The Stunning Transformation Of Fletcher

If there is one pop star to keep your eye on these days, it's the edgy, beautiful, and incredibly talented Cari Fletcher, who goes by her last name. She made her debut with her 2015 single "War Paint," which was subsequently followed by her 2016 EP "Finding Fletcher." Over the years, she has had a stunning transformation, going from a young New Jersey native with dreams of someday becoming a singer to the Los Angeles-based pop icon who rang in 2023 by singing a duet on NBC with none other than Miley Cyrus.

Now that Fletcher has found her voice, she has signed with Capitol Records, released two more EPs and an album, and established herself as a queer icon. Speaking with Harper's Bazaar in 2019, the pop star touched on the importance of speaking up when you have a platform, and also noted that she doesn't mind not being liked. "Everybody needs water. I'd rather be whiskey. Not everybody likes whiskey, but it's got a kick and it's got a bite and it'll f*** your day up," she laughed.

As talented as she is down to earth, Fletcher has demonstrated her vocal and lyrical artistry, been an advocate for women and LGBTQIA+ people everywhere, and remained true to herself. If you aren't already following this artist closely, you'll want to keep an eye out for Fletcher because there's no telling where she'll be headed next.

She got into music as a young child

Born in Asbury Park, New Jersey, on March 19, 1994, Fletcher got an early start on her music career. At age 5, she began taking singing lessons, and then added piano lessons to the mix. That strong connection to music not only shaped her as a person, but was a critical outlet. As Fletcher told ABC News in 2022, "I felt really misunderstood as a kid. ... And [songwriting] was a way for me to share and to feel understood."

Her love of singing helped her land a job as a kids' birthday party princess while in high school, but as she told Paper in 2019, she still struggled with her cookie cutter-style town. "It was really hard when I was younger. If you were straight and a young woman, you had to like, date a football player, wear your hair a certain way, maybe even play a sport, maybe you were active in church, got good grades, lived for your family, and that was your life. ... I did most of that, but I'm not kidding when I tell you it was painful," she said.

Fletcher competed on X Factor in 2011

By the age of 17, Fletcher knew that she wanted to pursue a singing career. So, she auditioned for the premiere season of the American version of "The X Factor" in 2011. She had become a bootcamp finalist, finding mentorship from Paula Abdul, and was paired with other female finalists to form the country-pop girl group Lakoda Rayne. Unfortunately, they were cut from the show on the fifth week, and Simon Cowell theorized it was because "girls didn't like them," as they were "too pretty." Fletcher was also told that she did not have what it takes to make it as a solo artist. We all know now that prediction did not come true. 

As intense as "The X Factor" certainly must have been, Fletcher did not let it hold her down or deter her from pursuing her dreams. If anything, it lit a fire within the singer. Speaking with Dork in 2020, she explained that she no longer lets that type of criticism bother her. "There's always been pressure to be a certain way, because I kind of grew up seeing people a certain way. But now, you know, we're seeing so many more people be themselves and winning, and that's the coolest thing ever. And I've let go of a lot of pressure. Honestly, I think we have to in order to be happier," she said.

She found herself in New York City

After she finished high school and her stint on "The X Factor," Fletcher went on to attend Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University.  "I was a really anxious kid growing up, really bad OCD that I struggled with all throughout my whole childhood and into college," she explained to Harpers Bazaar in 2019. "Music was the one thing that I couldn't have so much anxiety over and be too obsessive over because it was just so free and fluid being able to sing a song." In addition to focusing on her music, Fletcher threw herself into an entirely new city where she finally felt free to express herself.

The singer explored her sexuality and fell in love with a girl for the first time, but the relationship ultimately ended in heartbreak as she was cheated on, leading her to write the EP "You Ruined New York City for Me." Fletcher detailed how the city both helped and hindered her recovery from the break up, continuing, "New York City has a way of just stripping you down to absolutely nothing and you're forced to just rebuild and figure your s*** out and grow up really fast here. But to be able to put out music at the same time was my lifeline." While she looks back on her college experience with "a dark cloud over it," she pulled herself together, wrote some incredible music, and got pretty famous in the process.

