Mi Orgullo Latino
In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, the Dominican and Peruvian singer/songwriter pens a love letter to her culture and music.
Born in Miami and raised in Washington Heights, New York it’s hard not to grow up with Latin influences. Washington Heights is a city within the city. Everything from the food to the music has influenced me. During the summers it was always hard to get a good night’s rest because everyone would be in the streets playing loud music. Most of what was played was bachata, merengue and salsa. Although Dominican culture is the heart and soul of the Heights, my mom made sure I was very well connected to my Peruvian roots as well.
My mom would teach me about her favorite Peruvian music artists. Some of her favorites were Chabuca Granda, Yma Sumac, and Eva Ayllón. She would school me on Peru’s rich history behind the Inca Empire, the food and different genres of music that were native to certain regions of Peru. On my Dominican side I was introduced to the likes of Antony Santos, Raulin Rodriguez, and Juan Luis Guerra. Through their songs I learned a lot about the importance of beautiful lyrics. As they say, Spanish is truly the language of love. As I got older I started listening to R&B, hip-hop, and was fortunate enough to witness the beginnings of artists who catered to the millennial generation whose parents are of Latin decent. These artists included Selena, Romeo Santos, Marc Anthony, and Jennifer Lopez among many more. Being able to witness what these artists were able to accomplish with their music and their impact gave me hope as a rising talent myself that I could also make my dreams come true.
Spanish was my first language growing up and my mom wanted to make sure I never forgot where I came from. When I was a finalist on American Idol I told the producers I wanted to sing in Spanish. It was really important to me. I made it a priority because I wanted to make my neighborhood, family and friends proud. I wanted to make Latinos proud and be an example to other little girls watching me. I wanted to let them know you always have to stay true to yourself. If I hadn’t done that, I don’t think I’ll be where I’m at today.
Latinos are the backbone of this country. No one works harder than immigrants. No one believes more in the American Dream than immigrants. We’re starting to see how much influence we really have especially with our music. Our music is bridging the gap between all generations and backgrounds. I’m signed to a label [Roc Nation Latin], which is devoting itself to breaking new Latin talent. And the CEO is none other than Romeo Santos, one of the greatest artists of our time who happens to be an American with Dominican and Puerto Rican roots.
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