Every year, the Spanish newspaper El País publishes a list of the 100 most influential Latinos in the world. A couple of years ago the list included Junot Díaz. This year, the Dominican Republic’s Rita Indiana Fernández–poet, novelist, composer–has made the list. You can find the full list (in Spanish) here: (http://www.elpais.com/especial/protagonistas/pdf/creadores.pdf)
As Carolina González wrote in 2010 in New York’s Daily News . . .
Indiana has taken merengue beats that nod to gritty “mambo” and tight ’80s ensembles like Las Chicas del Can and mixed them with disco, new wave synthesizers and Afro-derived music forms like Dominican palos.
The result is contagious fast-dance numbers to which she has added Dominican slang-filled lyrics about migration and hard-knock urban lives, making them irresistible to download-savvy fans interested in the hottest global sounds.
“They may not know palos or new-wave keyboards, but they are willing to listen,” she says, “and that expands popular music, lets us invent new genres.”
Less than two years after forming the group Rita Indiana y Los Misterios, the 6-foot-tall Indiana, nicknamed “La Montra” (“the monster”), released in October the band’s first album, “El Juidero,” backed by Premium Latin, the label behind raising the stakes for bachata sensation Aventura.
Her most popular tune, “La hora de volvé” (“Time to Return”), speeds up with güira and outer space blips as if the song is on the verge of falling apart, as the singer breathlessly urges migrants to take “una yola al revés” (“a rickety boat in reverse”) and return to their homeland.
The appeal of the music has also been helped by bright streetwise videos. For the title song of “El Juidero,” a narrative of escape to Puerto Rico, the video plays like a short film, a 1970s crime movie fantasy with heavy doses of “El Malo”-era Fania style, real-life Dominican political intrigue and a cameo by merengue elder Johnny Ventura.
The video was directed by Indiana’s frequent collaborator and girlfriend, Puerto Rican filmmaker Noelia Quintero.
The pair’s appearance holding hands on the red carpet for the Casandra Awards (the top Dominican music awards) this year was thoroughly discussed in the Dominican press, as almost no prominent entertainers on the island are out as gay.
The two are working together on a film project with the hip-hop duo Calle 13.
For González’s article go to http://www.nydailynews.com/latino/rita-indiana-pushes-merengue-heights-article-1.128444