Ciara on the Songs That Define Her Life and Career

Taylor Hill/FilmMagic
Ciara attends the the Go Red For Women fall 2015 fashion show on Feb. 12, 2015 in New York City. 

The star opens up with Sade, chills out to Three 6 Mafia and gets inspired by MJ

"Music that comes from the heart -- that's the music that moves me," says Ciara. And the Atlanta-based R&B singer, 30, has certainly been on the move recently, launching a tour on Nov. 27 behind her album Jackie and contributing a haunting cover of the Rolling Stones classic "Paint It, Black" to new movie The Last Witch Hunter. She spoke with Billboard about the songs, show and stars that define her life and career.

First Song I Performed Live
"I signed up to do 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at a high school basketball game. I was so nervous I sang something wrong mid-song and stopped."

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First Album I Bought
"I was 10 when I got Michael Jackson's Thriller with my allowance. I knew one day I would do the same thing as him: perform in front of the world. He gave me that. I never got to go to one of his concerts. It's one of my biggest disappointments in life."

My Stay-Cool Music
"Michael called me once. I was bumping Three 6 Mafia because I was trying to keep calm before he called. It was so loud I missed his call. I was like, 'Oh, no!' He called back, and was very down to earth. He asked what the weather was like in Atlanta. I never got to meet him. It's sad, actually."

Album That Sums Me Up
"Sade's Love Deluxe: I'm a big lover. You should always allow yourself to be vulnerable when you love someone -- it just matters who you give your love to. I hope to learn from my mistakes. I have no regrets."

What I Listen To With My Boyfriend, Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson
"He's a big Luther Vandross fan, and so am I. I didn't realize we would have so much in common with music. He's an old soul like me."

Song I Sing To Future Zahir, My Year-Old Son With Ex Future
"I made a lullaby in the beginning of [Jackie track] 'I Got You' -- I wanted to sing 'Hush Little Baby,' but didn't want to sing him 'I'm going to buy you a diamond ring' and all that, so I did a remix. I have to think of more songs to sing him. It's like, 'Mom, you've been singing this all my life. Think of something new!' "

Song That Got Me Through My 'Toughest Loss'
"I lost my grandfather four years ago: He had cancer and was gone really fast. I can still cry on the spot when I think about what happened to him. I listened to 'Never Would Have Made It' by Marvin Sapp. It's very therapeutic. What better song to put things in perspective and know that God is always with you?"

Listen to Ciara and other artists featured in this week's issue of Billboard.

This story originally appeared in the Nov. 28 issue of Billboard.

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