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Ivy Queen adds feelings to the beat

San Antonio Express-News
June 11, 2007

TAGS : Ivy Queen
Reggaeton is much more than just the basic dembo beat, says singer Ivy Queen. To prove her point, she includes strings, piano, acoustic tunes and romantic ballads on her latest CD, "Sentimiento" ("Feeling"). Of course, there are also plenty of reggaeton dance rhythms. "When I was feeling sentimental, I wanted to give a 180-degree turn to what people think of this music," she said. "Many think reggaeton is just nice rhythms to dance to. And they forget there are songwriters and composers, who, like everyone else, also suffer and aspire in love. That is what I wanted this album to be about. Love is what makes us write things, what keeps us alive. If we did not have love, we would have nothing."

The title track, written by Ivy Queen, is a midtemp reggaeton tune that lyrically describes how the human touch, like holding hands, and genuine feelings, like writing 'I love you' on a note, are more important than material things. "Overall, the songs on the album describe the experiences I have lived in the last two years, when I went through, like so many people, a tough situation in my personal life," she said. The 35-year-old singer didn't want to go into details, but acknowledged the songs were just one way she dealt with the end of an 11-year relationship. "What I wanted to say in the song is that material things have never been important to me," she said. "I look for genuine feelings, honesty, the things that come from the heart, because the material things I can get."

She describes the aftermath of a breakup on the torcher "Cuando No Me Tengas." But she also goes big-band salsa on "Si Eres Tu," produced by the noted Isidro Infante. In a new twist in reggaeton, Ivy Queen included solo turns, not duets, by guest singers, including the acoustic bolero "Llego el Domingo" by Naldo and the soulful, piano-driven "Cuando Comprendas" by Mickey Perfecto. Other guests include Baby Rasta, Noriega and Don Omar. Lyrically, the ballads cover familiar topics — devotion, heartbreak, hope and reconciliation.

Hard-core reggaeton fans have not been forgotten. Ivy Queen's signature dance grooves can be found on the frenzied "Que Lloren," "Yo te Rescate," "En que Fallamos" and "Reza por Mi."

As part of her evolution, Ivy Queen eschewed reggaeton's hip-hop street clothes in favor of a slinky black dress that projects a more elegant, sophisticated image on the CD cover.

Like Tego Calderon, Ivy Queen appreciates traditional salsa and other Caribbean rhythms. Reggaeton, a hybrid born on the street as a fusion of reggae, rap and hip-hop, is just one flavor of that larger salsa/tropical musical mosaic.

Ivy Queen said she wanted "Sentimiento" to show that she, like reggaeton, is capable of growing and evolving artistically. She said that her parents raised her to live life a corta venas, or passionately.

"I have been slowly taking more and more control of my career," she said. "And so on this project I felt I had to bare my soul. I wrote what I felt, what I went through so that perhaps it can help other women or men who have gone through that. And that's why I included male singers to sing from the male perspective."

Ivy Queen also used top producers such as Rafi Mercenario and DJ Monserrate.

"I think I did what has never been done in this genre," she said. "I used instruments I grew up with — the strings and acoustic guitars. I wanted to show on this album that I am the complete artist, so people do not call me just a reggaeton artist."

More music

The acoustic quartet Los Inocentes is paying tribute to "La Canción Ranchera" in honor of Father's Day. They will be playing classics by songwriters such as Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Cuco Sanchez, Juan Zaizar and Juan Gabriel. The concert is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at Mission San Jose.

The 2007 Academy of Tejano Artists and Musicians FanFair has been confirmed for June 27 at Maverick Plaza in La Villita. The annual shindig will feature Los Bad Boys del Valle, Big Chihuahuas, Michael Salgado, Powerhouse Avizo, Stefani Montiel, Veronica y Avance, Tex Mex Cadillacs and Shaggy Garcia y Recuerdos.

The event is scheduled for 5 to 11 p.m., and is admission-free. The 2007 ATAM Awards are scheduled Sept. 30 at Villita Assembly Building.