Kat De Luna is urban pop's new prima donna - not in the me-me-me sense, but rather the do-re-mi sense. Her anthem "Whine Up," a techno-dappled dancehall summer smash featuring Elephant Man, conquered airwaves and dance floors across the nation, but cantatas and operas helped her cultivate those stunning five-octave first-soprano pipes. "I auditioned for performing arts high school, and I made it in," says De Luna. "When I [started] my first year, I was so happy, like, 'Yeah, we're gonna sing!' And they were like, 'Oh, you know it's opera, right?' Oh my god! I was all scared ... but when I finally got to learn opera, it sounded great. I embraced it and now it's part of me." At only 19 years old, the Dominican mini-diva with a thing for Mariah, Selena, Aretha, Juan Luis Guerra and personal icon Pavarotti is tailor-made for the top tier, an amalgam of opera legend Maria Callas' fire, Christina Aguilera's polished soul and the glitter of La Lopez. The peaks and valleys of her vocal range once inspired the nickname "Little Flute," but there's no doubt that De Luna is poised to be the next big thing.
After toiling for years to make it - even spending a few with the now-defunct girl group Coquette - she went double or nothing on her dream. "I never had a plan B. I always surrounded my life with the plan that I was going to become a big artist. So I had to literally adjust myself to knowing that. You know when you believe in something and it's more than a dream to you? That's how it was." While today The Secret's out, its will-it-to-win-it creed has always been one of De Luna's lifelong philosophies: "Anything is possible. Anything can be accomplished if you have your mind set on it," she says.
Born in the Bronx, partially raised in the Dominican Republic and bred in Newark, New Jersey, De Luna - a musical army brat of sorts - has kept the sounds of her many homes close to the heart on her recent debut 9 Lives. "Moving made me: the Bronx - hip-hop, the attitude. From the Dominican Republic, straight-up caribeña, bachata, merengue. In Newark, there's a lot of Jamaicans, dancehall, and that's were I learned opera. You are where you come from. I'm just myself. When I dance, talk, when you see me, the way I speak, walk, it is my culture. It is the Dominican Republic mixed in with American culture, too. I'm American born, American raised. ... I don't let one side take over the other. The sound of the album is very, very, very worldly. ... You're going to find that a lot of cultures are going to love the music because I try to hit home with everybody."
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