Singer/Songwriter Cassandra Lucas who was one-half of the R&B duo Changing Faces
known for hits such as “Stroke You Up”, “G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T.”, “Foolin’ Around” and “That Other Woman” is back and spreading her wings as a solo artist offering listeners new music
with the inspirational/social injustice anthem “Give Love a Chance”, an infectious party anthem “Music & A Beat” and much more...
TERRANCE: For those who don’t know can you briefly share how you got involved as a member of Changing Faces?
CASSANDRA LUCAS: We both met in La Guardia High School of Performing Arts. It is quote, unquote, the same school for the movie. We would do little gigs on the side and go on auditions for background singing and then we landed a gig with the singer Sybil and from there we decided to create a group after going on the road and seeing that side of it. It ended up just being two of us and it was a little bit of a challenge because you had En Vogue, TLC and all of these girl groups and with two girls a lot of times people would say that’s not going to work because they want to emulate what’s out there already and not touch anything new or different. A friend turned manager Charnise Carter set up for us to meet with Kenny Smoove who was the President of Spoiled Rotten and he was doing a joint venture with Big Beat/Atlantic and we sang. Then we got a call a couple days later that they wanted to work with us and we were ecstatic and the rest is history. And just to clarify this part, a lot of people thought we were R. Kelly’s group. What happened was when we did get the deal, Craig Kallman and Kenny Smoove were asking who did we want to work with and at that time Public Announcement were really hot and they were like, oh that’s R. Kelly he does the writing and producing for that group. We were like we want to work with him and they were like well you guys aren’t out yet so I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible. We were like just send our demo and if he say no he say no and if he say yes then he say yes. And with “Stroke You Up” he said yes and it went from there thank God.
TERRANCE: Did you all think the debut single “Stroke You Up” would blow up the way it did because that’s not always the case for a new artist.
CASSANDRA LUCAS: Right. We were super shocked. I was a little girl from East Harlem and Charisse was from South Bronx. A lot of stuff from back then is still a blur because we were just so excited to be doing what we were doing. We weren’t even paying attention to the magnitude of what could happen and when we heard that song on the radio, we were like the Five Heartbeats. I don’t think we ever kind of grasp on how big it was. I think one time what made me think about it was when we went in for a meeting with the record label and Craig Kallman was like, you know who called the office? And we were like who? He was like Prince. And I was like Prince? Why did Prince call the office? Because he wanted to find out who was this Changing Faces (laughs). We were all on the charts I guess to get this greatest gainer or whatever. We went from some crazy number like #89 and from there we jumped from #10 to #3. It was the greatest gainer for that week and we didn’t have the internet so you couldn’t put a face to who these people are so all Prince was looking at is who the heck is Changing Faces? That’s when the light bulb went off like what you did was kind of special because if you have Prince calling your label trying to find out who the hell you are then that’s awesome. Very awesome.
TERRANCE: After the third album Visit Me in 2000 the duo fell off the radar. Can you explain what happened?
CASSANDRA LUCAS: I think we were then where we are now. Creatively we were going in two different directions and I think the battle with the record label also kind of got in the way because despite all the great stuff I was just talking about, there were a lot of promises being made that the record label didn’t keep on their end and so after a while the business get in the way and it’s frustrating and so we’re like can we just go our separate ways in terms of the label? Once that happened I think we just needed to take time out and so that’s what happened in 2000. We did get back together in 2011 and tried to do this thing again.
TERRANCE: I remember “Hate Love” was supposed to be the comeback song, right?
CASSANDRA LUCAS: Yeah, “Hate Love” and from there we went to no love. A block I should say, we hit another wall and I just didn’t want anymore time for myself to pass by and not be able to use this gift God gave me so that’s why I’m here today and I just want to keep this thing going, R&B going and we can’t let it fade out like Disco because it’s not. The basis of 80% of music we listen to is rooted from R&B so why are we shutting R&B down? From Hip Hop to Country, don’t get me started (laughs).
TERRANCE: Stephanie Mills made the statement recently about people wanting R&B but not from us.
CASSANDRA LUCAS: Amen to that. I agree with her but I feel like it’s being presented as Pop does that make sense? And it’s not Pop. Let’s call it what it is. It’s R&B and even as Hip Hop emerged, R&B got morphed into it so now you’re looking at the Billboard charts and it’s not R&B. It’s Hip Hop and R&B. It’s like everything has merged and pushed into R&B so now the charts should say Pop because at the end of the day that what’s going on and again everything is rooted from R&B music but you don’t want to give R&B the acknowledgement or platform? It’s insane. I just pray that other artists like myself who been on the sideline, just come on out and hit em with it because if you keep at it they will eventually listen.
