Super talented Arra Dingle began singing at the age of seven and hasn’t stopped since. In the nine intervening years–that’s right, she is now the ripe old age of 16– she has blossomed into a quadruple threat with a repertoire that now includes dance, rap and acting. Here, the Harlem NY resident gives us a peek behind the curtain into what life is like for a high school junior about to make it big.
SA: What kind of name is Arra?
AD: My real name is Keyara, but my sister could not pronounce it so we just shortened it to Arra. I wish I could say there was something more interesting involved, but that’s all it was to be honest.
SA: How and when did you get started singing?
AD: I started singing when I was seven years old. My dad could never believe that I could sing. One day, I sang for him and he couldn’t believe his ears. That’s how it all started.
SA: But we all know you don’t go from singing for dad in the living room to recording albums! So what happened?
AD: I guess you could say I was just lucky. My dad works in the New York City court system and he just knew a lot of lawyers and judges. It turned out one of the lawyers had a son in the music business. We connected with him and that’s how I was able to meet a lot of my writing partners and get into the studio to record my music.
SA: Do you write your own songs?
AD: I have written some songs by myself and some with different up and coming artists like myself. All told, I guess I now have about 15 songs that I think are really good.
SA: Does performing in front of people come naturally to you?
AD: My first performance was very nerve-racking but for some reason everything changed for me after that. Now, the minute I get on stage, I feel totally at home.
SA: They say great performers are only truly comfortable when they are on stage. I guess that describes you.
AD: I think so.
SA: How did you hear about the Music Beats Cancer competition?
AD: My dad is the one who heard about it and he suggested I sign up. When I found out more about what they were trying to do, I knew I was going to get involved. Then, when I heard about the prize of an A&R meeting with a record label, there was no doubt that I would do it.
SA: How would you characterize the kind of music you are writing and performing?
AD: I really enjoy all types of music. Lately I’ve been writing R&B and pop but I’m trying to branch out to different genres. I’d say I’m trying to do more R&B now along the lines of Rihanna’s new album or Beyoncé’s most recent material. But I have also been trained in gospel and opera.
SA: You’ve got it all pretty much covered! Where can people hear your music?
AD: I’ve got a website, www.officialarra.com, or people can go on iTunes, Spotify and Youtube.
SA: Not that you have any spare time, but do you have other hobbies?
AD: I go to design school so I’m love with all types of art. I love graffiti art and I’m also doing fashion. I customize my own clothes. I guess you might say I’m always looking for creative outlets. I also do a lot of acting.
SA: Is there a particular message or theme that runs through your music?
AD: I would say that the message I am trying to send with my songs is that you have to keep your head up and keep on going. No matter how hard it gets sometimes. It’s going to be hard to find yourself sometimes, you’re going to feel lost, but I want to tell people it’s going to be okay. The important thing is to be the best you that you can be.
SA: That sounds like the theme of our song on Youtube titled “ID ME” with the lyric “No matter how hard it is I’ll try, and if I get knocked down I’m gonna get right up.”
AD: Yes, that’s very important to me.
SA: Where do you see yourself in ten years when you’ll be the ripe old age of 26?
AD: I would like to be really well-known, be at a great place in my career booking a lot of shows and doing alot of interviews and photo shoots.
SA: Are you sure you are just 16 years old?
AG: Yes, I’m pretty sure.
To learn more about Arra, visit her Music Beats Cancer profile here:
To purchase her music, please visit her iTunes page: