Hispanicize Miami is one of the largest event for Latino trendsetters and newsmakers from journalism, marketing, entertainment and tech entrepreneurship. In it’s 9thyear the 4-day event took place April 17thto April 19 at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami. The event entailed keynote speakers, workshops, showcases, celebrity meet and greets, exhibitions, award ceremonies and concerts.
Being that it was my first year attending I did my research ahead of time because I didn’t really know what to expect. I came prepared with casual yet business like attire, my camera and of course business cards. While at the event I was able to connect with a few people and absorb everything I was surrounded by. My favorite part I would have to say would be the keynote speakers and meeting social media phenomenon LeJuan James.
Some pointers I took with me was to not say the word, “just” or “try” all the time and own what it is that I’m doing and being confident in my work. Body language says a lot without having to say a word and when you’re confident it shows.
I would definitely love to come back next year to Hispanicize Miami and this time connect with more people in the media industry.
This year marked the 17th annual Chicago International Salsa Congress and this exciting 4-day event was filled with musicians, performances and dance workshops. The feeling once you step into the salsa congress is like no other. There’s a joy that comes over you and it doesn’t matter if you’re not a dancer because the overall experience is breathtaking. Many come for its sole purpose and that is to enjoy themselves, experience and witness what the event is all about.
As always it never ceases to amaze me on how performers from different states, cities and around the world come together under one roof to showcase their best performances. Passion, creativity, love for music and dance is shared with the crowed. This year in particular there was more of a focus on the youth program and dance. I was stunned to see such young kids go on stage and dance their hearts off. After learning what Rosita Ragin-Alamin, co-founder and producer shared with me, she noted that it is important because these kids go on stage in front of many people and learn to become confident. I could not agree more because if there is something where kids can learn how to feel that poise within them they can conquer anything.
During the day, DJ’s and guest DJ’s play music continuously throughout 3 ballrooms and the main hallway area to keep the energy going. The evening weekend line up featured, JR and his bachata band from New York, Orquesta Guayacan direct from Colombia, La Sonora Ponceña of Puerto Rico and Sunday night closed with the best of the best from the Midwest with an incredible jam session under the direction of Chicago’s own Edwin Sanchez and Angel Rodriguez.
Each year I always look forward to the different workshops held during the day such as, SalsaArobics, Bachata Footwork, Ladies Styling, Mambo Shines, Cuban Salsa, Cha Cha, Brazilan Samba, Afro Mambo, Kizomba, Vogue and the list goes on! The classes are an hour long and usually there is one or two instructors leading the class in each ballroom for different classes. At the end of each workshop session the instructor allows the class to record him/her as they demonstrate the routine one last time. Instructors also offer a one-on-one private dance session.
If you’re interested, then you definitely do not want to miss out on next year’s Chicago International Salsa Congress! February 7 -10, 2019. For more info, click on the link below and visit them!
Singer/artist Amara La Negra has been making a statement since the first season of Love & Hip Hop Miami aired on January 1, 2018. The viewers are able to know more about her and how she is empowering women like her to not give up, never change who you are and most importantly your appearance. She is shining a light on how difficult it is for women who are dark skinned to make it in the entertainment/music industry without being told that they need to change their appearance.
Born Dana Danelys De Los Santos in Miami, Florida, the 27-year-old was raised by a single mother who moved from the Dominican Republic to the United States in hopes to give her daughter a better future. Amara has shared some of her deepest moments on the show on how her mother worked five jobs to make ends meet. She also shared that as a young girl she attended dance classes, took acting classes, modeling and in 1991 she won her first award in a beauty pageant.
Amara is a Latin musician who has made music in the Latin industry and has worked with well-known artists along the way. However, from what we’ve learned from her debut on Love & Hip Hop, Amara is looking into breaking in the American music industry but not without facing hardships from being told that she needs to change her appearance. In a recent interview on the radio station the Breakfast Club, Amara discusses these particular issues.
“We come in so many different shades that it’s like, why is it so hard for people to understand that or accept me? I feel like there’s this standard of beauty that you have to look a certain type of way in order to be pretty, your hair needs to be straight and silky or if you’re Latina you have to look like J. LO…” She also noted, “there isn’t a Latin country that doesn’t look like me.”
On the show Amara seeks guidance from a well-known producer named Young Hollywood. She wanted some insight on how she can make a crossover from the Latin music industry to the American music industry. However, things took a turn when he asked her why her hair is the way it is. He then proceeded to tell her to be less Macy Gray and be more Beyoncé and called her a Nutella Queen.
As you can imagine the internet has been all over this issue and the majority are taking a stand with Amara. Although, she discussed how she was angry, instead she explains how important it is to educate people like Young Hollywood.
Since the show Amara has been on several interviews and continues to bring awareness to the public. She also landed a multi-album record deal with BMG and is the CEO and founder of ALN Clothing line. This goes to show that even after being criticized Amara does not let it stop her and get in the way of her dreams. She explains how she embraces her appearance, sets her self apart and is her own person. The Afro-Latina is empowering women and young ladies to love the skin they’re in and their hair. She notes everyone is different and that’s what makes them unique.
