Behind every great man is a great woman and, in this case, Cassandra O’Neal of Prince and the New Power Generation, is one of them! There’s a certain standard by which one can be a part of such an American iconic band but her extraordinary skill and beauty as a musician and person has earned her a well-deserved spot in his camp.
Born in Copiague, New York, O’Neal was raised in a home full of faith and music. Her father performed as a Doo-wop singer and later became a pastor while her mother played piano and sang background for different Gospel groups and maintained her role as the first lady in the church. She would listen to her older sister practice piano and without formal training herself, could get on the piano and echo exactly what her sister played. By the age of twelve, O’Neal recognized her gift in music and became very passionate in the development of her craft. She is not your average girl and the world was soon to find out.
O’Neal looked up to female artist like 80’s R&B diva, Patrice Rushen. “She was one of the first females out front doing her thing!” She also admired Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark of the Gospel group The Clark Sisters, “She was playing the piano like a man! I didn’t even know it was a woman!” Impressed by the females making big waves in music, she was ready to take her own career to the next level. At sixteen, she was taken very seriously as a contender in the music arena and started playing professionally. To pursue her dream, she moved to Los Angeles, CA to enhance her visibility and stabilize her reputation in the game. With the influences of her music idols and skill set, she was becoming a phenomenal and fluid musician. With Gospel music roots, classic piano training, a knack for Jazz and Urban elements, she is a force to be reckoned with! O’Neal has played for many established artists in the industry like Macy Gray, Yolanda Adams and Pink and has recorded with countless artists and is featured on special projects in TV and film. Her level of talent and expertise separate her from being just a musician to being a composer, producer and musical consultant.
In 2009, O’Neal joined Prince and the New Power Generation, one of the most gifted and talented teams in the industry! Prince has always kept the tradition of very skilled female musicians that were HOT! Don’t get it twisted; to be in his camp, you have to be better than the best and look better then prettiest and O’Neal fits the criteria to a tee! Her experience with NPG has been “really cool! We’re like a family and they’re the most cohesive group I’ve ever played with.”
O’Neal is inspired by her parents and her faith in God and is not afraid to acknowledge the graces that blessed her with the gift of music. Although she is well-respected, it’s not uncommon to see her jamming with a church band or free-styling at a local live music spot. “All is right in the world when my fingers touch the keys and I’m playing.” Currently, she is working on an album and is excited to share a very personal side to her music. “It’s real and accessible to the listener,” she says. “It’s pure.”
O’Neal should be an example to all young girls who want to rock out! “Females, you can be a musician and still be a lady! Despite the circumstances, always be yourself.” Anyone can rock a stage, but few can kill a performance, and even fewer can look beautiful doing it! That’s how you rock sexy and Cassandra O’Neal got that on lock! That’s WhatItDo!
Article Written by: RAEN
*photos courtesy of QLEPR
*YouTube video courtesy of lynjazz100