When GALE wrote her first song at the age of seven, she thought she could be a superhero.
The salsa track entitled “Amor Sincero” was dedicated to a boy who didn’t like her back. “When I finished writing, I thought, ‘Wait, did I just create something that didn’t exist just using a melody and chords?'” she recalls. “I thought I had a superpower. Since then I just keep going.”
Expressing herself through music was easy for the Puerto Rican singer-songwriter who grew up surrounded by artistic minds. Her father is also a musician – performing at local events along with his band. Her grandfather was a professional cuatro player. Meanwhile, her mother was an actress performing theater. “I was always free to experiment,” says the 29-year-old, who has written songs for artists such as Fanny Lu, Juanes and Manuel Turizo and is currently working on her first album.
Even before she learned to perform professionally at the Escuela Libre de Música, her father prepared her for the big stage when she was a little girl. “He always made me perform at every family gathering,” says GALE. “He used to tell me, ‘If you’re going to do this your whole life, you’ve got to practice.’ I was like, ‘I just want to go play hide and seek with my cousins!’ But then I would sing 10 songs and I would enjoy it.”
Now, GALE has become a popular songwriter for a handful of artists — and on November 17, she won her first Latin Grammy, thanks to Christina Aguilera for the songwriting credits Aguilera, which won Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album and is also nominated for Best Latin Pop Album at February’s Grammys. “If you work hard and manifest it, it happens. It grounds.”
GALE – who grew up with Shakira, Avril Lavigne and Selena Quintanilla – has been focused on carving out a path of her own ever since she relocated to Miami from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. “At first I knew I had to work my ass off to make things happen,” she explains. “What I always wanted was my own project as an artist and I definitely wanted to do that. But how would I get there? I figured I would start writing with other artists and build those relationships. Then get a publishing deal and get signed by a label.”
So she started knocking on doors and visiting publishers to show them the catalog of songs she had recorded in her closet. Her first big break came in 2019 when peermusic invited her to a session with Colombian artist Fanny Lu where they wrote “En Mis Tacones” together. Since then, she says, doors have opened thanks to “word of mouth, because the producers started recommending me, Fanny Lu wanted to work with me again”.
She eventually landed a publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music and a recording deal with Sony Music Latin. She then landed on Aguilera’s project – co-authors (along with DallasK and Josh Berrios) of the Ozuna-backed “Santo,” which peaked at No. 12 billboard‘s Latin Airplay chart in February.
She recalls meeting Aguilera during a writing session for Brujería. “She was sitting next to me and she’s like, ‘Are you singing that? [on the demo]?’ I said, ‘Yes,’ and she said, ‘What a beautiful voice.’ To my mind I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve been practicing singing Wed Reflejo Every day I know the album from A to Z. I practiced playing all your songs…’ But what I really said was: ‘Thanks, you have a beautiful voice too.’ It was a moment,” she says, laughing.
Grateful that songwriting has opened doors for other artists, she is now also focusing on her own project and plans to release her debut album in 2023 – which would feature her three singles “Inmadura”, “Prolemas” and “D-Pic”. . Describing their style as “Bad Bunny meets Dua Lipa meets Avril Lavigne”, their first few songs showcase their raw, edgy songwriting skills and their pop punk and rock influences. And instead of going down the collaborative route, she decided her first few songs wouldn’t feature other artists. “I’m like, ‘This is me and this is it, I hope you like it,'” she says. “Cooperations will come because they are also important and valuable. But right now it’s just me.”
Here’s more about this month’s Latin Artist on the Rise, in their own words:
Surname: Carolina Isabel Colon Juarbe
Recommended song: Oh booze, that’s hard. Because my three singles are all different, but they are similar in that they are raw and honest. I think if someone is more into the romantic, nostalgic vibe then check out “Inmadura”. But if anyone is like their badass era, then they need to check out “D-Pic.” And “Problemas” is musically like the perfect mix of what I do: pop, rock and urban. But if I had to choose, I’d say “D-Pic” because it’s a statement. You get a real representation of who I am as an artist.
Biggest success: I start performing my songs, born in a vulnerable and intimate place, in front of a live audience. One of my favorite performances was at Latin Music Week in September. It felt magical. The connection with the people was incredible. I thought, “Dn, I’m ready for this.” I’m going to share this, before I went on stage I called my dad and he said, “My love, don’t worry, you can’t see anyone from the stage because of the spotlight. You just do your thing.” The first thing I see when I go on stage is everyone’s face.
What’s next: I’m working on my debut album which is almost finished. It’s very special because it was born after a breakup, at the exact moment I decided to end things with that person that I knew from the start that person wasn’t my Person. But I wanted it to work. When I broke up with them, all these songs came to me and they represent different stages. Because it hurts to hurt someone, it’s a roller coaster of emotions.
I’m really looking forward to the album. It’s coming early to mid next year. And next year I will definitely do more shows. In fact, I’m performing at Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián in Puerto Rico in January, which is a huge event. It’s legendary in my country.