Up Next: Meet Juani, The Soulful New York Boricua Inspiring You To Never Give Up On Yourself

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

Rhythm and blues has returned to the main stage thanks to exciting young acts breathing a refreshing spirit into the genre. Among them: Juani. The Puerto Rican-born singer was raised in church, and the influence of gospel music is evident in her soul-stirring pop ballads, which, unlike her contemporaries, deal more with self-love than romantic affection.

“There’s a void where my heart once lived. No longer whole, I’m separated,” Juani, born Juanialys Corsino, sings in “Broken,” a song inspiring those who feel shattered, perhaps because of a breakup, to not let their heartache and depression claim their lives and, instead, seek the help they need to feel whole again.

“Music is a way of healing, and it’s a big tool that can be used to move forward in life. I want to use my platform to entertain, inspire and help people,” the 18-year-old Queens, New York-based songstress told FIERCE.

We chatted with Juani about curative music, what she does when she feels broken, her big break on Showtime at the Apollo with Steve Harvey and her forthcoming EP, No Lane, among so much more.

Q: You’re just 18 years old and yet have this really mature warmth to your voice. When did you realize you could sing and that this was something you wanted to pursue?

A: I realized I could sing around age 7. When my parents seperated, I would sing to their voicemails. It was a way for me to cope. I’ve always loved music, even as a little girl. It runs in my family. We sing or play an instrument. We just love music; it’s in our DNA. But I really started singing in church, especially when I lived with my grandmother in Massachusetts. It didn’t turn into something that could have been professional until I moved to New York my junior year of high school to live with my parents. I saw the opportunities coming my way, and I realized this could be something. I really started to believe in myself. After I had my first radio interview in 2016, it made it official for me: singing is what I wanted to do.

Q: You grew up in Orlando, Massachusetts and Harlem, areas with vast Latinx and Caribbean populations. What sort of music was playing around you and what kind of influence do you think this has had on your pop soul style today?

A: It was mostly gospel, to be honest. Most of my family is involved in church. But I also heard a lot of R&B growing up, especially Alicia Keys and Beyoncé. But I was really raised on gospel, and I believe that’s where my soul comes from.

Q: Who are your biggest musical inspirations?

A: I like to say if Beyoncé and Rihanna had a baby, then that would be me. But I do have male role models as well, particularly John Legend and Chance the Rapper. I know Chance doesn’t sing, but I enjoy his story and how he goes about his music. Tori Kelly just came out with her gospel album also. I really don’t have a person I idolize. I just follow people. I admire their paths. But it fluctuates because there’s new talent every day.

Q: When you were 16 years old, you landed a spot on Showtime at the Apollo with Steve Harvey. What was that like?

A: That was super, super exciting. People ask me all the time if I was nervous. I don’t know if it was all the praying I did, but I wasn’t as nervous. I think the bigger the audience, the less nervous you get. You feel less judged when you see so many faces. You’re not just staring at like 10 people. I think the pressure is less demanding. It was a great audience. Glory to God I didn’t get booed. And it got me a lot of exposure. I got to meet Steve Harvey and a lot of different artists. It was super, really.

Q: On your YouTube channel, you publish videos of covers and original music. Most recently, in September, you dropped “Broken,”  a song and video about heartbreak, depression and self-violence. Why did you want to explore these themes through your music?

A: It’s a great message that should be out there. To be honest, with everything going on in the world right now, I don’t think we are speaking about these things enough. Music is a way of healing, and it’s a big tool that can be used to move forward in life. I want to use my platform to entertain, inspire and help people, and if that’s through music, then I will gladly do that as well.

Q: In moments when you’re feeling broken, at a low that feels impossible to overcome, what do you do?

A: I pray — that’s my go-to. I grew up with gospel music, so gospel music to me is a way to connect and heal as well. But not just gospel, music in general can be healing. It helps you get things out. I’m also very close with my mom, so I’m able to talk with her about things. When I feel low, she gives me words of encouragement. I encourage others to find that one person they can go to. Maybe it’s their mom or maybe it’s not, but identify that person.

Q: What role do you think music can play in healing and self-care?

A: Wow! It helps mentally and emotionally, and, if you listen to it while you work out, physically, too. Music is healing. It’s emotional. It can heal you through broken times or it can lift your spirit, but only if you allow it to. People tend to close off people in general when they need help, and we can do that with music as well. Sometimes life is so hard you don’t want to open up to anything; you don’t want to feel. But you need to, and music can be an easier way to open up. It’s not a person. No one is going to judge you. Allow music and lyrics to speak to you, and you can find healing in it.

Q: I love that! You’re an independent artist, managed by your mother, and yet you have tens of thousands of followers and are booking shows throughout New York City. What are some of the barriers and benefits that come with being independent?

