Alessia Cara shows how far she’ll go at debut ‘ACL’ taping

In an energetic “Austin City Limits” debut, 22-year-old pop breakout Alessia Cara delivered a solid set of sing-along pop songs that resonated with a crowd that skewed female and very young.

Scott Newton. Courtesy of KLRU/Austin City Limits

The Toronto artist bounded onto the stage and belted the upbeat breakup song “I’m Yours.” with a trio of backup singers and a band behind her. She wore a boxy men’s suit with a bulky profile that swallowed her petite frame as she performed with confidence, poise and charm, forging an easy rapport with the audience.

She broke into the industry releasing YouTube videos as a teen, and youth empowerment and the struggle to find yourself remain strong themes in her work.  “The cool kids aren’t cool to me. They’re not cooler than we are,” she crooned on “Wild Things.”  She talked about the hours she spent alone in her room nurturing her dreams as an introduction to “4 Pink Walls” and became emotional talking about the way fans around the world have embraced her ode to self-love, “Scars To Your Beautiful.”

The most ecstatic moments in her set were, predictably, the biggest hits. The room exploded when she played “How Far I’ll Go,” from the Disney hit movie “Moana,” and stayed hype as she segued into her first single, the wry wallflower anthem “Here.”

She took the set out with an explosive rendition of her Zedd collaboration “Stay,” complete with smoke effects and confetti streamers. The crowd went wild.

At this year’s Grammy Awards ceremony, Cara took home the trophy for best new artist. Her “ACL” performance proved it was an honor well-earned.

Author: Deborah Sengupta Stith

Deborah Sengupta Stith has been hanging out in dimly lit corners of the city soaking in the music scene for almost 20 years. Twitter: @deborific

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