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INSIDE REGGAETON - Exclusive!

Valerie; One of the Best Voices Behind Reggaeton Releases her First Solo Album

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By Quinee Butler Reggaetonline.net

January 30, 2007

Although very few people recognize the name Valerie, she has been one of the women behind the some of the purest vocals in Reggaeton. Valeries beautiful voice can easily be found on Donde Hubo Fuego, the 3rd track found on Los 12 Discipulos, as she accompanies Daddy Yankee. This Month she reaches a milestone in her life by releasing her first solo Reggaeton album.

Born and raised in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Valerie describes her childhood as normal. She started singing in locales that she describes as very low down underground bars in the town Loiza, in a group where she was the only female. We sang all sorts of music, said Valerie, in English, Spanish, doing Meregue and Salsa among other things. I was into the whole singing thing and the group. At the same time, I was attending college full-time trying to get through a Marketing Bachelors degree and it was a lot.

As Valerie slowly became a part of the world of Latin music she made a lot of connections. One of those connections took her on a path into the world of television, where she found herself on TV programs and in small sketches on shows in Puerto Rico. Valerie saw a need for actors and extras, and eventually started a little talent agency to assist some of her friends find jobs in television as well. I started working with a well known producer to get him talent for videos, Valerie recalled. Sometimes I would also do make up for him as well. As time went on, when girls couldnt show up for the video shoot or call in sick I would have to take their places. The first video I was in was with Lito & Polaco; then came videos with DJ Joe, Trebol Clan and Ranking Stone, among others.

From there, Valerie started making friends with different artists; however, no one took her seriously. At that time Reggaeton was not what it is now. It wasnt as musical as it is now, Valerie told Reggaetonline.net. She also knew her strength was in her singing voice, not rapping. They would tell me stuff like, Oh you cant do Reggaeton, Reggaeton is hardcore and you gotta be gangster. I met Noriega and we started talking, but I knew him from elementary school. He heard me sing and we exchanged numbers. I called him one day with an idea after I listened to the song Kelly Rowland did with Nelly. Valerie ended up singing lyrics she wrote to a similar melody as the song called Dilemma on Noriegas answering machine. HE of course called her right back and asked her to come down to the studio and they recorded that song. From there things started to heat up for Valerie and everyone seemed to want her for choruses and stuff.

Valerie was a back up singer for Wisin & Yandels first three concerts. I did a couple of choruses for their cds they asked me to sing back up, she explained. I also played Yandels girlfriend in Mi Vida, the movie about their life. Eddie Dee called me one day and he was like Mira, we need you to do a chorus, so I went down to his studio and did it. Then when the song finally came out I was like Oh My God thats me! That song ended up being Donde Hubo Fuego, one of the many hits from the album produced and master minded by Eddie Dee.

As her musical career got more exciting, Valerie decided to start on her own CD; however, this took her down a new path altogether. When I started as a DJ on La Kalle in New York City, I was in the middle of recording my CD. I thought that job was holding me back from finishing my CD because all the studios are in Puerto Rico and I am in New York, she said. At the same time I think my job also helped me a lot because I worked for a Reggaeton station. During my career as a DJ, I got to see a lot of artists grow, like Daddy Yankee and Don Omar. I knew Alexis & Fido since they were accompanying Wisin & Yandel with their projects. I eventually would see them become a successful duo as well. Working at La Kalle kind of helped me stay connected. I will definitely go back to radio later on in life, but right now I have to pursue my musical career.

Every woman in Latin America knows that its always going to be a little more difficult for a female to get into the Reggaeton industry. Although women have been a huge part of the music since it began, very few have actually made a name for themselves. When asked about the huge gender gap in the industry Valerie simply replied, I think everything happened for a reason. I cant speak for Ivy or Glory, but I know they have their ups and downs too. I am grateful to be friends with a lot these people in the Reggaeton industry. I think thats big in itself for me to be able to say I work with this person or I did this project with that person. Reggaeton is known to be a mans world. People ask me, Why dont you do a different kind of music, where its going to be easier for you? Well, I guess I like a good challenge. There is a lot of machismo, and I am not afraid of it. I decided a long time ago that I wasnt going to just sit down and watch them pass me over. I wont ever just throw in the white flag and give up.

Many critics still say that Reggaeton has vulgar lyrics and is demeaning towards women. Maybe its the language gap or they simply have not followed the evolution of Reggaeton as its fans have. Artists today have definitely changed their approach and put an effort in making the lyrics a bit more meaningful. Not only does Valerie have clean lyrics, she made a conscious effort since the beginning of her career to do what she is comfortable with. When I started out all the guys would tell me, Remember this is Reggaeton. You have to get on stage and scream things like, Donde estan los bellacos!.(Where are all the horny people). They used to always try to tell me how I should act on stage. I felt I wasnt being me, and all that didnt feel good. I decided to do what makes me comfortable and what works for me. Now I been in this genre for three years and I am still here. Women love Reggaeton also and they need people to represent them as well.

There is also the belief that Reggaeton is a dying genre destined for extinction, but Valerie sees things differently: I feel that there is going to be a type of evolution with Reggaeton, she explained. Reggaeton is the base, its kind of a rhythm pattern. You can mix that rhythm pattern with so many different things, so its a sort of fusion of Reggaeton plus other genres. With the creativity that the artists and producers have and are capable of in the future, there is no way that Reggaeton will die. Its definitely here to stay.

Valeries new solo album is full of Reggaeton ballads with lyrics women can relate to. Her album seems to be very commercial; there is no tiraera (beef between two or more artists) associated with the Reggaeton genre. She has the best producers in Flow Music, DJ Memo and DJ Carmin. She has collaborations with K-Mill, Cidelis and Guanabanas. All in all, Valerie has definitely made this CD her own, showing that where there is a will there is a way. She took the opportunity to send a special message to her fans and everyone with a dream: No matter how far away your goal seems, whether its a college degree or a career in music, having trust in God and never giving up is the key. Sometimes people seem to give up when they are just about to make it. They need to remember when a door closes, another one opens. Always strive for the best and be strong, because that is how you reach your goals.