If you want to know what dedication and hard work looks like, look no further, because Allison Strong is the perfect example. Raised in Union City, New Jersey, the singer and actress has performed on a number of stages from Broadway to the White House. At just 9-years-old, she sang on stage at the Metropolitan Opera and has continued to live and follow her dreams while obstacles have tried to knock her down.
The Colombiana has a passion for music and acting, which have become her driving force. Constantly being told "no" or being second guessed because she does not live up to society’s standards have been tough, but she continued to fight for what she wanted. But while society strives for instant gratification, Strong knows that all great things happen when they’re supposed to — which may not necessarily be in that moment.
We spoke to Strong about how her culture has influenced her music, her acting career, and how she has gotten to where she is today, even with all the hardships and rejection.
Ready to be inspired? Then read all about Strong’s incredible journey below:
How do you feel you push cultural boundaries in your music and in your career?
Just by being the daughter of Colombian immigrants, by incorporating and acknowledging my heritage and the traditional music of that country of Colombia, and also incorporating an American twist. I was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, but grew up always going and visiting my family. So I think that I've melded those two together, and in a way, [that's] made my music more diverse. Usually it always one way or the high way — let's just do Spanish music or let's just do English music, and I think that we're getting to a point in music where genres are going to become a little bit obsolete, and we're going to start meshing them together and it's going to get more interesting.
So we noticed your album has a lot of Latin, but then there's English and you also have country-folk. How do you fuse all of these things together into one album?
You know, it's interesting. Every song has its own personality and has its own place being there because they all represent facades of me, and so it doesn't seem like they clash at all. The way that the album was produced was in a way that every song sounded different, but had a very clear, thorough line. And just the title, Hacia El Sol (Towards the Sun), there's just this light quality that carries through the entire album.
Every song really is based on personal experience or sentiment, and even though there are a couple of different genres and a couple of different influences, there's not really anything that screams out at you. You know, I'm not rapping here.
Were you ever worried or nervous that you were taking on too much in one album?
It's sort of daunting, but I've had a lot of help. Juanito is one of my producers for the album [and] I've had a lot of help from a lot of different sources. But doing something on your own and so young — I'm in my early 20s — and taking on this undertaking has been a joy, but it's also been very new to me. I've been a singer since I was a child. I sang at the Met as a child, and I've been on Broadway a couple of times. I'm 23 and [there's] a lot of things to do and not really knowing how to do it. So you kind of learn on your way, but the music is the underlining goal. If you have a passion for it, you continue to strive forward, and continue to fight towards your own personal sun — like my album title says, Hacia al Sol — and trying to get there. No matter how daunting or scary the obstacles are in your way, you just continue to fight forward, and that's what music is for me and what writing is for me.
Okay, now you've done the acting thing and done voices for shows such as, Dora the Explorer. Can you talk a little bit about how you balance your music career and acting?
You know what's interesting, being a performer you have to constantly be flexible because you never know where you're going to end up next. One moment you could be doing cartoon voices, and another moment you could be doing a straight play, which is what I just came off from doing. I did a show called “Under my Skin” off-Broadway written by the same people that did “The Nanny,” and so that was a complete gear switch. What I find is that when those opportunities end, you have to reinvent yourself and create someone new. You have tap into your other abilities and singing has always been there for me. Singer first and actor second. But how do I balance [it all]? It's interesting because acting jobs are so transient. They end one moment and you’re like what do I do now, and it's sort of these things where you're like, I guess I'm going to play the guitar now. Well gosh, maybe I should do something with this and continue with this. It's an exciting career path because under the performing arts — under that umbrella — there are so many different avenues that you can explore without really going out of that range. It's not like I'm going into construction or anything. I'm going into construction of music [Laughs].
Read more on page 2>>>