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Bilingual singer/songwriter Soraya experienced a series of ups and downs over the course of her career, resulting in a catalog of music that chronicles that journey in all its glory and struggle. Born in Point Pleasant, NJ, in 1969 to Colombian parents who had immigrated from Lebanon, her career got off to a smashing start in 1996 with the release of a pair of hit-laden albums: En Esta Noche and On Nights Like This, the latter an English-language version of the former. In particular, "De Repente" was a huge international hit and would remain her signature tune for years. She followed this success with a pair of albums -- Torre de Marfil (1997) and Cuerpo y Alma (2000) -- that saw her popularity erode steadily, though these albums were anything but poor, expanding her style to incorporate a broader palette, most notably a tinge of worldbeat flourishes. These albums had their share of hits, too, but none on a par with the international recognition of "De Repente." This brought her contract with Universal Music Latino to an end, and she left the label, signing instead to EMI. During this transition, Soraya waged a life-threatening battle with breast cancer, one that would inform her debut album for EMI, Soraya (2003). This self-titled album ushered her back to international fame, spawning the number one hit "Casi" and earning her a Latin Grammy. With her popularity returned to peak level, she recorded the follow-up in her native Colombia. That album, El Otro Lado de Mi (2005), was a more complex and rocking one than her previous effort, yet it too was met with substantial commercial success, scoring a big hit with "Llevame." Around this time Universal was busy releasing numerous compilations of her tenure there, further adding to an already impressive catalog. Sadly, Soraya lost her battle with cancer on May 10, 2006, at age 37, concluding her life and musical accomplishments prematurely (Herencia, a best-of collection, was released posthumously that same year). In the wake of her departure, she was remembered not only as a major Latin artist but also as an advocate for breast cancer awareness. Her activism was well noted and deemed admirable.
© Jason Birchmeier /TiVo
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