A: Let’s start with the cons. Financially, it can be very hard having to do it on your own, but that can also be a pro, managing your own stuff. When you’re with a label, they help you a lot but that can mean you don’t land the best deal and you end up in debt later on. Another pro is having my mom as my manager, having someone I can trust. Also having free will and not having so many says in your project. Being independent is pretty popular in the music industry right now. We are realizing we can do it on our own as long as we have the numbers. Back then, if you signed to a label, that was your biggest accomplishment, and it’s still great, but media has changed so much that we can do it on our own. If you put your mind to it, know how to work social media and work hard on your music, it’ll get acknowledged whether you’re signed or independent.

Q: And being independent offers you creative freedom. What are some styles, genres or subjects you’d like to explore but haven’t yet?

A: I’ve done Spanish pop already, but I want to do merengue or bachata. I do like acting and modeling as well. Recently, I’ve been more focused on music, but I do want to touch base on those other forms of art as well. I also love style, so I want to get merch going soon. Honestly, I would love to open a store, too. I have a lot of dreams. Even with music, I don’t see myself in one lane. I’ve done ballads and Spanish, but that’s never going to be enough. I want to continue to be able to explore with my music. I want to do all types of music.

Q: What are some projects you are working on and when can we expect to hear or see them?

A: Right now, I’m working on an EP called No Lane. It’s about being free and doing whatever my heart feels like doing in that moment. It’s about five or six songs, and I plan to drop it by the end of the year. I don’t have a concrete date right now because there are so many other things being presented to me at the moment. I’m trying to find balance, but I do know that No Lane is my next move.

Q: You’re 18 years old, at the start of your career. In a few years, what do you hope the people can say about Juani?

A: That I’m hard-working, that I earned this and that they’re inspired and want to go after their own dreams as well. I want to be Beyoncé No. 2, and I want them to be buying a ticket, girl, front-row!

Check out more from Juani below!

Read: Up Next: Meet Girl Ultra, The Mexican Baby Girl Of R&B En Español

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Video Dug Up From Cardi B’s Past Shows Her Saying She Used To Drug And Rob Men


Video Dug Up From Cardi B’s Past Shows Her Saying She Used To Drug And Rob Men

Stay grateful you did not grow up in the era of Snapchat/ Instagram/ Facebook kids because you can delete but your recorded actions can still come back to bite. Cardi B knows the story. While the Afro-Latina queen of Trap isn’ making any apologies, the latest video to be dug up from her past is requiring her to give some answers.

Video of the singer, recalling a time in her life in which she felt forced to drug and rob men while seducing them has resurfaced.

Over the weekend, video of the “Money” rapper recalling how she used to drug and rob men resurfaced.

The video, which was recorded during an Instagram live broadcast, sees Cardi as she goes on a tearful verbal tirade about her past. This after, someone apparently questioned her success and accused her of not “putting in no fucking work.”

“I had to go ‘oh yeah, you wanna fuck me? Yeah yeah yeah let’s go to this hotel.’ And then I’d drug [expletivie] up and I’d rob them. That’s what I used to do.”

Users online were quick to comment.

“The fact that cardi b admitted to drugging and robbing men she would take back to a hotel for sex blows my mind,” wrote Twitter user @itsangelaa. “That’s not ‘keeping it real.’ that’s a crime.”

“I wonder what woulda happened if it were the other way round,” @BTSisthecauseo5 commented.

At the onset of the backlash, the rapper seemed to take the comments rather lightly.

The following day she also tweeted “IM THAT BITCH THEY LOVE TO HATE, IM THAT BITCH THEY HATE TO LOVE and I love it.”

On Tuesday, however, after users on Instagram and Twitter continued to simmer, she was forced to issue comment.


In a post to her Instagram, the rapper responded to the comments about the video by saying: “I’m a part of a hip hop culture where you can talk about where you come from talk about the wrong things you had to do to get where you are.”

Read:After Two Parkland Students Commit Suicide, Community Unites To Share Mental Health Resources

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Up Next: Meet Katalina, The Colombian Funny Girl-Turned-Pop Singer You Need To Know


Up Next: Meet Katalina, The Colombian Funny Girl-Turned-Pop Singer You Need To Know

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

Katalina is used to the spotlight. For years, the colombiana has cultivated an audience of millions on Instagram with her hilarious short videos about relationships and womanhood. But now, the social media influencer-turned-singer is using her mic to explore these themes.

Debuting her first song, “Sacude,” a carefree pop-urban dance jam, last November, the Miami-living entertainer followed up this month with the heartbreaking ballad “Adios” featuring Cuban-American singer JenCarlos Canela, showing her musical versatility.

“With me, there will definitely be both. This is something I think I have been very clear about,” Katalina, 27, told FIERCE. “I feel that music is more free now and you do not have to limit yourself to only one genre. I like challenges and I dislike routine, so you can always expect a mix.”

We chatted with the rising star about her lifelong love of singing, transitioning from social media influencer to music artist, saying goodbye to loved ones and what to expect from the beauty in the months that follow.

FIERCE: Most people who are familiar with Katalina know you as a social media influencer with hilarious videos, but last year you took the leap into music. Why?