Her debut single was released in 2015

Fletcher was just 21 years old when she released her debut single "War Paint" in 2015, and it quickly topped the Spotify Viral Chart for a solid two weeks. Speaking with HuffPost just a couple of months after the song dropped, the singer enthused about her recent milestone of reaching 5 million listens on Spotify. "I'm so humbled that 5 million sets of ears have streamed 'War Paint.' I wish I could personally thank each person — it seems as though many are truly connecting with the message of the song, which is incredibly gratifying as a new artist," she said.

In describing her own sound, Fletcher explained, "When it comes to how I interpret my music, I consider it pop with substance. I've always wanted to make music that sat a little bit left of center but could still live in the world of top 40 radio, much like Lorde."

Since her massively successful single, the pop star has released a lot of new music, risen to nearly 1 million followers on Instagram, and had a song featured on the soundtrack for "Promising Young Woman." She also came out with her highly anticipated album "Girl of My Dreams" in 2022 and was listed on Forbes' 30 Under 30 List that same year.

Fletcher has shown support of #MeToo and women's empowerment efforts

Although she's only been in the spotlight for a few years, Fletcher has used her platform to stand up for women's empowerment efforts and has been outspoken about the abuse of power in the entertainment industry. In 2018, she released a song in line with the #MeToo campaign titled "I Believe You" and pledged to donate all proceeds for the ballad to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund.

In an open letter provided to Billboard, Fletcher wrote, "This song is for all of the amazing women I work with every day who have been felt up, shut up and kicked down. And for all the women whose stories I haven't heard, this song was made to let them know that I'm listening, we all are." When listening to Fletcher's music, the theme of empowerment is present throughout more songs than just "I Believe You."

In an interview with Equinox during Women's History Month, the singer acknowledged her privilege in having a platform and that she intends to continue to use it. When asked what women's empowerment means to her, Fletcher explained, "Unapologetic agency over my own voice and body is something I proudly express through all that I do as an artist. ... Visibility and feeling seen is empowering. Representation is empowering. Lifting up other women is empowering."

Her first single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 was Undrunk

Five months after signing with Capitol Records, Fletcher finally released the single that established her as an edgy, Tove Lo-esque pop star with undeniable promise. "Undrunk" was released in January of 2019 and it was her first, and so far only, song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 61 and spending six weeks on the chart. The track also landed as number one on Spotify's Viral Chart, and "Undrunk" has since been streamed more than 168 million times on the music app.

That same year, Fletcher chatted with Billboard about coming up with the song with her co-writers, saying she had just gotten out of a "toxic" relationship after being cheated on and wanted to capture all of the feelings she was experiencing at the time. "The inspiration behind it is really just wishing you could undo loving that person that ruined your life, broke your heart into a million pieces, stomped on it, lit it on fire and then f***ing ate it and threw it back up," she said.

She dated Shannon Beveridge until 2020

Fletcher dated YouTuber Shannon Beveridge between 2017 and 2020. The two had a lot of issues they were working on when, all of a sudden, the pandemic hit and they were quarantining together. Although the couple didn't last, Fletcher released her EP "The S(ex) Tapes" in September of 2020 about their relationship; Beveridge helped create the visual side of the album as director and cinematographer.

Speaking with Spin about working with her ex-girlfriend, Fletcher said, "I could not have imagined making this project with anybody else. ... But yeah, it's emotional. That's why this EP coming out is so, so bittersweet because this is a time capsule for the time that we spent together."

All seemed fine between the exes until Fletcher teased the release of her song "Becky's So Hot" on TikTok in July of 2022. Followers were quick to note that Beveridge's girlfriend is named Becky Missal. Yes, it seemed like Fletcher was calling Missal out by name in a song about hating your ex's new girl, but also being attracted to your ex's new girl. In what appeared to be a response to the teaser, Beveridge tweeted, "An empath would never." It's worth noting V Magazine called Fletcher their "empath" in 2016.

