Up Next: Meet Ginette Claudette, The Honey-Sweet Dominican Singer-Songwriter Helping To Resurge R&B

Up Next is a FIERCE series highlighting rising Latina and Latin American women artists you might not know about but definitely should.

R&B, that soulful good-good that many of us grew up on, is making a come back, and Latina singers are a part of the resurgence. Case in point: Ginette Claudette.

The honey-voiced dominicana, inspired equal parts by Latina stars like Selena, vocal divas like Whitney Houston and R&B princesses like Aaliyah, has been making sweet R&B since she was a kid. In 2010, when the artist was just a teen, she even landed a deal with Universal Motown. But navigating the music industry, especially as a young woman of color, isn’t easy, and four years ago, the striving singer-songwriter decided to take a break and work on herself, returning home to New York to do some mental-clearing and soul-searching.

“I just felt mentally exhausted. At that point, I was years and years into the grind, and I just needed to get re-inspired. I moved back to the East Coast and started making music at home. I started opening up more not only to myself, but in the music,” the Washington Heights-born, Los Angeles-living Ginette told FIERCE.

In 2018, after getting the rest, inspiration and creativity she needed, the rising star got back to work, releasing her impressive EP On to Something, a gentle, yet bold, project that vulnerably places her emotions at the center and feels like a welcomed return to 00’s New York-style rhythm and blues.

We chatted with the velvety songstress all about her long, and sometimes complicated, journey in music, building bridges through songwriting, navigating relationships, making bilingual R&B and what’s to come for her in 2019.

FIERCE: You come from a music household. Your mother is a vocalist. You yourself started singing at three years old, soon picking up the guitar, and often performed for your family, particularly your late sister and your father, who also passed away. My condolences. Talk to me about your relationship with music growing up and what it did for you as you went through these devastating moments?

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keep takin it eaaasy…

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Ginette Claudette: Music has always been there to distract me, to take me somewhere without moving. It’s taught me how to cope with anything and everything I’ve ever faced. I’m going to always make it.

FIERCE: When did singing go from being a pastime you enjoyed and found comfort and healing in to something you saw yourself doing professionally?

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birthday girl ????

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Ginette Claudette: I knew I wanted to sing forever. I was exposed to music early. At three-years-old, I remember singing with my mom. I was always so interested and connected to it. There’s even this kindergarten project where I remember that we had to draw ourselves as we saw in the future and it was right there … a star! This exists now somewhere in my mom’s closet.

FIERCE: You grew up in a Dominican home in the Heights, which, of course, is straight dominicano y caribe. What sort of music was playing around you and what kind of influence do you think this has had on your R&B style today, if any?

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Love you, mean it.

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Ginette Claudette: My house was full of eclectic music. My mother sang Latin music and listened to it all day, so I was always exposed to my Latina culture growing up: Selena, Cristian Castro, Juan Gabriel and more. My dad would take me to Tower Records to get karaoke CDs with Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion on them, which taught me all about my divas. My older sister was in her pre-teens and listened to everything cool: TLC, Aaliyah, Brandy, Lauryn Hill. She put me on to all the R&B that’s molded me and my sound today. I fell in love with it. Then coming into my own in the early 2000s with Britney, Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, Nsync, Destiny’s Child, Alicia Keys, J. Lo and the whole Murder Inc. era! R&B was so ill during that time. Honestly, all that makes the pot and more!

FIERCE: Those were definitely some good times, haha! You really came into the music scene in about 2014 with Tainted Emotions, and then took somewhat of a three-year hiatus. Why? What were you doing during this time?

Ginette Claudette: The year 2014 wasn’t necessarily the start of my career. The first time I walked into a label meeting I was 11, so I’ve kind of been on the journey my whole life. I signed to Universal Motown in 2010 and things didn’t pan out. Tainted Emotions was the project that helped me begin to find myself sonically and emotionally during that time. All my projects serve that purpose and end up being portals for me that help me step into the next. After Tainted Emotions, in 2015, I put out an EP titled All the Way Back that did the same thing for me – it helped me better understand myself, my music and everything in between. After ATWB, I just felt mentally exhausted. At that point, I was years and years into the grind and I just needed to get re-inspired. I moved back to the East Coast from LA and started making music at home. I started opening up more not only to myself, but in the music. It took time, but that’s what led me to On To Something. A clear depiction of where I’m at right this second. It’s always evolving, and I can’t wait for the next chapter. That’s the fun part!

FIERCE: You dropped On To Something, which I’ve really been enjoying, in November 2018. In an interview with SingersRoom, you said that through this album you were able to “unapologetically say what I wanted while disregarding the outside pressures that I’ve faced for so long.” What do you mean by that?

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tell me somethin…

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Ginette Claudette: On to Something is such a special project. Some of these songs are just word vomit arranged so beautifully. I, like everybody else, am in my head a lot of the time. I let go of a lot on this project. What I meant in the Singersroom interview was that on this project, I was really writing for me. I was just saying what I felt and letting my thoughts and my feelings take the wheel. I think in doing that I found my sweet spot. At this point, I’m not here to impress anybody. I just want to make my music.

