On November 10th, the Latin Grammys will toast our musical superstars, from Pitbull to Shakira. But who are the superstars of tomorrow? Let us show you the future!
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If you like Rihanna, you’ll love Sabi
You’ve heard her rapping on Britney Spears's "(Drop Dead) Beautiful" and singing on Cobra Starship's "You Make Me Feel," and now this half-black, half-Salvadorean California girl is readying her solo album for an early 2012 release, with producers like Benny Blanco (Ke$ha) and Diplo (M.I.A) by her side. "I'm a pop artist, but I want to bring some rawness and urban swagger to the table," says Sabi, born Jenice Dena Portlock 24 years ago. The daring fashionista joined Britney onstage during a few of the pop princess’s tour dates this year. “I hope people like my music, but I like it, so that’s all I care about,” she says. If her dub step—inspired single “Wild Heart” is any indication, she won’t be her only fan.
If you like Florence Welch, you’ll love Francisca Valenzuela
Nicknamed the Princess of Chilean Rock by critics back home in Santiago, the San Francisco–born 24-year-old made her stateside debut in August with the sophomore album Buen Soldado, a collection of jazzy pop ballads she composed and infused with her killer piano skills. “i wrote songs from the visceral, confessional side of me,” says Valenzuela, who narrates stories about everything from falling in love (“Quiero verte más”) to the need for political leadership in the world (“salvador”). Valenzuela recently proved her worth onstage at Austin City Limits, the same music festival where Coldplay, Kanye West and Stevie Wonder played this year. But that’s not where her talents end—this soulful chica is also a published author. Her book of poetry, Defenseless Waters (2000), boasted an introduction by none other than Isabel Allende!
If you like Katy Perry, you’ll love Daniela Brooker
At 18, the half-British, half-Venezuelan siren has a mature, soulful voice that triggers goose bumps. No wonder she’s attracted powerhouse producers such as Louis Read (Mary J. Blige). Her versatility comes across in rock-influenced tracks like “Heart Locked” and country-tinged songs like “Superwoman,” but her heart goes “boom, boom, boom” for pop music, as evidenced by the sizzling single “Summer Love”— which she sprinkled with a little Spanish! “i’m often very inspired out in the clubs, dancing and having fun,” says the London-based Brooker, whose fabulous red hair makes us want to visit the hair salon, ASAP!
If you like Mariah Carey, you’ll love Denise Lara
“I've been chasing this dream since i was 11 years old,” says Lara, and she’s not exaggerating. That’s when the California-based Mexicana won Quiero Ser Estrella, a spanish-language version of Star Search, thanks to her incredible five-octave range (the same as Mariah!). Now 23, the former model is finally working on her first album, a collection of pop ballads and techno bangers due next summer. Does Lara’s voice sound familiar? You can hear her singing “One” on the Pokemon: The Movie 2000 soundtrack, and voicing melody on the spanish version of The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea.
If you like Esperanza Spalding, you’ll love Jessy J
Much like her Grammy award-winning labelmate Spalding, singer-saxophonist Jessy J is an accomplished Jazz artist shaking up the genre. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Jessy combines Samba, Bossa Nova and Cumbia with “floating melodies and delicious grooves.” “My mom is from Texas and my dad is from Sinaloa, Mexico, so I have an affinity to music from both sides of the border,” says the 32-year-old. Her third album, Hot Sauce, was released in September and features eight original songs, plus a fresh interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “in a sentimental mood.”
If you like Britney Spears, you’ll love Mayra Veronica
“I plan on inspiring you to free yourself from inhibitions,” says Veronica, whose first single, “Freak Like Me,” burned up the charts—and club floors everywhere—when it premiered this past summer. Already a household name in the world of Spanish TV (she’s a former model on Univision’s Don Francisco Presenta), Veronica is used to being the center of attention. As for her love of music, that comes from her dad, a member of Cuban rock band, Los Dada. No doubt Veronica’s upcoming dance album, Saint Nor Sinner, due early 2012, will make listeners hot under the collar—at least that’s the effect the sultry 31-year-old Cubana has on the young soldiers she visits during her many USO tours.
If you like Bruno Mars, you’ll love Beatriz Luengo
The Madrid-born singer, actress and one-time circus performer mixes pop, reggae and urban beats on her fourth disc, Bela y Sus Moskitas Muertas, released in September. The album’s main mission is to “make people feel good,’ says 28-year-old Luengo, who was introduced to music by her grandmother, a copla singer. It’s an album that you can listen to during dinner with friends at home, that you can dance to, or can take with you in your car for a long trip.”
If you like Leona Lewis, you’ll love Lea
The Dominican-Puerto Rican became the first female to be signed to 50 Cent’s label, G-note records, this year, but she caught our attention back in 2004 on rapper Lil’ flip’s hit ‘Sunshine.” Now the Queens-bred singer-songwriter, 31, is getting a chance to showcase her breathy vocals and pop-dance sensibilities in tracks about love, breaking up and believing in yourself. “I want my project to have a certain strength behind it because I feel like anyone can appreciate and be inspired by a woman in power,” says Lea, as she puts the finishing touches on her forthcoming album, due sometime in 2012.
Listen to Lea's single "November Skies" here.
If you like Lily Allen, you’ll love Ximena Sariñana
A crossover was imminent when the Guadalajara native received a Grammy nom for her Spanish-language debut, Mediocre, in 2008. “It was a big, big challenge,” says Sariñana about the switch, even though she was already familiar with career shifts, having been a telenovela actress as a child. But attempting to conquer a finicky U.S. audience proved more intimidating. Thankfully, the 11 pop songs in her self-titled English CD, released this August, are pakced with the kind of faster sounds that don’t sacrifice the 26-year-old’s lush voice or engaging lyrics. It’s no wonder she’s getting praise from the likes of Rolling Stone and NPR. Just listen to “Shine Down,” a disco-fied ditty about lacking commitment, or the breezy, catchy “Different” about being from someplace else—and you’ll be hooked.
If you like Julieta Venegas, you’ll love Gaby Moreno
Infinitely listenable is the best way to describe this guitar-strumming Guatemalan and her aplty named second album, Illustrated Songs. Inspired by music from the vaudeville era of the 1920s, the bilingual disc blends thoughtful lyrics, deft arrangements and soothing vocals in a bluesy haze that is both old-school (as in the music of her idols Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald) and completely original. “Every song is in its own little world,” says Moreno, 30, about tracks like “Ave Que Emigra” inspired by her own experience migrating to California after graduating high school in 2001. Indeed, it was here in the U.S. that she discovered the power of music. “I heard an African American woman singing on the street in New York City when I was younger and I just froze,” says Moreno. “When I asked her what she calls that music, she looked at me and said, “that’s the blues, honey.”