Cabello was born in Cojimar, Eastern Havana, Cuba, to Sinuhe Estrabao and Alejandro Cabello. She is Mexican-Cuban. For most of her early life, she and her family moved back and forth between Havana and Mexico City, Mexico (her father’s native country), before relocating to Miami, Florida at age 5. She attended Miami Palmetto High School but left in the 2012–13 school year, when she was in 9th grade, to pursue her singing career.
Camila Cabello auditioned for The X Factor in Greensboro, North Carolina. She auditioned with Aretha Franklin’s Respect, however, her audition was not aired because the TV show didn’t get the rights for the song. After elimination during the “bootcamp” portion of the process in Miami, Florida, Cabello was called back to the stage along with Ally Brooke, Normani Kordei, Lauren Jauregui, and Dinah Jane to form the girl group that would later become known as Fifth Harmony. They signed a joint deal with Syco Music, owned by Simon Cowell, and Epic Records, L.A. Reid’s record label, after finishing in third place on the show.
The group released the EP Better Together (2013) along with the studio albums Reflection (2015) and 7/27 (2016), which generated singles such as “Worth It” and “Work from Home”. From 2013 through the end of 2016, Cabello performed in various Fifth Harmony tours.
On December 18, 2016, the group announced Cabello’s departure. She appeared in a previously taped performance with the group on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. Writing about Cabello’s time on the group, Billboard’s Shirley Halperin noted it is “rather uncommon for someone to stand out in a collective as much as Cabello has over the past years,” also mentioning how her activity on social media and close interaction with her audience helped her potential as a breakout act.
In November 2015, Cabello collaborated with Canadian singer Shawn Mendes on a duet titled “I Know What You Did Last Summer”, a song they wrote together. The single charted at number 20 in the US and 18 in Canada, and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). On October 14, 2016, American rapper Machine Gun Kelly released a joint single with Cabello called “Bad Things”, which reached a peak of number four on the US Billboard Hot 100. Cabello was included on Time’s “The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2016” list.
On January 25, 2017, “Love Incredible”, a collaboration with Norwegian DJ Cashmere Cat, leaked online. The official version of the song was released on February 16, and later featured on Cashmere Cat’s debut studio album, 9. Cabello recorded “Hey Ma” with Pitbull and J Balvin for The Fate of the Furious: The Album. The “Hey Ma” (Spanish Version) single and music video were released on March 10, 2017. The English version of the song was released on April 6, 2017. The singer was also featured on a collaboration with Major Lazer, Travis Scott and Quavo, for the song “Know No Better”.
In May 2017, Cabello announced the future release of her first studio album titled The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving. and posted on social media about the story behind the project, saying: “[The album] is the story of my journey from darkness into light, from a time when I was lost to a time when I found myself again.” Her first solo single “Crying in the Club” was released on May 19, 2017. Cabello performed the song for the first time at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards the same month. She joined Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic World Tour as an opening act for several of its dates. The singer also partnered with clothing brand Guess as the face for their 2017 Fall campaign. Cabello confirmed her debut album will be released in 2018, declaring, “at this point I have so many songs I’m passionate about,” while new writing and recording sessions where influenced by the success of her single “Havana”. The single has reached number 1 in Australia and number 2 in the United States.