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Billboard Magazine

   Ciara se objevila v aktuálním čísle magazinu Billiboard. Kompletní článek avšak v angličtině si můžete přečíst níž. Dá se říct, že jsem ho už kompletně po kouscích přeložil v předešlých příspěvcích.

It's a scalding summer day in Los Angeles as some of the music industry's most distinguished urban artists made their way to the Shrine Auditorium for the 2008 BET Awards. This year's bill featured all the heavy-hitters: Usher, Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys and T-Pain assisted by DJ Khaled, Ludacris and Rick Ross.

But what drove the audience wild was Chris Brown's set with Ciara. For a performance of Brown's "Take You Down," she ditched her traditional oversized sweat pants and bedazzled sports bra in favor of a black, skin-tight dominatrix-style cat-suit, thigh-high black stiletto boots and a matching black wig. The choreography included straddling Brown mid-air as he laid on the stage floor, scaling her hands up the right side of his body and a dance trick in which Ciara slithered her head down his back, and rested it on his right calf while bending her lean frame backwards. The performance ended with Brown and Ciara seductively staring at each other, as the crowd gave them a standing ovation.

The message couldn't be more clear: Ciara isn't the teen princess of Crunk & B any more. Now 23 and with two platinum records under her belt, she is reinventing her career with a bold new creative and business plan that includes "Fantasy Ride," a conceptual album due in the fourth quarter via LaFace/Zomba, and an intensified focus on branding with a modeling contract and movie roles.

"The key to any success is to be creative and to take chances," her recently appointed manager Johnny Wright says. "This is how artists stay on top: by challenging themselves and increasing their fan base, and by bringing something unexpected to you." For "Fantasy Ride," Ciara is pushing the envelope creatively by having the set feature three distinct musical styles. As of now, the three sounds will tentatively be called "Groove City," full of sensual songs; "Crunk Town," with Atlanta-based crunk music similar to her introductory single, "Goodies"; and "Kingdom of Dance," with uptempo, house-leaning, freestyle-tinged cuts.

"There are three elements of her music in this record and to me that's growth," Wright says. "That could never be a bad thing. She's not stepping away from her original fans; instead, she's exploring new opportunities on this record."

Producers include Danja Handz, Jasper Cameron, L.O.S. and Tricky Stewart, who is co-executive producing the album alongside Ciara. Akon, Lil Jon, the-Dream and Ludacris make guest appearances, while Ne-Yo, T-Pain and Frankie Storm (from Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music") are all contributing writers.
"It will still definitely be three different sounds in one package," Ciara says. "My mission is to take fans on a musical journey to three different sounds that represent me so that they get a chance to see the sides of me they still haven't seen."

"High Price," featuring Ludacris, and the uptempo dance song "Work" are both in contention for debut single. ("High Price" has already been leaked online. "My feelings were so hurt, because I wanted to present that track to the fans the right way," Ciara says.) Other tracks on the set include the feminist track "Independent Woman," the go-go-esque "Echo," the bass-heavy "When I," the energetic "I'm On," the melodic "Lover's Thing" and the Ne-Yo-assisted "Super Natural." "The music flows together. It's about the journey and having fun through music. I can give you a basic album in a 12-song layout, but I wanted to be more creative," Ciara says.

The format presents challenges and opportunities alike for marketing, says Lisa Cambridge, VP of marketing at Zomba Label Group.

"The dance aspect of this album has made international want to get their hands on it, especially the U.K.," Cambridge says. "She has [had] some success overseas, but this is her real breakthrough. We're really hoping to set up opportunities to spend time in the territories and combine it with touring; this way, she can be more in command of her time." However, Cambridge says because Ciara is somewhat of a "new artist" overseas, she will most likely start by doing all-day promotional stops instead of a formal tour.

As far as online promotions, there will be limited-edition digital versions of the three elements on the album made available, Cambridge says.

In addition, she says Ciara will make appearances on urban TV music shows like BET's "106 & Park," as well as the traditional stops on MTV's "TRL," daytime talk shows and late-night TV.