Although, this topic is about breaking in the American music industry this is something that many Latinos and African-American’s encounter. The stereotype continues because people are not properly educated or are single-minded.
To learn more about Amara La Negra you can watch the show Love and Hip Hop Miami every Monday 9/8C on VH1 and or follow her on social media.
On Sunday April 16 it would have been Selena Quintanilla’s 46th birthday. What better way to celebrate than by having a tribute to the singer known as the Queen of Tejano.
ColdChillen Event Management hosted yet another memorable event. “Missing My Baby” was held at Untitled in Chicago and it was all about Selena Quintanilla. As soon as you walked in ladies were given a single white rose and a goody bag. A birthday cake was also presented with a photo of the singer on it and an artist was doing a live mural painting of Selena. The lights were dim and candles lit up the room for the occasion. There was also a tabled filled with pizza boxes for guests and another station with nail technicians from Hush Nail Salon doing manicures. A mariachi band also performed and paid tribute.
The ambiance in the room was uplifting and you can feel the love and energy resonating. A projector screen played a video with pictures of Selena as music played in the background. Selena’s music and voice swept fans from all over the world and her legacy continues to live on.
This year marked the 16th annual Chicago International Salsa Congress, (CISC). The four-day event took place on Thursday February 9 to Sunday February 12 at the O’Hare Regecy Hyatt. The Salsa Congress is an event where different dancers from all around the world meet to share the same love and passion of dance. The event was full of non-stop excitement and features dance workshops, performances, competitions, vendors and social dancing to the live band and DJ.
Due to the many workshops available during the day I was able to go to a few even though I wish to have done them ALL! My first workshop was Vogue with Instructor Carlos 007 of Latin Rage Dance Company in Los Angeles. The class taught me how to incorporate voguing with salsa moves. Just like Salsa, Carlos explained the importance of moving your body and telling a story through vouging.
“Using pain to create the creativity and to create masterpieces,” said Carlos 007.
Another workshop that I took was Ladies Styling with Blanca Aviles of Latin Rhythms in Chicago. She taught the class how to style your hands, arms, and legs while dancing Salsa. The fluidity of each body gesture is what makes any dance unique. Another important tip I took away from the class is that each movement should come natural when dancing.
“Take the stuff that feels organic to your body,” said Blanca.
A few other workshops that I did was Partner-work on 2 intermediate/advanced with Tamara Livolsi and Tito Ortos and Salsa Turn Patterns on 2 beginner/intermediate with Ernesto and Maritza. Both classes involved practicing with a partner and most importantly having the patience to get the steps right.
“Keep training and discipline whatever you can grab your hands onto,” said Tamara.
Each workshop was tailored to what the instructor teaches and a great way to learn the many different dance styles. Although, some classes were more challenging than others it still gave people an opportuity to step out their comfort zone and learn.
“Never stop learning and have fun,” said Maritza.
And that is exactly what each performance exuded from the afternoon and evening showcases. From the costumes to their facial expression each dance group and or solo dancers gave their all and showed. This year in particular was extra special and emotional for some of the performers because it was their last debut. Ericka Crespo who dances with Urban Vibe Dance Company in Chicago performed her last mambo routine. The group danced to Celia Cruz’s “Caramelo,” and you felt the love and passion that was put into the choreography.
“This was an emotional and bittersweet performance overall. I’m grateful to have been part of the dance world in general and to have a oppportunity to show others the art of dance,” said Ericka.
Another dance company who closed the 16th annual CISC on Sunday night was Gifted Souls who also came to an end as they debuted their “Last Roar,” a Lion King inspired choreography. Director Rocky Quinones of Gifted Souls moves on to become a new father and at the end of their performance a machine exploded with pink and white confetti to reveal the gender of his baby to be, a girl. There was a total of 56 dancers who performed the “Last Roar” the majority being from Gifted Souls and some from other dance companies who auditioned. Overall, the performance was breathtaking and unforgettable.
At the end of every performance each night the Grand Ballroom was cleared in order to have an open space to dance, hence the term “Social Dancing.” Some of the live bands/artists who closed the night were Jimmy Bosh and the All Star Orchestra featuring Yoko, Herman Olivera and Nelson Gonzalez on Tres, La Japonesa Salsera and all the way from Spain Tromboranga Salsa Orchestra.
This year’s Salsa Congress was another success! And I hope to see you at next year’s CISC, until thenDANCE!
Outside of music Dwayne “Salez” Lespoir is a local promoter in his city which started off as a way to showcase his talent. However, it became bigger than that and he soon found himself bringing in well-known artists. “No one wanted to give me that chance so I had to do it myself,” said Salez
Born and raised in Montreal, Canada the 28 year-old rapper/singer of Guyanese descent has written and produced his music. He also takes the time to write music for up and coming artists. In 2010 his mixtape “Hard Work Pays Off,” and his single, “Headlock,” was highly acclaimed and received a great deal of attention. But his hard work doesn’t stop there, Salez recently shot a music video in Jamaica named, “Live Like This,” and is anticipated to make its debut very soon.