TERRANCE: So bring me to date with what’s been going on and what’s to come.
CASSANDRA LUCAS: What’s going on is new music. A revival so to speak. I’ve been writing over the years and sometimes you have to step away from the business for a minute just to kind of get to know you or who you’ve evolved to because you’re never the same. You’re always changing, you know? Adding little things or taking things away and so this thing called life kind of got in the way, but that also afford you the time to get to re-introduce yourself to yourself, if that make sense. Then I just got to where I fell back in love with this music and I never fell out of love with it just the business side of it and so the music takes a hit because of it, so you put it on the backburner and now I’m back in love with it and I’m just super excited and I have a couple singles out now. I’m loving the energy I’m getting from them. I just feel this is the time and the lane is open for good music, to do what you can and to push as hard as you can for people to hear it because I think they need it.
TERRANCE: One of those singles is “Give Love a Chance”. Talk about the inspiration to create that song.
CASSANDRA LUCAS: Well, oddly enough when I decided to start a new project I had the hook for that song done already. But while working on the project, you know you get up everyday and say your prayers and then you’re looking for the remote or you’re going through your feed because you’re kind of living on the edge now because of the new President. Everyday I’m thinking if I’m feeling like this and I’ve never been that type of political person and so caught up on that because I know the man upstairs is God so I really don’t put my life in nobody else’s hands but when you put one bad apple in and it’s just shaking up everybody. If I feel like this then I know there are a million other people who feel this exact way and that inspired me to finish that song because remember I only had the hook and by the time I finished that’s what it was. I was like, you know what? This needs to come out now and then the Hurricanes were happening and it was just so much and I was like, well how can I give back? And “Give Love a Chance” was a great opportunity to lend my voice to help in any way I can. I wanted the proceeds and sales from that song to go to directrelief.org to help the victims of the hurricane so that’s how that came about.
TERRANCE: What has that transition been like coming into your own as a solo artist?
CASSANDRA LUCAS: It’s a different ride and I guess a little scary because you’re so used to doing it one way and now you have to do it another way (laughs), but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong or right. Actually I laugh at myself because it’s Changing Faces now literally. I gotta do me at this particular moment and like you said before the interview it’s just about people being open, you know? You weren’t born in a group so just be open to the fact that I can do this and I can do that so take a listen and you just might like what you hear.
TERRANCE: As an artist who came into the music industry pre-social media how is it different now?
CASSANDRA LUCAS: I think we’re relying too much on the internet even now like myself. I’m doing my music independently with my husband and a partner and so it’s harder because you’re independent and when you go to market your album everything has to be through the computer. That’s just the world we’re in and I guess we just have to move along with it but I just don’t think it should be the only source that we rely on.
TERRANCE: Luckily I was old enough to purchase the second Changing Faces album All Day, All Night and it was a movement and an event to go to the store and actually buy CD’s.
CASSANDRA LUCAS: Right. Now you said that. You said you were 31 so you’re in the age of the movement, even though Apple Music is this technology craziness. If you go to the store you’ll see lines around the corner when a new product is out if it’s something people want. Why can’t we have that for music? Why is it now, oh I don’t pay for music. Really? It’s an insult because that’s the same music used when customers come into your store or you use it when you’re working to get you through the day or to help you when you’re feeling sad to make you feel good, but you don’t pay for it? I think that’s a slap in the face. It’s underappreciated. The people out there that created that, that’s their work and life and for you to say you don’t pay for it, that suck.
TERRANCE: What are your thoughts on the state of R&B music today?
CASSANDRA LUCAS: Where is it? Like you said, it’s out there but we just can’t find it. It’s too many talented people who are just sitting on the sideline because what they do no one hears, so we gotta figure out a way. And thanks to people like you who do push it to the forefront and acknowledging these people. There’s way too many people on the sideline and that’s what makes me sad and it pushes me in that studio everyday and if it takes me putting out 100 songs til they hear it, I’m gonna do it. There’s a lane for everybody. When you think back, you think back to when rap music came out, your parents were like, what’s this junk? I understand that and maybe that’s where we are now in terms of music. But we could also do something for our generation that’s new. There’s an audience for the husband and wife who want to go to concerts or date nights and see their artist as well. Why are we stagnating good talent? And not making it available to people because if it’s available they would purchase it or buy tickets. So that’s why people continue to go back to old music because that’s all they have.
Follow Cassandra Lucas:
Facebook & Instagram @IamCassandraLucas