And amid all the promotion for the album, Ciara is planning how to make a bigger impact in the entertainment scene. She recently inked a deal with Wilhelmina Models, which currently represents such acts as Fergie, Natasha Bedingfield and the Veronicas.

Wilhelmina president Sean Patterson was one of the first to notice Ciara's recent womanish air and decided to jump onboard. "We've been talking for years, but definitely recently saw the opportunity to market her, create endorsement deals and image-enhancing deals that would be good for her brand," Patterson says. "She is the complete package. She is model made, with perfect size, perfect height [Ciara is 5 feet, 7 inches tall], a beautiful body and face. Take the music and dancing away, and she's still gorgeous. It's a dream pairing for us as an agency."

Via the partnership, Ciara is aiming to land endorsement deals with fashion designers, similar to the campaign she spearheaded for Rocawear last year, and beauty brands. "We'll work with her to identify those brands and those companies she feels are in sync with her image, expose her to [fashion] labels she isn't necessarily aware of and make choices that best fit her," Patterson says. "We want to help her evolve while maintaining identity and individuality."

And the label fully supports these efforts, with Patterson and Cambridge saying that they are targeting Victoria's Secret to pair up with Ciara. It's a perfect fit, Cambridge says, since it "plays with her personality and her coming of age. It's tasteful, sexy and beautiful, just like her."

Cambridge also wants Ciara to partner with an apparel, health or beauty brand that can help accentuate her commitment to athleticism. "I work out six days during the week and have five or six meals during the day that consist of meats, veggies and protein shakes. On the seventh day I have a little fun," Ciara says.

Besides modeling, Ciara is also expanding her acting career. She filmed her first starring role in the Jeff Clanagan-produced "Mama, I Want to Sing" a movie that will be released straight to DVD in early 2009. (This is Ciara's second acting role; she made her debut in the 2006 MTV Films production "All You've Got," which starred Adrienne Bailon and Efren Ramirez.)

In "Sing," inspired by the off-Broadway play of the same name, Ciara plays the role of Amara, a young R&B pop singer who has contradicting views from those of her evangelist mother. The film also stars Lynn Whitfield and Billy Zane.

The promotional campaign for the set will commence in September, to coincide with the release of the album, Clanagan says. "Ciara came up because we wanted a contemporary adaptation of the film that would appeal to those who saw the original version but capture a younger demographic as well. Ciara is ideal for that. She appeals to the 16-24 olds, as well as a mature fan base."

This expansion of Ciara's career comes at the same time as the singer made the decision to part with long-time manager Phillana Williams and mentor Jazze Pha earlier this summer. Pha helped launch Ciara's career in 2004 and worked closely on her previous albums -- 2004's "Goodies," which has sold 2.7 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and 2006's "Evolution," which has moved 1.3 million copies -- as a producer. (Ciara wouldn't comment on the reasons behind the sudden change of heart. Pha declined to comment as well.)

"There was a mutual friend that stayed in contact with her and called me out of the blue to tell me Ciara wanted to discuss the position with me," says Wright, who also represents Justin Timberlake, the Jonas Brothers and Janet Jackson. "I got on the phone with her and she told me she wanted to get someone to join her team for this album . . . Ciara is not one-dimensional. She is a brand in essence, she's multitalented. She's a visionary who is learning to take the platform she has and use it for other things."

Now that Ciara feels more secure in her skin, she's giving the opportunity for others to shine as well, recently appearing on up-and-coming singer Tiffany Evans' single "Promise Ring." "I saw her perform and immediately thought she was special. So, the opportunity came up for me to start her off and introduce her to the world. We did the video together and I brought her on tour with me," Ciara says.

Additionally, Ciara is holding a second round of auditions via her MySpace page and official Web site to find dancers for her next tour. This is part of a broader mobile/Internet campaign planned by Zomba, Cambridge says, as they are planning to "aggressively partner with mobile" outlets, offering exclusive content to different providers, as well as executing various online campaigns and contests.

And while all these changes would overwhelm some artists, Ciara is taking them in stride.

"What matters is that I know what I know and no one can change the way I feel," she says. "You have to just be happy with yourself, have an understanding of things around you and grow with that."
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