Fierce

Cuban Songstress Kat Dahlia Speaks On Why Adding Spanish To Her Music Isn’t For A Trend — She’s Been Doing It Intentionally For An Important Reason

Monique Chavez

Two decades ago, an eight-year-old Kat Dahlia sat in her Miami home writing rhymes she’d sing and rap aloud. Now, at 28, the raspy songstress says she’s a lot like the scribbling child artist she used to be. Sure, she’s had chart-toppers, like her 2013 hit “Gangsta,” a former major record label deal and a studio album, but, when it comes to making music, her creativity and hunger remains as fresh as it was twenty years ago.

“In a lot of ways, it still feels like the beginning, like I’m still eight years old. I’m writing my best music yet, and the next biggest song is yet to come,” the Cuban-American artist, who this month returned from a two-hear hiatus, tells FIERCE.

Kat’s next big banger could be her latest single “I’m Doin’ Good,” a light reggaeton bop about protecting your well-being. For her, the bilingual track, produced by her longtime collaborator Royal Z, is another “female anthem,” a song women who are on a path of self-growth can listen to for strength when the past is trying to pull them back.

“Knowing my girls would tell me ‘don’t’ / Buscando mi conección / No quiero perder mi dirección,” she sings, her voice gritty and sincere.

Kat, who has long made music inspired by her Cuban culture (if you haven’t listened to “Tumbao” do it — now!) with the intention of empowering women and girls, believes we are in a time where, sonically, audiences will be more understanding of her Latin-infused R&B and pop and, cognitively, more open to her message.

Returning as an indie artist, the now Los Angeles-based performer is taking on a new chapter in her career and life, and she’s hyped. We chatted with Kat about new music — which she has been holding onto and is finally ready to release to eager fans — upcoming shows, artistic and personal growth as well as self-preservation, among so much more.

FIERCE: You are coming back from a two-year hiatus. How does this feel, energizing, intimidating, natural?

Kat Dahlia: It feels like everything. It’s exciting and it’s scary. It’s also kind of like a weight lifted off my shoulders, to be honest, because when you’re creating all you want to do is just release stuff, and I feel like the moment has finally come.

FIERCE: I see you wiped your Instagram clean, too. Does it feel like a fresh new start for you? 

Kat Dahlia: In a way. I think it’s just like a new chapter. I don’t know if it’s like a fresh start, but it’s definitely a new chapter, and I wanted that to be reflected on my Instagram. Also, I think it helps make it look, aesthetically, like a new chapter.

FIERCE: How does returning as an indie artist impact the direction of your music and the focus you are able to give to your creativity?

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I’m Doin Good Out Meow!!!! 🐱 📸: @mochavez

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Kat Dahlia: I mean, I feel like I’m in complete control now in a lot of ways, which can be nerve-wracking. I definitely wake up every morning thinking about it and going to sleep thinking about it. It’s my entire responsibility and my entire career. I’m like the boss of myself. So it’s very empowering but also can be scary at times.

FIERCE: How so?

Kat Dahlia: Well, a lot of the weight is on you. I am the label. I am the everything now, so I really have the pressure on myself. But it’s a good pressure, honestly. I would rather it this way. 

FIERCE: Your evolvement as an artist is evident in the sound of your new music. Do you think you’ve grown as an artist during this hiatus or that you are just now able to do the music you want to do? 

Kat Dahlia: I think it’s both. I think I’ve grown as an artist and as a woman. I think that music has changed since “Gangsta.” I think that my musical taste has changed as well. There’s just so much growth happening, from within me and the world, and the music reflects that.

FIERCE: How do you think those exterior changes you mentioned influenced you?

Kat Dahlia: Even the way people release music now, even the way people consume music, how quickly it’s consumed. That affects the way that I as an artist will put out the music, how often I’m going to be putting out music. Social media, everything, so much has changed the way that the world consumes information, music — everything is just faster. So for me it was really important to have worked for two-plus years on a lot of music and have a really strong catalog and focus on making my best shit, so that, when the time comes, it’s like boom, I have a whole arsenal of stuff that I can just keep dropping. And while doing that, I can also continue to keep making. But it needed to be right, it needed to be stuff that I loved and something that I truly do believe in. It is important as an indie artist. I was with a label for a really long time, and I didn’t really have 100 percent of the say, and now I do, which is awesome and freeing. But it takes time, and as that time goes on, two years, a lot of shit fucking happened. People were dropping music every month, every day, and I needed to make sure I wasn’t just making songs and putting them out. I wanted to make really, really, really good shit.

FIERCE: One of the most obvious stylistic differences we hear with your music right now is its fusion of urbano with R&B and pop. You’ve never shied away from embracing your Cuban culture in your music, but it feels a little more intentional now. Why is that?


