriter known for head wear and words that sink into the head and the heart was adamant that “it’s wrong to brainwash us like that,” and that same conviction was echoed in the heartfelt acceptance words from Selena Gomez at the American Music Awards, and similar reflections on self-growth from Bruno Mars in a pre-awards “60 Minutes” piece. Real success never truly happens unless a heart finds healing first.
The lyric from Alessia Cara about the light that “shines deeper than the eyes can find it” could have been torn from the diary of Selena Gomez, who affirmed to fans, “I don’t want to see your bodies on Instagram, I want to see what’s in here,” motioning to her heart. Her confession of being “absolutely broken inside” before taking a three-month break to heal some wounds beyond just getting back on stage, became a brave outstretched hand to her fans, thanking them for being “so damn loyal” and reminding them, too, of hope. “If you are broken, you don’t have to stay broken,” Selena closed in taking Favorite Pop/Rock Singer recognition. Besides dealing with anxiety and depression, Selena Gomez has faced an additional battle with the autoimmune disease, Lupus.
Bruno Mars does not have a dialogue on disease to offer, but he certainly revealed more of his or his personal search that exemplifies the lyric from Alessia Cara to find “the hope that’s for you in the dark.” The dynamic Bruno took correspondent, Lara Logan to the Honolulu bird sanctuary where he and his brothers made a life while their father worked there. They turned a one-room building into their home, and walked long distances to locate indoor plumbing. Rather than despair, Bruno describes those times as “the best” because of the bond they shared, and the resolve that seems unquenchable, still with him today. “If we had no electricity, it was like ‘OK, that’s the problem for today. We’ll be better tomorrow.’” The fashion-icon front man also playfully teases that he now takes his style from his Puerto Rican lounge entertainer dad, nicknamed “patent leather Pete,” with a large degree of pride. He notes that it’s all part of the “attention to detail in the look, the music, the performance.”
Alessia Cara knows her subject far beyond just the perspective 20-something girls. It can take a lifetime to appreciate that scars verify survival, and everyone, including mega-selling stars, takes his and her own time in learning that “you’re beautiful just the way you are.”