Salez continues to write music and feels it is about expressing yourself. “If I hear a hip-hop, jazz or pop beat and it takes me to someplace I write to it. To me music is not about having a lane but it’s more about being able to connect with different people all around the world,” he said.
He describes his music as a way to give a vivid picture of himself, his life and struggles he’s encountered. Although Salez has set some ways for himself it was not always easy and hit a few bumps down the road. He has encountered closed doors, other artists not wanting to collaborate with him, DJ’s who refused to play his songs and “friends” who were not a support system. Through it all he continues to overcome obstacles and works for what he loves. “I’ll prove everyone wrong because being the underdog was something I always loved. So I never let it phase me or discourage me cause I know my time is moments away,” he said.
Some of Salez inspirations growing up were Biggie Smalls and Fabolous. Other influences include Chris Brown, Eric Bellinger and Jeremih and noted he is a big R&B lover. If he had the chance to collaborate with a known artist or producer he admits it would be Fabolous because of the status he has maintained for years and managed to stay relevant year after year.
When I asked Salez where does he see himself in 5 years and hopes to accomplish he said, “I definitely see myself writing hits for more famous celebrities. Headlining my own show and to have a song on the top 10 Billboard Charts.
If you haven’t heard yet J.Cole is set to release his new album titled, “4 Your Eyez Only,” on December 9. He also provided a 40 minute documentary titled, “Eyez,” which previewed some of his new music from his album. One song in particular has everyone talking. The music video, “False Prophets,” is giving people the impression that he is referring to Kanye West and his mental break down. In one part of the song he says…
Ego in charge of every move, he’s a startAnd we can’t look away due to the days that hecaught our heartsHe’s falling apart, but we deny itJustifying that half ass shit he dropped, we alwaysbuy it.When he tells us he a genius but it’s clearer latelyIt’s been hard for him to look into the mirror latelyThere was a time when this nigga was my here,maybeThat’s the reason why his fall from grace is hard to take.
The Dreamville leader always produces strong poetic lyrics and it is no wonder why his fans are raving about his new project. I’m a fan myself and after seeing him perform at Lollapalooza this past summer I definitely can’t wait to get my hands on his new album this Friday because it, “BE LIKE THIS.”
“Patience is a talent but it is also the main reason why so many people give up early. This business isn’t an overnight success even though it may feel that way. It takes years. Look at me, 13 plus years and I still love it,” said Abel Lopez.
Born and raised in New Jersey Abel or also known by his nick name Amess is an aspiring artist who writes his own music but noted he has been creating music differently. “Many call it freestyling but to me it’s deeper than that. Now i just turn the mic on and let the words come out,” he said. At the moment he is working on a mixtape named “Take Your Time / TYT.” “This project is basically about a man and woman going through “love problems” in their relationship. The boyfriend happens to be an artist so it becomes harder for his girlfriend to hold on since his career is starting to take off,” he said.
Ever since Abel was a young kid he was into music and then decided to rap one day. As he grew so did his passion for music and with the help of Youtube he taught himself how to build a recording studio in his home. Consistency and patience are two attributes Amess carries in order to continue succeeding as an artist. His biggest motivator is his mother who raised him and his brother on her own. In the music industry his motivator growing up was 50 Cent. In the mist of working and creating music a typical day for him would be checking his stats on social media to make sure his brand is growing on a daily basis. He also takes time to set up his daily promotions on social media and depending on how much is needed he will go to the studio to record. When I asked where his brand name Lamborghini Dreamz came from he said it was something he once said in a song and ever since it has stood with him and it is also his favorite car. He also clarified what the brand name means for his music career. “Lamborghini Dreamz doesn’t mean “the car” it means to live a life that not many get a chance to and just live the Lamborghini Dream. Not everyone owns a Lamborghini and not everyone is going to have that Lamborghini Dream in them,” he said. His music career has taken him to perform in venues from New Jersey and New York. If there is one artist he could open for it would be Drake because he is a huge fan and feels he can relate to his audience.
The art of creating music has not always been an easy journey and was at a standstill for Abel. However, all that changed when his best told him about the show Empire on Fox which then motivated him to do music again. He appreciates how the show illustrates what goes into a record label and how a family can go through obstacles but still stand together and own an elite record company. At the time Abel is learning how to play the piano and drums and hopes to own his own clothing line and record label. This is an artist you don’t want to miss out on!
You can follow Abel on his social media outlets below.
Stop what you’re doing and watch this new video entitled Little Lady directed by Jacob Cuevas. The A.S.A Project which stands for “Always Something Awesome,” is a spunky group that gives you both alternative and hip-hop in their music. This new hit is full of energy, love and surely an album you don’t want to miss out on. Make sure to also check out the rest of their upbeat videos on The A.S.A Project (Album) below.
Below you will also find the websites to Heart of the City and Private Stock along with their social media outlets. So if you’re an artist looking for exposure then they are your go to.