FIERCE: How do you think music allows you to delve into feelings, topics or conversations, whether with yourself or someone else, that might be otherwise difficult?

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happy hunting, Sebastian ????

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Ginette Claudette: The music builds a bridge, between me and myself, between me and other people, between me and the world. In the past, I’ve had fears about opening up, and I still do sometimes, but I’ve come to realize that the only way to get through things is to get through them. You can’t suppress or find a way around your feelings. They eventually make their way out. I’m lucky I’ve always been able to dive in heart first into some chords and melody. The fact that people can relate, major bonus.

FIERCE: One theme I picked up on throughout this project was past love. In “True” and “Twisted,” for example, you sing about longing to rekindle things with an ex. I think this is a common dilemma for young women. How do you decipher if a former romance is, as you say on this project, the “Real Thing” or if you’re just falling back into costumbre?

Ginette Claudette: Everything’s like a nostalgic movie to me! Super amplified emotions create the best music. Maybe it’s just a thing with somebody and it’s not that deep, maybe it is because I can’t stop thinking about them. Either way, it made its way out and into the music, so it’s got to mean something. It’s our job to decipher through those things as best we can. You never really know, but I think life’s about taking chances and leading with your heart.

FIERCE: I want to get back to the music. One thing you did on this EP, and you did it in previous projects as well, was drop a Spanish version of one of your songs, in this case “Twisted.” Why do this?

Ginette Claudette: I just like for people who aren’t familiar with me to know where I come from. To know that Latin music, that’s in me, too. It’s not intentional but certain songs like “The Only” and “Twisted,” they came to me in Spanish, too, and I was like, “oh, we’re doing this!” I just go with it.

FIERCE: Kali Uchis and Chilean newcomer Paloma Mami, who we featured last week, have also oscillated between English and Spanish in their music, which still remains pretty rare for R&B, even though I feel a lot of first and second-generation Latinxs are really craving this. Can we expect more of this from you?

Ginette Claudette: I’ll always make it a point to let people know how proud I am to be a Dominican girl for Uptown, New York. It’s a big part of who I am, so yes. I got plans to delve in more into Spanish music, too.

FIERCE: Talking about what’s to come, it’s the start of 2019, a new year, what can we expect from Ginette Claudette?

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I heard I’m boutta drop new music ????

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Ginette Claudette: Now that On To Something is out and I’ve given that part of me to people, I really want to take it a step further and get out there and tour with the music. My favorite thing to do in the end is to sing and connect with people, to make a memory. I’m also excited to jump back into the creative process on the new music. Yes, I’m already working on new music! It never stops. I joke around sometimes, but I think there’s truth to this, music is a blessing and a curse, like loving something/someone that also hurts you. I call it a ball and chain sometimes. The music “industry” is the ball and chain part. The things I’ve had to navigate through as a young woman chasing a dream out here haven’t been easy, but that doesn’t stop my grind. And it gets better and better!

FIERCE: What do you hope people can say of Ginette Claudette in five to ten years?

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NYC you got my ❤️ forever

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Ginette Claudette: Five or 10 years from now, I hope that I inspired people to never give up on their dreams, whatever they may be.

Check out “Love Me Back,” Ginette Claudette’s latest single, below:

Read: Up Next: Chilena Paloma Mami Is Making Jams For Girls Who Refuse To Settle

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

No Pos Wow

The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

There’s no denying that the world looks a lot different now than it did in 1947. And while the list of all of the positive changes that the decades stretching between now and then have done for the world and minorities, a recent campaign is also highlighting the ways in which our current president could take some notes on certain values the United States held dear during this time. Particularly ones that had been pressed for by one of our former presidents.

As part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” effort, he worked to promote positive and healthy relations between the United States in Latin American countries.

At the time Rooseveltaimed to ensure that the North, Central and South American countries avoided breaking under the influence of Axis countries during World War II. As part of this campaign, Roosevelt comissioned a Spanish and a Portuguese version of the U.S. national anthem. According to Time Magazine he also “recruited Hollywood to participate in this Good Neighbor Policy; Walt Disney went on goodwill tour of South America, hoping to find a new market for his films, and ended up producing two movies inspired by the trip: Saludos Amigos (1942) and The Three Caballeros (1944). The Brazilian star Carmen Miranda also got a boost, and her role in The Gang’s All Here made her even more famous in the U.S. And alongside these cross-cultural exchanges, the U.S. government decided it needed an anthem that could reach Spanish speakers.”

According to NPR, Clotilde Arias, wrote wrote the translation at the end of World War II, was born in the small Peruvian city, Iquitos in 1901 and moved to New York City to become a composer when she was 22-years-old. Her version of the anthem is now part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Now in an effort to support Latino communities affected by the coronavirus, the non-profit We Are All Human Foundation’s Hispanic Star campaign commissioned the a remake of the song.

Hoping to raise awareness of its Hispanic Recovery Plan and efforts to help to connect Hispanic small businesses and workers with resources during the pandemic, the campaign brought the old recording from obscurity.