Kat Dahlia: I was always doing it. In my first album, I had Spanish songs, I redid Celia Cruz’s “Tumbao,” I did the Spanish version of “Gangsta.” It just seems like now, with this Latin surge, it feels more important, which is great, because when I was doing it, it wasn’t as big as it is now. Now, there’s the space to do it and now I can do so much more with it. I can do it in the way that I want to do it, in a way I think is cool. And now that there’s this platform, this explosion of Latin musical culture, it’s great because there’s so many more eyes on it, people care more, it’s more important. 

FIERCE: Your latest single “I’m Doin’ Good” is a bop. You called it “another female anthem.” Why?

Kat Dahlia: I want it to be a female anthem. I feel like every time I make songs, I’m always thinking about our perspective. There are so many songs that girls are singing these days that are written by men, so they are not authentically our perspective. So I’m constantly thinking of songs that feel more genuine to me and hopefully connect with other females, kind of like “Gangsta” or “I Think I’m In Love.” Those songs are important to young females. They want to feel empowered, in love. They want to connect to stuff, just how I want to connect to stuff, that feels real.

FIERCE: In “I’m Doin’ Good,” you sing, “‘Cause I’m doing good right now. I don’t wanna lose myself. I’m doing good right now, and you calling doesn’t help.” The song, to me, is about protecting your mental health and not letting anyone take you back from the emotional or spiritual gains you’ve made. Why is this preservation of self necessary to you?

Kat Dahlia: Because I think people, like myself, can get wrapped up in things that are not good for us. I feel like this last year, I’ve been super focused on my mental and physical health and getting to know myself better to live a more authentic life and not waste my time with bullshit.

FIERCE: How do you, Kat, the woman, safeguard your mental health and growth in your personal life, especially as an artist in the public eye?

Kat Dahlia: I think my biggest thing is just keeping boundaries with certain people and habits. It’s about staying focused on what really does feel important to me and knowing the difference between what really is important to me and what is a distraction. It’s knowing what’s not good for me, being aware of that, and saying no to it.

FIERCE: I want to get back to the music, because I know you have a lot of new-new on the way. What can you tell us about it?

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Waiting on my song to drop tonight like…

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Kat Dahlia: I’m just going to keep dropping songs, like three or four more by the end of the year. Then, in the first quarter of next year, I hope to drop a project. I also want to drop videos for every song. I just made shit and focused on making shit that I like, which is always going to end up leaning urban, R&B, Afro-beat, Latin, everything, just a representation of me and the shit that I like.

FIERCE: In a recent interview, you stated that a US tour is in the works. Can you share any details on that?

Kat Dahlia: We’re working on it right now. As far as shows, I have the Los Dells Festival in September and Austin City Limits in October.  

FIERCE: You started singing and rapping when you were a child, eight years old. What is it like for you, today, two decades later, at age 28, looking back and knowing you’ve realized those childhood dreams through a rollercoaster journey in the industry and are now doing it on your own terms?

Kat Dahlia: In a lot of ways it still feels like the beginning, like I’m still eight years old. I’m writing my best music yet, and the next biggest song is yet to come.

FIERCE: Talking about what’s to come, what are you most excited about what’s next for you and why should people be paying attention?

Kat Dahlia: It’s on them, whatever they want to do, but me, personally, I’m most excited about sharing music already. It’s been too long. I’m also excited about finally putting out a message that I 100 percent believe in and own. 

FIERCE: And what message is that? 

Kat Dahlia: Just do good, be myself, stay authentic and try to just be good to myself. 

Read: Meet Kim Viera, The Nuyorican Powerhouse Singer Soaring Over Tropical Beats

Pepe Aguilar Is Spreading Norteña Culture Across The US In Sold Out Venues And We Stan Hard

Entertainment

Pepe Aguilar Is Spreading Norteña Culture Across The US In Sold Out Venues And We Stan Hard

Pop music is far more complex and deeper than Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift (no offence, ladies). In a multicultural society like the United States, we have to rethink what we consider as mainstream. This term is generally used for artists whose work is consumed by Anglo audiences. Think about it, an African-American rapper “breaks into the mainstream” when white folk start paying attention, right? Otherwise, the artist is just “niche”. That is why we gotta reconsider what “mainstream” means when it comes to Latino artists and shows. 

Which brings us to Pepe Aguilar, perhaps one of the most popular singers in the planet and who is taking Mexico and the United States by storm with his Mexican rodeo extravaganza “Jaripeo Sin Fronteras”. The show brings together charreria, songs and a good doses of good old Mexican pride. 

So who is Pepe Aguilar? (as if you didn’t know, right?) 

Credit: Instagram. @pepeaguilar_oficial

His full name is José Antonio Aguilar Jiménez and he is Mexican-American as it comes. He was born in San Antonio, Texas, while his parents were on tour. He was raised in Zacatecas, where he first became a rock musician and had a band called Equs, which was influenced by the likes of Pink Floyd and The Who! Can you imagine that? Well, one thing led to another and he ended up going back to his Mexican roots and becoming one of the best-selling ranchera acts of all time. 

