Fierce

Up Next: Meet Katalina, The Colombian Funny Girl-Turned-Pop Singer You Need To Know

Up Next is a FIERCE series highlighting rising Latina and Latin American women artists you might not know about but definitely should.

Katalina is used to the spotlight. For years, the colombiana has cultivated an audience of millions on Instagram with her hilarious short videos about relationships and womanhood. But now, the social media influencer-turned-singer is using her mic to explore these themes.

Debuting her first song, “Sacude,” a carefree pop-urban dance jam, last November, the Miami-living entertainer followed up this month with the heartbreaking ballad “Adios” featuring Cuban-American singer JenCarlos Canela, showing her musical versatility.

“With me, there will definitely be both. This is something I think I have been very clear about,” Katalina, 27, told FIERCE. “I feel that music is more free now and you do not have to limit yourself to only one genre. I like challenges and I dislike routine, so you can always expect a mix.”

We chatted with the rising star about her lifelong love of singing, transitioning from social media influencer to music artist, saying goodbye to loved ones and what to expect from the beauty in the months that follow.

FIERCE: Most people who are familiar with Katalina know you as a social media influencer with hilarious videos, but last year you took the leap into music. Why?

Katalina: I have always liked to sing. I come from a very musical and talented family, but we always practiced it as a hobby. A year ago, I gave myself the opportunity to develop it professionally with my manager, Kito Sunshine, and I am totally grateful and in love with this. Music is what I love the most — it frees me.

FIERCE: Was this shift from social media influencer to singer strategic? Did you know you always wanted to sing and saw social media as an avenue to build your popularity and get you there or was this an unexpected but welcomed outcome?

Katalina: Since I was a little girl, I have known that I liked to sing and play the piano. From 9 to 11 years old, I sang in the choir of a church when I lived in Colombia, and for me it was something magical, so I’ve always known it. As far as social media, I entered by accident, but from the first day, I enjoyed the opportunity to reach so many people and show them my musical side as well. It was not a strategy. I did not upload many videos singing, but people motivated me more and more to try to develop music professionally, so I gave myself the opportunity, and, well, here we are.

FIERCE: But you’re not just a pretty girl with a following who is trying to use her fame to dabble in something she has no business doing. You are talented! Still, several social media influencers have attempted to break into music, some like Cardi B and Jenn Morel finding success, but others not so much, oftentimes not because they lack talent but rather because they’re not taken as seriously. What has this transition been like for you?

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Katalina: It is a bit difficult for people to see social influencers in another facet that they are not used to, but, in my case, I always showed them that musical side, so it was not totally a surprise. The same people asked me and the reception was very special. I hope to reach many people with my music.

FIERCE: As you stated, you have been passionate about singing and playing the piano since you were a child. What sort of music did you grow up listening to and how do you think it’s influenced your Latin pop sound today?

Katalina: I grew up listening to a lot of pop and ballads. My mom always listened to this music, so she did influence me a lot. I remember locking myself in my room and practicing these songs all the time. I still do this.

FIERCE: Colombian music is having a major global moment right now. What do you think you bring to the game that’s different and helps you stand out among the rest?

Katalina: Together with my work team we are creating our own seal. Our sounds are different and the vocal arrangements are unique to what we want to project. We are focused on the urban wave but keeping my romantic side.

FIERCE: I can see that for sure! You recently released “Adios,” a ballad featuring Cuban-American artist Jencarlos Canela about saying goodbye to an ex-love with the hope of returning to each other again in the end. This is very relatable because a lot of times during breakups there’s this hope that time away will bring you two back together. Sometimes it’s because the couple really is good for each other, but other times it’s just a matter of costumbre. How do you, Katalina, decipher between the two?

Katalina: Saying goodbye is always going to be difficult, either out of love or habit. I think that if you are with someone just out of habit and not because you love him, it is better to say goodbye definitely. “Adios,” to me, has another meaning. Beyond the circumstances for which you have had to say goodbye to your ex-partner, it is the goodbye that makes your heart hurt. It’s the memories of the shared moments that make you miss a person and want to have them again, that’s “Adios.”.

FIERCE: In the music video, the song took on new meaning. It wasn’t just about an ex but about losing someone you love to death and never being able to be with them again. Why did you all want to dedicate this song and video to those who lost their partners?

Katalina: These are very common situations in all of our lives. The message also has to do with those who have lost a loved one, not just their partner. In my case, I recently lost my grandmother suddenly, who was a mother to me, and, for this reason, I, and many others, can identify with this video.

FIERCE: I’m so sorry to hear that! And I think you’re right. The video really extends to loss outside of romantic relationships. We are in an era of collaborations, especially for Latin music, and in this song, your and Jencarlos’ voices blend very beautifully. Tell me, who are some of your other dream collaborations?