For the song, the 2019 winner of the singing competition La Voz,  Jeidimar Rijos, performed “El Pendón Estrellado.” Or, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

The song has already received quite a bit of comments and support on Youtube.

Hang in there, fam. We can only get through this together.

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These Online Botanicas Will Satisfy The Bruja In You


These Online Botanicas Will Satisfy The Bruja In You

With young Latinxs reclaiming the bruja identity, the demand for access to novenas, herbs and other specially crafted ritual tools has grown tremendously. Luckily, these Latinx-owned online botanicas have made it easy for brujas, or anyone who wants to dive deeper into the practice, to get their hands on the goods. Whether you’re looking to conjure up more cash flow or secure some extra protection from those pesky mal de ojos, these shops have the magia you need.

1. The Flowerchild Bruja

You know you’ve received some real tesoro when you open your delivery and see the holographic cellophane. Unmistakable and unique products are what make The Flowerchild Bruja’s shop un cielo de flores. Garden Smudge Sticks adorned with colorful flowers and loose herbs packaged in clear hearts make this online botanica a must-visit if you’re looking to manifest more love and beauty into your life.

2. Brooklyn Brujeria

No forlorn-looking saints and pale stricken Marys here! Brookyn Brujeria offers a fresh and modern take on the classic bruja necessity of novena candles. At $10 a candle, you can enhance the vibrations and style of your space without blowing all your chavo. With intentions like Boss Bitch and F*ck Outta Here, these ain’t your abuelitas’ novenas.

3. The Hoodwitch Store

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Thank you for all of your love & support to those who have been readers and customers of @thehoodwitch over the years. ♥️You know truly how hard I work and that this is my livelihood and culture. Visual art and magic ARE my life and practice. Not a peach flavored “turquoise” glitter drink. My magic is in my blood, my magic is in my ability to bring life to my visions, it is creation & destruction. Over the last 6 years, I have been so honored and lucky to be featured in some of the largest media publications internationally not limited to Instagram. This is bigger than that and the creative team for Starbucks knew that. I have personally worked on consulting large companies in their design concepts this work comes naturally to me. “So what’s the big fuss?” My personal style has become synonymous with the visual aesthetic of my brand. No, I absolutely did not “invent” the crystal balls nor acrylic nails but What I created was a space for myself along with other POC to feel represented and have visual imagery that was representative of us. The colorful candles of my local botanicas, my gold jewelry, and my long nails clutching my crystals are certainly not “new” but to see them presented in a manner that I shared visually in this space was. Katherine de Vos Devine @devosdevine is a lawyer and art historian who wrote a powerful and insightful look as to what exactly is happening with this situation and we are sharing it in our story today because more than anything she truly gives the full tea of the situation. I can strip away the crystal balls, the nail art, and delete all of my beautifully curated photos but I will always be me, I will always be my grandmother’s voices and wisdom. I will create, and I will always know my value and my worth. I trust and believe that my ancestors and my guides are looking after me. These giants may have the money to bully artists, creatives, and small business but we know the truth and absolutely must not allow it. As a small business owner, I appreciate you standing with us in this uphill journey and even if it goes nowhere, at the end of the day I can laugh to myself knowing that Starbucks made a drink inspired by HW 🔮

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If you’re in the market for an obsidian scrying mirror, unique tarot decks or nail polish for your mystic manos, then The Hoodwitch Store is your one-stop bruja shop. Be sure to also check out the Bruja Bookshop tab, where you’ll find vintage, one-of-a-kind libros to up your witchy wisdom. The shop offers some rare finds en español as well. However, make sure you stay up to date on the latest inventory. These goods sell out fast!

4. House of Intuition

If you live in LA, you’ve most likely heard of House of Intuition. With four brick and mortar stores throughout the area, plus an online shop, it’s probably a wise investment to grab one of their “Success” intention candles. Their beautifully colored novenas aren’t the only reason to check out the shop, though. Seriously, this casa is staked with everything from crystals skulls, cauldrons and wands to a line called “Hair Mystics” featuring crystal-infused hair mists. You’ll be glad your intuition led you here.  

5. Lunar Magic Shop

Lunar Magic Shop is the super affordable and super thoughtful shop with some of our favorite bruja apparel. You will for sure want to grab the “My Mom Will Hex You” tee for the little one in your life or the “I Am My Own Sacred Place” one for yourself. While you’re at it, you might as well secure the “Motherhood”and “Student” crystal kit bags. This small shop definitely has the whole family’s brujeria needs in mind.

6. Curandera Press

While this shop is currently taking a small hiatus, they will re-launch on August 1. This gives us time to save up for a big vela haul. We could all use some divine intervention with lazy lovers and bad hair days, right? With Curandera Press’ “No Mas Amante Perezoso” and “Good Hair Day” velas, your prayers are answered. We’re excited to see what intentions they roll out next.

Read: In These Trying Times, Boricua Bruja Emilia Ortiz Provides A Digital Space For Healing

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