He is, of course, the son of the late great Tony Aguilar.

Credit: Instagram. @pepeaguilar_oficial

Pepe Aguilar has ranchera en la sangre. He is the son of Antonio Aguilar and Flor Silvestre, two legendary musicians in their own right. Tony Aguilar was also a strong presence in the Mexican film industry. Aguilar senior recorded over 150 albums, which sold over 25 million copies. Can you get more mainstream than that? Well, Pepe is making sure that the family legacy lives on. 

Introducing Jaripeo Sin Fronteras!

Credit: Instagram. @pepeaguilar_oficial

This amazing show has Pepe Aguilar as the lead, but includes acts by his kids Angela (what a voice on this lady!), Leonardo and Antonio Aguilar Jr. Marichis and rodeo acts are also included of course! The show is touring non-stop in 2019 in both sides of the border, bringing a message of unity. Just look at what they did in Mexico City.

Let’s not forget that for the Aguilar family showbiz is like second nature.

Credit: Instagram. @pepeaguilar_oficial

The show just flows like the musical blood that runs through those Aguilar veins. This is Pepe with his brother, perhaps the only Aguilar not deep into showbiz! In an interview for CE Noticias Financieras, Guadalupe Pineda, the famous Mexican singer and Pepe’s cousin, says of him: “Pepe is a great dad, he’s doing the best for every one of his kids. As an aunt, you simply know and feel that we can all be wrong and that the boy is very young and has every right in the world to get ahead”. 

So, of course, the show includes the next generation of Aguilar talent!

Credit: Instagram. @angelicaguilar_mxfan

Angela Aguilar followed the family tradition of being born while on tour. She came into the world in Los Angeles while her mother was accompanying Pepe Aguilar on tour. And you can tell that musical talent is there. Her version of “Shallow” is enough to make anyone cry! And she had Lady Gaga’s blessing, as Angela said in the Mexican TV show Ventaneando: “Suddenly I’m playing the piano trying to practice and concentrate. Lady Gaga said yes, practice, you’re going to sing it. Oh, my God, I’m going to die! I mean, Lady Gaga knows who I am is like. wow!”.

The show includes all sorts of equine acts, and the horses are quite unique.

Credit: Instagram. @pepeaguilar_oficial

Some of the amazing horses in the show are shaved by the amazing Rob Ferrell, a barber who is so dexterous with the blade he is able to imprint a Mexican aguila y serpiente on the equine’s skin. You can look at his work (on human and horse surfaces!) here: https://www.instagram.com/robtheoriginal/  

The show has been a sold-out in localities North and South of the Border.

Credit: Instagram. @pepeaguilar_oficial

Look at the Honda Center in Anaheim: un lleno total, carajo! Pepe Aguilar is a consummate businessman and he knows that every city is slightly different. He explained the concept to Billboard: “It’s basically a modular concept, where you can change the pieces. The fundamental parts are the horse shows and the Mexican traditions. In some cities we’ll have special guests, in others, only the family is going to perform”. There are still some dates available this year: 

September 20 — Atlanta, Georgia @ Infinite Energy Center

September 22 — Chicago, Illinois @ Allstate Arena

September 27 — Tacoma, Washington @Tacoma Dome

Even if you are not a fan of ranchera culture, you have to admit the show is quite spectacular: the whole Aguilar family makes an appearance, look at Leonardo riding that horse.

Credit: YouTube. @STO

Leonardo is the latest success story in “La Dinastía Aguilar”. He has been nominated for two Latin Grammys despite his tender age: only 20 and he is already a great act. He released his first record when he was only 12-years-old, Nueva Tradición, a collaboration with his sister Angela.

And of course Pepe Aguilar has been super amazing with fans, because that is just who he is.

Credit: YouTube / Los Angeles Times

You don’t get to be on top and stay on top without being an approachable and kind celebrity. Pepe Aguilar knows well who pays his wages: the millions of fans that love him and his multi talented family. 

And of course Mexican cities are embracing the show with sold out venues.

Credit: Instagram. @pepeaguilar_oficial

Jaripeo sin Fronteras has had a huge appeal in Mexico, which tells us that being “Mexican” goes beyond national borders. No one cares Pepe Aguilar was born in the United States: we share one identity and one heart. 

So can haters admit Mexican culture is mainstream now?

Credit: YouTube / Los Angeles Times

Jaripeo sin Fronteras has performed in the main arenas of almost every major city in the United States. See what we meant with rethinking what mainstream means?

And yeah, those are some of the most beautiful caballitos we have ever seen.