Katalina: I’ve always believed you find strength in unity, so working in a team, to me, is a very wise decision. I have a long list, but I’d want to start with artists like Natti Natasha, Karol G, Becky G, Ivy Queen, Cardi B — these are strong women and great examples of what it means to be an empowering woman. Also, J Balvin, Daddy Yankee and others. They are artists with careers worthy of admiration.

FIERCE: I know you’ve been working on a lot of music for this year. What can you tell us is in store for Katalina in 2019?

Katalina: There are incredible songs written by international composers. I will also have my debut as a songwriter in a song that I think people will really identify with.

FIERCE: Can we expect more ballads like “Adios” or more dance songs like “Sacude” or a mix of genres?

Katalina: With me, there will definitely be both. This is something I think I have been very clear about. I feel that music is more free now and you do not have to limit yourself to only one genre. I like challenges and I dislike routine, so you can always expect a mix.

FIERCE: You are so young, at the start of your career, what do you hope people can say about Katalina in 10 to 15 years?

Katalina: My dream is to become an icon in music worldwide. I would love for people to say that I inspired them to fulfill their dreams, that I helped empower other women, that my life has been a great example of triumph. In 10 to 15 years, with the help of God, I will leave my mark throughout the planet.

Watch Katalina’s latest single, “Adios,” below:

There’s A Group In Colombia Throwing Virtual House Parties With Amazing DJ’s And Supporting Vulnerable Communities In The Process

Things That Matter

There’s A Group In Colombia Throwing Virtual House Parties With Amazing DJ’s And Supporting Vulnerable Communities In The Process

DonaEnCasa / Instagram

With the pandemic forcing millions of us into lockdown and self-isolation, we’ve had to get pretty creative when it comes to socializing. One consequence of the lockdown has been the total shutdown of bars and clubs.

But let’s be real: the desire to perrear hasn’t gone anywhere.

So that’s where digital dance parties come to the rescue. And one group is creating super fun virtual parties with serious DJs spinning everything from EDM to reggaetón, while also supporting at-risk communities.

Dona En Casa is throwing virtual dance parties and supporting local communities with every peso they raise.

The Coronavirus pandemic may have spurred the group into action, but Dona En Casa is working on solving issues that existed long before Covid-19 threatened communities around the world.

Poverty, homelessness, lack of medical care and education – these issues all existed long before the virus hit but imagine how much worse they have become for impoverished communities in Latin America… Things have only gotten worse.

So, Dona En Casa decided to step up and try and do something about it while creating a platform for others to give back and have fun doing so – all from the safety and comfort of their own home. The group is also creating a fun space for people to escape the daily reminder of self-isolation and quarantine with lineups featuring amazing DJs.

Dona En Casa has helped frontline medical workers and has plans to help even more organizations – with your support.

Credit: donaencasa / Instagram

The group started off raising money for families in need of food assistance – and so far, the Dona En Casa and its partygoers have helped feed 100 families. But the group has also helped raise money to buy face masks and PPE for healthcare workers stationed in remote parts of Colombia that don’t have easy access to necessary equipment.

In an interview with Felipe Galvis, a founder of Done En Casa, he said the group is also looking to expand its giving programs by partnering with other organizations – including a dog shelter and a sanctuary for monkeys trafficked in the wildlife trade.

OK – but a digital dance party? What does that even look like…?

Credit: donaencasa / Instagram

Trust me, I had this question, too. But it actually sounds amazing! I mean basically you get to party from the comfort of your home, get dressed up or stay as dressed down as you want, make your own favorite beverage, and hang out with tons of other like-minded people.

The party takes place on Zoom and typically goes for two hours – but Galvis noted that their first party stretched on for four hours because people were having such a good time.

And this isn’t like something you’ll just stream while doing something on the side: Galvis said that at least 70% of people are really active and engaged – there’s tons of chatting, dance challenges, games, and even private chatting going. Can we expect a Done En Casa wedding some day?

Galvis pointed out that the last thing he expected to do in a quarantine was meet new people, but thanks to these parties that’s exactly what’s happened. Together, they’re building a community and in the process supporting vulnerable groups and helping out the entertainment industry and DJs along the way.

Mitú is joining Dona En Casa for two digital fiestas that will benefit TECHO – a major NGO across Latin America.

Credit: us.techo.org

This Friday and Saturday (May 22/23), Mitú is joining Dona En Casa for two crazy fiestas that will take place to benefit TECHO – a Latin American organization that provides support to communities in need.

TECHO is an organization that Dona En Casa co-founder Felipe Galvis holds close to his heart. As a former volunteer, he has seen the impact the organization makes. They provide food assistance, medical aide, supplemental education such as English classes, and they help small businesses with microcredits and coaching. The organization also constructs emergency housing for families who need them most.

You can join in on the parties with a donation that will 100% benefit the organization. The group is asking for a $9 USD donation – since with $9 USD they can feed a family for 10 days. And with your $9 donation you get access to both parties on Friday and Saturday.