Katalina: I have always liked to sing. I come from a very musical and talented family, but we always practiced it as a hobby. A year ago, I gave myself the opportunity to develop it professionally with my manager, Kito Sunshine, and I am totally grateful and in love with this. Music is what I love the most — it frees me.

FIERCE: Was this shift from social media influencer to singer strategic? Did you know you always wanted to sing and saw social media as an avenue to build your popularity and get you there or was this an unexpected but welcomed outcome?

Katalina: Since I was a little girl, I have known that I liked to sing and play the piano. From 9 to 11 years old, I sang in the choir of a church when I lived in Colombia, and for me it was something magical, so I’ve always known it. As far as social media, I entered by accident, but from the first day, I enjoyed the opportunity to reach so many people and show them my musical side as well. It was not a strategy. I did not upload many videos singing, but people motivated me more and more to try to develop music professionally, so I gave myself the opportunity, and, well, here we are.

FIERCE: But you’re not just a pretty girl with a following who is trying to use her fame to dabble in something she has no business doing. You are talented! Still, several social media influencers have attempted to break into music, some like Cardi B and Jenn Morel finding success, but others not so much, oftentimes not because they lack talent but rather because they’re not taken as seriously. What has this transition been like for you?

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Katalina: It is a bit difficult for people to see social influencers in another facet that they are not used to, but, in my case, I always showed them that musical side, so it was not totally a surprise. The same people asked me and the reception was very special. I hope to reach many people with my music.

FIERCE: As you stated, you have been passionate about singing and playing the piano since you were a child. What sort of music did you grow up listening to and how do you think it’s influenced your Latin pop sound today?

Katalina: I grew up listening to a lot of pop and ballads. My mom always listened to this music, so she did influence me a lot. I remember locking myself in my room and practicing these songs all the time. I still do this.

FIERCE: Colombian music is having a major global moment right now. What do you think you bring to the game that’s different and helps you stand out among the rest?

Katalina: Together with my work team we are creating our own seal. Our sounds are different and the vocal arrangements are unique to what we want to project. We are focused on the urban wave but keeping my romantic side.

FIERCE: I can see that for sure! You recently released “Adios,” a ballad featuring Cuban-American artist Jencarlos Canela about saying goodbye to an ex-love with the hope of returning to each other again in the end. This is very relatable because a lot of times during breakups there’s this hope that time away will bring you two back together. Sometimes it’s because the couple really is good for each other, but other times it’s just a matter of costumbre. How do you, Katalina, decipher between the two?

Katalina: Saying goodbye is always going to be difficult, either out of love or habit. I think that if you are with someone just out of habit and not because you love him, it is better to say goodbye definitely. “Adios,” to me, has another meaning. Beyond the circumstances for which you have had to say goodbye to your ex-partner, it is the goodbye that makes your heart hurt. It’s the memories of the shared moments that make you miss a person and want to have them again, that’s “Adios.”.

FIERCE: In the music video, the song took on new meaning. It wasn’t just about an ex but about losing someone you love to death and never being able to be with them again. Why did you all want to dedicate this song and video to those who lost their partners?

Katalina: These are very common situations in all of our lives. The message also has to do with those who have lost a loved one, not just their partner. In my case, I recently lost my grandmother suddenly, who was a mother to me, and, for this reason, I, and many others, can identify with this video.

FIERCE: I’m so sorry to hear that! And I think you’re right. The video really extends to loss outside of romantic relationships. We are in an era of collaborations, especially for Latin music, and in this song, your and Jencarlos’ voices blend very beautifully. Tell me, who are some of your other dream collaborations?

Katalina: I’ve always believed you find strength in unity, so working in a team, to me, is a very wise decision. I have a long list, but I’d want to start with artists like Natti Natasha, Karol G, Becky G, Ivy Queen, Cardi B — these are strong women and great examples of what it means to be an empowering woman. Also, J Balvin, Daddy Yankee and others. They are artists with careers worthy of admiration.

FIERCE: I know you’ve been working on a lot of music for this year. What can you tell us is in store for Katalina in 2019?

Katalina: There are incredible songs written by international composers. I will also have my debut as a songwriter in a song that I think people will really identify with.

FIERCE: Can we expect more ballads like “Adios” or more dance songs like “Sacude” or a mix of genres?

Katalina: With me, there will definitely be both. This is something I think I have been very clear about. I feel that music is more free now and you do not have to limit yourself to only one genre. I like challenges and I dislike routine, so you can always expect a mix.

FIERCE: You are so young, at the start of your career, what do you hope people can say about Katalina in 10 to 15 years?

Katalina: My dream is to become an icon in music worldwide. I would love for people to say that I inspired them to fulfill their dreams, that I helped empower other women, that my life has been a great example of triumph. In 10 to 15 years, with the help of God, I will leave my mark throughout the planet.

Watch Katalina’s latest single, “Adios,” below:

Read: Up Next: Meet Victoria La Mala, The Mexican Badass Empowering Women With Urban-Banda Jams

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