Ivy Queen is lone female voice of barrio realities for reggaeton
December 27, 2005
To stand out in the male-dominated reggaeton world, Ivy Queen said she needed to present a strong voice from the female perspective.
"God blessed me with a powerful voice. It is not feminine and not masculine. It is just a thick voice," Ivy Queen explained in her native Spanish during a tour stop in Los Angeles. "And there are about like 20 artists in reggaeton, and being the only female, I dedicated myself to finding or writing songs that put bad men in their place or speak up for the single mothers."
Ivy Queen's first big hit, Quiero Bailar, is included on her new hits collection CD, Flashback. In it she berates a lover who thinks that she will be intimate with him just because they dance together. On the new hit single Cuentale, Ivy Queen plays a mistress who tells her lover to choose between her and his wife.
"The mistress just gets tired of seeing him for a short time and listening to him complain about his unloving wife," Ivy Queen said. "Finally she tells him that he can't have it both ways."
Ivy Queen also plays tribute to Selena on a reggaeton cover of Si Una Vez. Ivy Queen said she specifically selected that song in keeping with her image of being outspoken and opinionated.
"Si Una Vez is the story of a woman who looks back at a lover and wonders why she ever loved the lout who abused her love," she said. "I identified with that song because it is more in line with who I am. I love songs like (Selena hits) La Carchacha and Como la Flor, but they are not what I am about."
But what if, as impossible as it might seem, there were no bad guys? "I would still be singing, like I do, about other realities, about life in the barrio. About not being able to get a job because you have tattoos or piercings. About growing up in a family where the parents are divorced and having no money, not even for bread, like I did, and having to care for younger siblings."
Ivy Queen said she counted Selena among her primary influences.
"I have always identified with strong women," Ivy Queen said. "I admired Selena because she had that famous crossover success, but sadly she never got to enjoy it. It was a sentimental favorite for me."
The late salsa pioneers Celia Cruz and La Lupe are also inspirations.
"They are the ones I draw strength from," Ivy Queen said. "But I also listen to many other artists like KC & Jo Jo, R. Kelly, Jennifer (Lopez), Fat Joe, Ana Gabriel, Marc Anthony."
On the future of reggaeton, Ivy Queen was blunt: "It seems to me reggaeton is like a virus right now. A lot of people think reggaeton is easy. There are a lot of people in it who really have nothing to do with it.
"But I have always believed there are a few real (reggaeton) soldiers who will survive because they are good singers and artists in every sense of the word. They are tireless workers."
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