Colombia has had a pretty strict response to the Coronavirus pandemic leaving many people with increased anxiety and loneliness.

Credit: donaencasa / Instagram

As soon as it became clear that Coronavirus was spreading across Latin America, Colombia sealed off its borders – including banning its own citizens from returning to Colombia. In fact, the country has been home to some of the strictest measures against the pandemic in Latin America. While this has had a positive effect at combating the outbreak, it’s also led to increased anxiety and loneliness among those who aren’t even allowed to leave their homes to visit family.

The Dona En Casa initiative is a win-win situation that helps people in need while also letting others dance and hang out in a socially distanced digital platform. If you’re interested in signing up for the event, check it out here.

Colombia Is Calling Your Name But How Much Do You Actually Know About This Incredible South American Country?

Culture

Colombia Is Calling Your Name But How Much Do You Actually Know About This Incredible South American Country?

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Colombia has been a rising travel destination for several years now as more and more people realize it has so much to offer. From bustling cities full of life to snow-capped mountains and unrivaled jungle rainforests, Colombia is truly a destination worth exploring.

And before the Coronavirus pandemic halted the breaks on the travel industry, Colombia was quickly becoming a major appeal for travelers from all over the world. Just 10 years ago, Colombia received around 900,000 foreign visitors – last year that number stood at nearly 3 million!

Now, as many of us dream about our next vacation (which is likely months if not more than a year away…), we want to revisit some of our favorite travel hotspots and test your knowledge on South America’s top destinations.

The country has a bad rap – but safety has improved so much.

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Unfortunately, it appears that not everyone knows that Colombia is well and truly back on the map, and that for the most part it is a safe destination for visitors to South America.

The drug cartels, still very much present, tend to keep their violence off the streets and a truce between FARC and the government has largely been held in place. Still, you may hear stories and sure there are parts of the country you probably shouldn’t visit, but Colombia has overwhelmingly improved its security. Anthony Bourdain summed it up pretty perfectly:

“If you want to find bad people in Colombia, you can surely find them, as you could in New York or Los Angeles. But nowhere have my crew and I been treated better or with more kindness and generosity. I’d bring my family on vacation there in a heartbeat. And hope to soon. As I said before: Colombians are proud. Let them show you what they are proud of.”

Colombians sure love their fiestas – the country is home to four of the world’s largest parties.

Credit: Bret Silverwood / Flickr

From the biggest salsa festival, theatre festival, outdoor horse parade to a flower parade, Colombia knows how to throw massive parties. Many of these events are scheduled well in advance so you can start looking for dates in 2021 and plan your trip accordingly!

Colombia is a major music-producing country – Maluma baby!

Credit: maluma / Instagram

Colombia has given us some pretty awesome people: hip-shaking Shakira, author Gabriel Garcia Marquez (who penned Love in the Time of Cholera) and actor John Leguizamo (of Moulin Rouge and Romeo & Juliet fame – Google him, you’ll know) all call the country home.

Not to mention Juanes, Maluma, J Balvin, Karol G and so many others.

Colombia is the only country in South America that has coastlines on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Credit: Bret Silverwood / Flickr

Ok, so the Pacific side isn’t all that much of a tourist destination yet – it lacks the sandy beaches known to the Caribbean side. But still, you get the best of both worlds with two different coastlines to choose from.

There are about 80 different regional languages spoken across Colombia.

Credit: Bret Silverwood / Flickr

Spanish, like most of South America, is the official language of Colombia and you’ll get by in most of the country with it. But keep in mind if in smaller villages that it’s more than likely you’ll encounter Indigenous languages – many of which are in danger of extinction.

Aguardiente is the national drink.

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You’ll either love it or hate it but either way you’ll end up drinking tons of it. It’s cheap and mixes pretty well.

Capital Bogota has one of the biggest cycle path networks in the world.

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Bogota’s bike network is the largest network in the America’s and it actually carries more than 600,000 riders each and every day. That’s some serious ridership and is kind of surprising considering the city sits at an altitude of nearly 3,000 meters (or more than 8,000 feet).

Colombia is one of the most mega-diverse countries in the world.

Credit: National Geographic

Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world, after only Brazil which is 10 times its size, and one of only 17 “megadiverse” countries. It has the highest amount of species by area in the world, including more species of bird than all of Europe and North America combined.

Plastic surgery really is a thing.

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Having grown up in a society where butt implants were a thing the Kadarshians constantly denied, it was fascinating to see so many people openly displaying their ‘physical enhancements.’

According to some locals, the plastic surgery crazy may be thanks to the drug cartels – who allegedly like women to look a certain way. But one thing’s clear – plastic surgery is big business in Colombia with some tour companies actually changing their business model to do ‘surgery tourism’ from the U.S.!