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Andre Veloz

Andre Veloz is a Dominican-born, Bronx-based bachatera and songwriter, pianist, painter, actor, and schoolteacher of students with special needs. She is a visible symbol of the transformation of bachata from an almost strictly male genre associated with "low culture" and "bad morals" since it started being recorded in 1962. In an interview, she said, "My country has a thing of wanting to whitewash our African past and the same with bachata. We want to whitewash our taste in music and not admit how much we enjoy it because it comes from the lowest rungs of society." In bachata, Leslie Grace, Jessy Rose, and Alexandra Cabrera of Monchy y Alexandra are a few of the most significant female artists in the 21st century, while Melinda Rodriguez and Aridia Ventura are legendary female singers whose careers spanned the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Few other women have experienced even limited success. Veloz, whose nickname is "La Fosforera" ("happy woman") is a proto feminist. Her songs unapologetically -- some would say militantly -- uplift women and offer political and social critiques of machismo and sexism. They are also about raw, female desire and empowerment. She has been singing bachata (at least to herself) since she was a child. With the release of her debut EP, 2014's Cabare Bachata, and subsequent singles, she has become a true force in Latin music with hundreds of thousands of fans following her every move on social media, in clubs, at festivals, and on playlists and videos. Veloz was born in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but was raised in the heart of bachata itself, Santiago, the capital of the Dominican heartland known as El Cibao. The stigma in the Dominican Republic at the time (and arguably still) around women singing bachata was dominant. As a pre-teen in her backyard, a popular bachata came on the radio. She had heard it before, was familiar with the lyrics, and was singing along. A friend of her mother's was visiting and heard her. The woman went into the yard and told her "little girls don't sing that music." Though her love of the form (at that time the music of Juan Luis Guerra in particular) continued, she kept it a secret -- for a time. Her biggest influences are Celia Cruz, Ella Fitzgerald, and Chicas del Can. At 14, she performed regularly with Horizontes Verticales, an experimental garage Rock en Español band she founded with her best friend. Three years later, she was singing professionally and performing regularly at jazz festivals and world music venues throughout the Dominican Republic. She also sang commercial jingles, and was a TV news anchor for a time. Her repertoire was anything but Dominican. As her fame spread, she had the opportunity to work with some of the most respected musicians in the Dominican Republic such as Xiomara Fortuna, Sandy Gabriel, Patricia Pereyra, Felle Vega, and Rafael Mirabal, among others. At 21 she moved to New York; the transition was brutal. She attended university, taught school, and worked a second job as a housekeeper. At night, she sang jazz, boleros, salsa, merengues, and other songs in clubs and, feeling nostalgia for her home country and her love of bachata, made the first steps toward becoming a bachatera. In 2013, a video of her singing "Si la Ves Bachata" attracted Iaso Records, which signed her. A year later she issued her debut digital EP Cabare Bachata. The recording resonated with critics as well as club DJs in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. In 2015, she collaborated with guitarist Joan Soriano on his Mi Decidi album, and scored hits with the singles "Bachata Llanto a La Luna," and "Veneno." She followed with her song "El Menor" on the compilation Los Trovadores Vol. 2 for TMP Records in 2017 and the single "Eta Que Ta Aquí," that got major airplay in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. In 2018, Veloz broke through with three singles, including "El Blues del Esclavo" and "Ay Lero Lero," which lit up playlists all over the globe. She is continuing her collaboration with Soriano while working on her debut album.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo


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