The Cyrus family has spawned a country hitmaker, a pop diva and a pop-punk star, but now the youngest member of the clan, 16-year-old Noah Cyrus, is ready to make her name for herself. Her R&B-tinged pop tearjerker “Make Me (Cry)” is her first foray as an artist, and after the track’s debut on the Hot 100, Cyrus and collaborator Labrinth have recorded an acoustic performance of the song, premiering above.
“It’s so exciting because I feel like I can finally talk about it now,” Cyrus tells Rolling Stone from her family’s home in Los Angeles. For the past two years, the teen has been working on her own music. “Make Me (Cry)” represents the official launch of her new career and a definitive break from her past child-actor work on shows like her father Billy Ray’s series Doc and her sister Miley’s hit Hannah Montana.
Growing up in such a successful musical family ended up being more inspiring than intimidating for the singer-songwriter, but she skirted around her dreams of singing and performing for a bit when she started riding horses. “Then in 2014 is when the I Forget When We Were album came out by Ben Howard, and that was really inspiring to me,” she explains. “I just started getting this drive to want to write and sing and start my own album.”
Cyrus connected with the British R&B star Labrinth during one of her album’s writing sessions when he presented her with the idea for “Make Me (Cry),” which would end becoming their collaborative song. “Originally it was just me on the song, and then just by mistake his vocal came in and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, you have to stay on it,'” she recalls of how their duet came to be. “I think that was a really special moment for us because we were so excited, jumping around the studio like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this song is so sick!'”
Cyrus had long been a fan of Labrinth’s work, and beyond him and Howard, she admires Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Lady Gaga. The latter’s most recent release, the country-infused Joanne, has served as her muse during the writing process album for her debut album in recent months. While she’s pulling from many genres, country still factors into Cyrus’ own music. “In my family, I grew up listening to my dad sing country music, but [the album] is definitely different form what I was raised listening to,” she explains.
As for the entire Cyrus family, Noah has found her parents and many siblings to be extremely supportive of her journey. “My dad has learned all of the songs that I’ve sent him,” she says of Billy Ray’s enthusiasm. “He put it on his computer, on his jukebox, on his phone. He still has a Blackberry, by the way. But everybody’s been so supportive.”
Miley Cyrus has also served as a mentor for Noah, giving the teen advice on having a “thick skin” when it comes to being in the public eye. “Miley always says, ‘Don’t ever look yourself up or read your comments, ’cause you’re gonna see stuff that you don’t want to see,'” she quotes. “That’s the best advice ever. If it’s making me happy, then it’s working.”