The exotic beat of Cassie

THE WORLD knows her as Cassie. But what few people realize is that the exotic-looking singer—whose smash debut single, Me & U was one of the biggest R 'n' B hits of 2006, reaching number three on the Billboard Hot 100, number four on the Billboard Pop 100...

By Aprylle Liabres (Contributor)

Published: Mon 16 Apr 2007, 10:41 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 11:46 PM

cassieand number one on Billboard's Hot R 'n' B/Hip-Hop Songs chart—traces her roots (well, at least part of them) to the Philippines.

Cassie, whose real name is Cassandra Ventura, was born and raised in New London, Connecticut. Her father is Filipino, while her mother is part African-American, West Indian and Mexican. Interestingly, a entry on her lists her ancestry as being “Fil-American West Mexican”.

Cassie and her brother grew up with music. Her father plays the trumpet, her mom is a pianist, and it was with their encouragement that Cassie started singing. But her parents never forced her into it. “My parents’ philosophy is do what makes you happy, pursue what you love. They never pushed me, but my mom would always ask, is this what you want to do? Are you happy? Does this work satisfy you? The answer was always yes,” she says.

She took the traditional route, trying out for roles in school plays and using her striking looks as a launching pad to a modeling career. Cassie started modeling at 14, appearing in ads for well-known clothing brands like Adidas and Abercrombie & Fitch. After graduating from high school, Cassie moved to New York City where she met up-and-coming producer Ryan Leslie, who has worked with Britney Spears and Beyonce. The two became fast friends, and with Ryan’s encouragement, Cassie started really thinking about making music her main focus.

In January 2005, things took an interesting turn when Cassie’s mother asked if her daughter would record a song as a birthday gift. Cassie and Ryan came up with “Kiss Me,” which found its way to the ears of Tommy Mottola. A series of other breaks led to a recording contract with Sean “Diddy” Combs who signed her to his Bad Boy roster. Early this year, Cassie released her second album.

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