Alessia Cara has been a fast-moving figure in the realm of pop music, rising from homemade YouTube covers to the owner of multiple Hot 100 hits in a few short years. Tonight marked her debut on the SNL stage, where she serves as the musical guest alongside host Kristen Stewart.
For her first song, Cara performed "Scars to Your Beautiful." She concluded with a powerful performance of "River of Tears." You can watch it above and below.
This moment was a long-time coming, at least if you let her tell it. In an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last night, Cara told Fallon a story about a childhood trip to New York, when she was just drama-club student with a dream.
"I got in and I was like this is crazy, and I stood on your like monologue mark, and I was like, 'I'm going to be here one day,'" Cara said. "And the tour guide was like, 'Okay, keep going, move along.'"
Cara is a true product of the digital age; she rose to prominence when a record executive with EP Entertainment discovered her 2013 cover of "Sweater Weather" by The Neighbourhood on YouTube, and it has been an astonishing ascent to stardom ever since. She inked a deal with the label in 2015, armed with the distribution power of Def Jam behind her. Cara already has four Hot 100 songs to her credit ("Here", "Scars to Your Beautiful", "Wild Things" and "How Far I'll Go"), and her debut album, Know-It-All, peaked in the top 10 on U.S. charts, and was certified Gold in mid-2016.
The 20-year-old Canadian has been making headlines lately thanks to her collaboration with Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame. Cara performed the Miranda-written song, "How Far I'll Go," for the soundtrack to Disney's 2016 film, Moana. The song was recently nominated for Best Original Song at both the Oscars and the Golden Globes, a prestigious honor for a singer of any age.