Credit: YouTube / Los Angeles Times

Just look at those ojitos pispiretos, beautiful beasts. And as Billboard reports, no animals are harmed, so worry not: “Pepe, who rides several of his Andalusian horses in his own equestrian performance, also specifies that no animals are hurt during this tour”. 

Tejano Music Icon Selena’s Murderer Is Asking For A New Trial After Accusing Prosecutor Of Hiding Evidence

Things That Matter

Tejano Music Icon Selena’s Murderer Is Asking For A New Trial After Accusing Prosecutor Of Hiding Evidence

Yolanda Saldívar, the woman convicted of killing the iconic singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, is demanding a new trial. In an exclusive interview with Radar Online, the late “reina de Tejano music’s” former fan club president alleges there is evidence that could free her from her lifetime sentence for the 1995 murder.

Saldívar claims that the prosecutor in her case, Carlos Valdez, has been holding exculpatory material evidence.

According to Saldívar, it is proof that is favorable to the defendant and shows that Valdez did not disclose to the defense or the jury in the trial for Selena’s 1995 murder more than two decades ago. She says that Valdez discussed the alleged evidence, a pair of high top white Reebok sneakers and a black baseball cap, during an interview with Spanish-language media.

“The Petitioner paraphrases Mr. Valdez’s media interview where he stated that he and the defense counsel, the late Mr. Douglas Tinker, discussed what [evidence] would or would not be introduced to the jury,” reads court paperwork of a Second Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Saldívar on March 28, 2019.

“How could this be? It is the jury, no less, that would decide the fate of the Petitioner, between [life] in prison and [freedom]. The jury, NOT the defense or the prosecutor is the trier of fact of all relevant material evidence and they alone should and DID determine between conviction and acquittal,” she writes.

In layman terms, Saldívar contends that allegedly relevant evidence in her case wasn’t presented to the jury.

This information is obligatory, and suggests that leaving out the information was “a nefarious attempt to obscure a verdict against the Petitioner.” According to her, including the hat and shoes in the evidence could impact the case against her.

In the interview, Valdez passively says that Saldívar was wearing the bloody hat and sneakers. He attests that Saldívar stepped in Selena’s trail of blood as she followed the late singer running for her life. However, Saldívar, who claimed the shooting was accidental, asked that if the shoes and bloodstains on them could prove she committed the crime, then why did the prosecution exclude them as evidence.

“The prosecutor, Mr. Valdez, presented evidence of the trail of blood he states the victim left behind as she ran 130 yards (390 feet) from the room to the front lobby of the motel,” the court papers read. “The ‘withholding’ of the victim’s shoes (i.e. White Reebok Tennis Shoes) are of a great consequence because if it is as Mr. Valdez claimed in his March 16, 2018 interview that the Petitioner ‘stepped’ on victim’s blood as she followed the victim, then ‘intent’ would have been proven or disproven. For 23 years, the jury nor the defense knew that such shoes existed.” 

She continued, saying she had “no doubt” the prosecutor “impaired the verity of the evidence by not only withholding the evidence but claiming that those tennis shoes belonged to the defendant, inciting and infecting the public’s sediment even more against the Petitioner before, during and now with his recent media interview.”

Saldívar went as far as accusing Valdez of knowing “those tennis shoes belonged to the victim” and said “withholding them helped get the conviction of the Petitioner practicing a travesty of justice to the rule of law and violating the constitutional rights of the Petitioner.”

Despite her demands, however, Saldívar’s case was dismissed without prejudice because the Petitioner filed the petition in district court and must seek permission from the Fifth Circuit.

Saldívar, a former nurse, founded Selena’s fan club in San Antonio. She became the club’s president and was later also promoted to manager of the late artist’s clothing boutiques, Selena, Etc. 

In 1995, six years after Saldívar had started the club, Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla, was receiving complaints from fans that they weren’t receiving their paid items and heard rumors from fellow employees that Saldívar had been embezzling money from both the fan club and the boutiques. As a result, Saldívar was fired. 

On March 31 of the same year, Selena met with Saldívar at a Days Inn motel in Corpus Christi to retrieve financial records Saldívar had been refusing to give to the Quintanilla family. While the “Como La Flor” singer was leaving the motel room, Saldívar shot her in the back, severing an artery. Selena, in critical condition, ran toward the motel lobby. Before collapsing, an employee claims the songstress named Saldívar as her shooter.

Selena was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital. 

At the time, she was 23 years old. Soon after, at the Days Inn, Saldívar was in a nine-hour-long standoff with the police, calling the shooting an accident and threatening to kill herself before she was arrested.

On October 23, 1995, jurors found Saldívar guilty of first-degree murder. Three days later, she was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole in 30 years — the maximum prison term in Texas at the time. She is currently serving her time at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas. She will become eligible for parole on March 30, 2025.

Read: Netflix Officially Cast The Role Of Selena Quintanilla And ‘Twilight’ Fans Will Be Thrilled