Fletcher has collabed with Disney Channel alumni

In May of 2021, Fletcher received an out of the blue text from Hayley Kiyoko, who was known for her role in "Lemonade Mouth" on Disney Channel before branching out with her own singing career. The two decided they wanted to collaborate on a song together, but it took a little time before their track "Cherry" came to be. "As I was originally writing ['Cherry'], I was envisioning Hayley being on it for some reason. And I couldn't get that out of my head," Fletcher said in a December 2021 Elle interview. "We went into the studio and we just made it 10 times better. We wrote a verse and Hayley had a bridge idea and it just all came to life."

But Kiyoko isn't the only former Disney Channel star with whom Fletcher has teamed up. Fletcher performed her hit "Becky's So Hot" during "Miley's New Year's Eve Party" on New Year's Eve 2022, and even changed the lyrics at one point to say "Miley's so hot." Later in the evening, Miley Cyrus sang her track "Midnight Sky" with Fletcher, and fans went wild for their flirty performance.

She took part in The L Word: Generation Q in 2022

"The L Word' came out on Showtime in 2004 and was a groundbreaking series that followed the lives of gay and bisexual women figuring out their relationships and sexuality in Los Angeles. Then there was "The Real L Word," a reality series that premiered in 2010 and ran for three seasons. And in 2019, "The L Word: Generation Q" arrived. The scripted series is a sequel to the original show, and even featured some of the original characters. 

Fletcher, who had already been outspoken about her sexuality for years, had been invited to join an episode of "The L Word: Generation Q." By all accounts, she couldn't have been happier to participate. In November 2022, the singer told Out, "Growing up there wasn't a lot of queer and sapphic art, and media, and shows or movies for us to take in. And I think that show has just done such an incredible job at just painting the reality of queer relationships. And when I was shooting, I got to meet some of the original cast, and was just fangirling so hard."

Fletcher later posted a photo on Instagram of herself smiling and wearing a shirt that read "The L Word Generation Q Season 3." "Honored to have been a part of this season," she wrote in the caption. "What a dream cast and crew."

Her friendship with Kelsea Ballerini led to a song

They might seem like an unlikely duo, but Fletcher and country singer Kelsea Ballerini have formed a remarkable friendship. The two have even worked on a song together called "Better Version," which is featured on the deluxe version of Fletcher's 2022 record, "Girl of My Dreams." The lyrics detail two points of view around a breakup.

Fletcher and Ballerini met after the country star attended one of Fletcher's shows and they hit it off from there. Fans can't get enough of the singers' friendship, and rumors have even begun to circulate around a possible romance. In February 2023, Fletcher told People, "I've seen all the shipping. I think Kelsea and I have always just said that when special people come into your life at times during your healing process, people can make whatever they want out of a dynamic. We've seen all the comments, and it's a funny thing."

While there's little hope for a romance blossoming between Fletcher and Ballerini, their friendship is incredibly wholesome. The "Bitter" singer continued, "That's just really special to have somebody else be like, 'Hey, are you feeling these things? I'm feeling these things,' and to lean on each other in those ways is super beautiful."

Fletcher postponed her tour after being diagnosed with Lyme disease

On September 13, 2023, Fletcher took to Instagram to share a serious update on her health. "I have recently been diagnosed with Lyme Disease," she wrote. "I started to become increasingly ill over the last couple years and just kept pushing even though I knew there was something deeper going on." Although it's a difficult illness to diagnose, Lyme disease is treatable and several celebrities have opened up about living with the condition, including Alec Baldwin, Avril Lavigne, Justin Bieber, and Ben Stiller. Fletcher explained that she was undergoing treatments, but that her recently diagnosed disease wasn't just completely exhausting her physically, but taking a toll on her voice.

It was with a heavy heart that the singer announced she would be postponing her European and United Kingdom tour, as well as her planned shows in Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico. She continued in the post, "I debated on whether or not I wanted to speak about this publicly, but I've always let you into my world through the good, the bad and the ugly and I didn't want to stop sharing with you now." She signed off with the promise she would take time to rest so she could come back "bigger and better" in the future.