When New Jersey-bred Dominican singer Kat DeLuna dubbed her debut album 9 Lives (GMB/Epic Records), she had no idea how prophetic that title would prove to be. Two years after she strutted into the limelight with her tropical-flavored, gold-certified single "Whine Up," featuring Jamaican reggae star Elephant Man, DeLuna has undergone a personal and artistic rebirth. Now signed to Universal Motown Records, the 21-year-old performer is reemerging with a surprisingly daring, refreshingly innovative techno-, dance- and rock-infused pop sound that allows her to flaunt her operatic vocal range wh ile still churning out catchy, universally relatable, feel-good cuts. Ever the trendsetter, DeLuna is also experimenting with a bolder, edgier, sexier look that attests to her unfettered confidence and fearless attitude.
"Dance, Bailalo", the lead single from her upcoming sophomore album "Inside Out" (GMB/Universal Motown) demonstrates DeLuna's innovative new sound by blending tropical samba rhythms with new school dance melodies. This infectious combination paired with her seductive lyrics lure listeners to let loose and hit the dance floor hard. Celebrity Gossip Star/Blogger Perez Hilton deemed "Dance, Bailalo" a "Summer Anthem" adding "(Dance, Bailalo is) one of the most scorching dance singles we've heard all year!" DeLuna's brazen self-assurance permeates the track "Unstoppable," a teaser single released to fans. The anthem-like track, which features 2008's top-selling artist Lil Wayne, DeLuna challenges and even taunts naysayers, singing: "You can talk all you want, but my skin is really thick/I'm the leader of the pack, and my game is really slick/20I'm unstoppable." By displaying such a decidedly unapologetic, take-no-prisoners attitude, DeLuna lets audiences know she's got enough heart to withstand any criticisms, hiccups and obstacles she may encounter on the road to superstardom.
Not that ambitiousness and drive are new to the petite songstress, born Kathleen Emperatriz DeLuna in the Bronx, New York. When she was still an infant, her family relocated to the Dominican Republic, where they remained until DeLuna reach ed age 6. They then returned to the U.S., settling down in Newark, New Jersey. Even at that tender age, DeLuna displayed a keen interest in music, soaking in tunes by Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday, among others. Like any budding artist, she drew from her own experiences for inspiration, channeling her sorrow over her parents' impending divorce into the lyrics of her first original song, "Estoy Triste" (I Am Sad).
Her desire to perform intensified as the years passed. By the time she'd hit junior high, DeLuna had shared the stage with such Latin music heavyweights as merengue queen Millie Quezada and salsa superstar Marc Anthony. DeLuna was accepted into the New Jersey High school of Performing Arts, a prestigious academy that boasts Savion Glover, Tisha Campbell and Whitney Houston among its alumni. DeLuna trained as an opera singer, joining the school choir as a soprano and ceasing every opportunity to hone her craft. By age 14 deluna had appeared on national TV (41univision, NJN) for a national competition called "Imagines" sponsored by Celia Cruz and Tito Puente, in which talented children participate in singing, dancing, and instrument playing. DeLuna was crowned with 1st place both times she participated. At 15, she won first place at a Coca-Cola sponsored karaoke competition thanks to her powerful rendition of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." Salsa singer Rey Ruiz, who attended the event, encouraged DeLuna to write her own material and continue pursuing her dreams. She heeded Ruiz's advice, practicing her songwriting deal while plotting out her career plan. Soon thereafter, she signed with production label Global Music Brand and secured a deal with Epic Records, the label that released her breakout album 9 Lives, a Caribbean-flavored m lange of dancehall, pop, R&B and reggae tunes produced by RedOne and executive produced by Akon.
DeLuna garnered international attention thanks to the success of 9 Lives' "Whine Up," which was crowned the top-selling single on iTunes Latino in 2007. Once the single was certified gold, DeLuna made history as the first Dominican pop singer to cross over into the mainstream. The buzz only continued to build thanks to features in such marquis publications as Entertainment Weekly, Life and Style, Latina (for whom she graced the April 2008 cover), VIBE and USA Today. Aside from her fans' appreciation, DeLuna earned the respect of her peers, nabbing MTVtr3s's Best New Artist Award and scoring a Billboard Latin Music Award for Best Club Play Track of the Year ("Whine Up").
But that was only the beginning for this relentless performer, who is maturing and blossoming before the public's very eyes. With Inside Out, DeLuna offers a more multi-dimensional, nuanced portrayal of herself as both artist and woman and she does so without trepidation. She charms audiences with her playful brand of braggadocio on songs like the infectious, Middle Eastern-flavored "Put It On," with its seductive tambourines, sing-along chorus, retro synths and shattered glass sound effects. The title track, "Inside Out," finds DeLuna revealing her vulnerable side, channeling her heartbreak while belting out lyrics like, "Before I met you I was acting so hard/and now you got me wearing my heart/inside out." Meanwhile, on the techno-peppered, light-hearted club banger "Calling You," she urges listeners to hit the dance floor and rid themselves of any inhibitions, a motto by which she seems to be operating these days.
With a go-hard-or-go-home approach to her career and a more aggressive look and dynamic sound, DeLuna's formidable star power can't be eclipsed. Like a force of nature, she truly is unstoppable.
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