Born and raised in New London, Connecticut, Cassie and her brother grew up with music. Her father plays the trumpet, mom is a pianist, and with their encouragement Cassie started singing (her first idol? Mariah Carey) and taking dance classes. "My parents' philosophy is do what makes you happy, pursue what you love," says Cassie. By fifth grade, it was plain that Cassie's happiness came from performing on stage. Her theatrical debut wasn't auspicious. She was a dwarf ("I can't remember which one!" she giggles) in her private school's production of "Snow White." "Being on stage I got that rush. I just loved it."
The love continued into middle school, when she joined a program that allowed students to act and compose their own musicals. By seventh grade, Cassie was dancing, acting, singing, composing, and playing the piano. At 14 she added to an impressive resume when she began modeling. Although shorter than the average model, Cassie's striking looks attracted attention and soon she was represented by the famed Wilhelmina Agency. At 15, she spent the summer in NYC's Hell's Kitchen to focus on the competitive fashion world. All of this activity, combined with high school, could have been daunting, but Cassie rose to the challenge. As always, her parents were firmly in her corner. "They never pushed me, but my mom would always ask me, is this what you want to do? Are you happy? Does this work satisfy you?" The answer was yes. Cassie's modeling career picked up steam and she appeared in campaigns for Delia's, Adidas, and A&F, among others. Yet something was missing. "The work was great, but it sometimes wasn't creative enough for me. So I made friends with photographers and stylists and we'd try to think of some more artistic side projects." An artistic opportunity came when Cassie hit 16.
Through an industry friend she was introduced to prolific producer Rockwilder (Method Man, Redman, Pink). With her folks in tow, Cassie went to the producer's studio. "We had a great talk. It was my first taste of the music industry and although nothing came of, it gave me inspiration. Soon after that I started taking voice lessons because I knew that singing was something that was important to me." After graduating from high school, Cassie moved to NYC in 2004 and through mutual friends met up-and-coming producer Ryan Leslie. Cassie thought that Ryan seemed like a "cool guy" and the two exchanged numbers. "I knew he was a producer, but didn't think much about it. He just seemed nice." A few weeks later, Ryan asked her to attend Diddy's birthday party. Since Cassie was already planning on going she and Ryan made plans to meet up at the soir e. The two became fast friends, and with Ryan's encouragement Cassie started really thinking about making music her main focus. "My mom was a bit worried, but I knew Ryan was a good person. The thing was that for months people had told me that I had an artist's vibe, so I guess meeting Ryan was just meant to be."
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 turned out to be more than just a nice present from a child to her mom. Soon after finishing the song, Cassie went to the Casablanca Records office to meet Ryan. He, in turn was sitting down with the label's executives, including Tommy Mottola. The star maker spied Cassie in the waiting area and asked who she was. Unbeknownst to Cassie, Ryan had just played Mottola several tracks. Impressed, Mottola urged the team to get back into the studio. A few weeks later, Ryan and Cassie returned with a makeshift demo and Mottola signed her to a management deal. Soon after, Cassie also signed on the dotted line with Ryan's production company, NextSelection. That same year, Ryan and Cassie set up their MySpace site. It kicked off a label bidding frenzy as well as a serious buzz amongst fans. Thanks to a relationship that both Ryan and Mottola had with Diddy, Cassie signed with Bad Boy in March 2006. Working exclusively with Ryan, who brings a fresh, unique approach to the music, Cassie describes her sound as "mellow, chill, and easy to relate to." Says this down to earth beauty, "This album represents what I've always wanted to do. I can't wait for everyone to hear it."
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