A direct descendent of Cuban singers Elena Burke and Marlena Burke -- her grandmother and mother, respectively -- as well as daughter of producer Rey Nerio, Lena Pérez knew from an early age that she wanted to be a musician. Born in Havana, Lena took both guitar and classical piano lessons as a child, finding that her true love lay in the latter. Also interested in voice, she perfected her skills singing backup on albums for artists like Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez, Thalía, Jaci Velasquez, Chayanne, and Alejandro Sanz. Despite her familial connections, it was meeting with the latter, however, that set her career as a singer and performer into motion. Sanz was so impressed with the songs Lena sang for him that he introduced her to the people at Warner Music Latina, who soon signed the young Cuban. In 2005 her self-titled debut came out, followed by a tour that spanned much of Latin America as well as part of Europe. A couple of years later she starred in La Mala, a biopic of legendary Cuban singer La Lupe, for which she also recorded all the songs. A soundtrack album was released in 2008. In 2010 she teamed up with Spanish singer Alex Ubago and Colombian Jorge Villamizar, formerly of Bacilos, for the project Alex, Jorge y Lena.
© Marisa Brown /TiVo
© Marisa Brown /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 28, 2010 | USFO
My Cassette Player, the full-length album debut by Eurovision Song Contest winner Lena, includes her international chart-topping hit single "Satellite" and several other songs that will be familiar to those who followed her rise to fame on the German television show Unser Star für Oslo. Produced by hitmaker Stefan Raab, who co-wrote the majority of the songs with Lena, My Cassette Player is a relatively straightforward pop album that doesn't rely on the novelty appeal of most Eurovision debut efforts. The style of the album seems to be modeled after one of Lena's favorite contemporary artists, British pop star Kate Nash. Lena covered two of Nash's songs on Unser Star für Oslo ("Foundations," "Mouthwash"), and though neither shows up here on My Cassette Player, there are covers of rival British pop stars Ellie Goulding ("Not Following") and Adele ("My Same"). To be sure, there's no shortage of contemporary singer/songwriters in the same British pop camp as Nash, Goulding, and Adele. However, Lena is unique in that she's an 18-year-old Eurovision winner, which makes her something of a product rather than an artist, and she's also unique in that she's a German who sings in English with a distinctively British accent. In a way, this makes My Cassette Player seem artificial. After all, why listen to an 18-year-old German television celebrity sing British pop when there's an abundance of the real thing readily available? On the other hand, it makes for a curious listen and makes you realize how English-language pop music has become truly global in scale. The question of authenticity aside, there's no debating that there are some good songs on My Cassette Player and that Lena won the Eurovision Song Contest for good reason, not least of all because she's smart and sassy. The primary album highlights are "Satellite" and "Bee," two of the three songs that won Lena first place on Unser Star für Oslo. The accompanying Raab-produced material isn't quite as memorable as those ready-made hits, particularly in lyrical terms, but it's appealing all the same, above all "My Cassette Player," "I Like to Bang My Head," and "Touch a New Day." It remains to be seen whether Lena can develop into a bona fide singer/songwriter in the mold of her idols. In the meantime, she's proven herself to be one of the more substantial Eurovision winners in recent memory. © Jason Birchmeier /TiVo