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Band Pop Latin


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The best kept secret in music


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Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Singer-songwriter Yolanda believes she’s found just the right musical setting for her soulful, expressive voice. Her newest tracks blend catchy pop melodies with pulsating Latin grooves, hip-hop beats and scorching guitar.

“I’ve always loved singing pop music,” she declares. “But I’ve also always wanted my songs to reflect where I come from as a Latina. The music I’m making now brings those elements together. It’s the sound I’ve been hearing in my head for a long time.”

With songs like “Vive Come Quieres,” “What a Woman Wants,” “Beautiful for You” and “Loca,” the vocalist is at last bringing that sound into the world – an exuberant blend of radio-ready hooks, rock energy and Latin vibe. “This is my direction,” she insists. “I connected with a great team and worked hard to get exactly what I wanted.”

The path to this point has been a twisty one for the California native. Born to Mexican-American parents in San Jose, Yolanda demonstrated talent as a dancer by age seven and began taking lessons. “I didn’t come from a musical background,” she says, “but my family really supported me.” Relentless instruction in ballet, jazz, and tap led to private lessons and eventually to her participation in events like the California County and State Talent Competitions. “That’s really where I spent my childhood – competing and performing for my community,” she recalls.

Her dance teacher suggested she try a song-and-dance routine, and she began taking singing lessons. “Until then I’d always wanted to be a dancer,” she notes. “But all that changed when I started singing at around age 12. A different side of me was opening up. I’d always been shy and reserved, but I turned into a different person when I sang. There’s something powerful about expressing yourself in song.”

She was still in high school when she decided on her path. “At that time, I wanted to be a professional singer-songwriter, but I just had no clue how to go after it,” she says.

One of her competition performances caught the attention of a dance-music producer, who expressed an interest in working with her. Their work together led Yolanda to another production team, which resulted in her first single, “Together Forever.”

The track, released independently, earned abundant airplay on KYLD (Wild 94.9) San Francisco, and was featured on the station’s “Make It or Break It, ” hosted by JoJo On The Radio now at L.A.’s KIIS-FM. It was eventually added into rotation and hit the #11 spot; other stations around the country soon jumped on the bandwagon. At age 17, the singer began playing larger shows, including an event at the San Jose Arena in front of 20,000 people.

With the single demonstrating her potential and crowds clamoring for more, Yolanda sought out new producers and began creating fresh material. “We worked hard for a long time, but it didn’t quite click,” she remembers. “The songs just weren’t where I needed them to be at that point in my career. By then, things had come to a standstill – and dance music wasn’t getting much airplay anywhere.”

Disappointed but not discouraged, Yolanda refocused herself. “It was a frustrating time,” she points out. “It made me question myself: ‘Is this what I should be doing?’ During this time I had a fulltime job and was going to college. But people who heard my music would always say, ‘What are you doing here? Go follow your dream!’”

In late 2002 she made a fateful decision – to pack up and leave for Los Angeles. “It was a real wake-up call after San Jose,” she says, “because I was suddenly a little fish in a huge pond. But it really didn’t matter, because I knew this was what I came here to do – to make great music and become the best artist I could be. That’s what really mattered.”

Enthralled by the Latin pop explosion, Yolanda once again looked for collaborators. She eventually met producer Ron Cohen, a two-time Emmy Award winner who embraced her vision of Latin-flavored, funky pop with a rock edge. “He introduced me to Ozomatli’s music, a Grammy award-winning Latin rock band that totally inspired me to write “Vive Como Quieres,” she says. “When I listened to Ozomatli’s music and heard Jabu, vocalist/rapper of the band, I knew that we needed to have him featured on this track somehow. I basically walked up to Jabu at an Ozomatli concert after party and handed him a CD of the track,” she recalls laughing. As a result, in between their hectic summer tour, Jabu joined Yolanda in the studio and ended up laying down vocals for two tracks, “Vive Como Quieres” and “Don’t Tell Me,” adding a sly counterpoint to Yolanda’s impassioned vocals.

The singer’s focus has caused her to weigh in on every aspect of her new recordings. “It’s very important for me to be involved not only in the writing process but also the production, mixing and mastering,” she says. “Ron and I work really hard to find the right balance when creating our music.”

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