Although she was born in New York and raised in the United States, Christina Aguilera has never been far from the Latin roots that come from her father, a military man who was born in Ecuador. That was clear from the beginning of his solo career, after his stint at the popular Mickey Mouse Club.
And it is that, after having got rid of the innocence of Disney to conquer the world of pop with his first eponymous album, where the megahit “Genie in a Bottle” was found (which was recorded shortly after in Spanish for the Latin American edition of the work) , the virtuous vocalist released another official production that was performed entirely in Spanish, entitled “My reflection.”
Since then, a lot of water has passed under the bridge, and she herself has continued to present increasingly sophisticated productions in which various bilingual moments have intruded; But now, she is ready to fully return to the compositions in our language thanks to an ambitious project that was initially unveiled today with the premiere of the single “For my girls”, In which the Mexican American Becky G and the Argentine Nicki Nicole and Nathy Peluso collaborate.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times en Español, Aguilera spoke about this new topic, the record material that will extend the concept, the way it has reconnected with our language, the peace it has made with its complicated past and the direct support that it provides to women and certain minorities.
Christina, you have just released a new single, “Pa mis chicas”, which will be part of what will be your first production in Spanish in more than 20 years. It took a long time!
Yes, it was about time! I had wanted to do it for a long time, but I am happy to be doing it now and not before, because my current perspective comes from a much deeper place, after everything that has happened in my career, after raising my children and being a mother, having made peace with my past and my childhood and many other circumstances that result in this being the most appropriate and most relevant time for something like this.
I like that my children will be able to see that their mother is celebrating something with which I do not feel completely comfortable, because it is not my first language, but it is an important part of my past, of our legacy. I wasn’t that exposed to Spanish after my parents got divorced, but every time I do something Latino-related, it feels great.
I spent a month in Miami in February, immersed in the musicality that was around me, alongside beautiful artists and singers, and I was fascinated by the talent, energy and joy of everyone in this project. I am so proud of them, so proud of this labor of love that we have created.
I imagine that getting closer to Spanish was always difficult for you because you had a very difficult relationship with your father; but I also know that you sometimes talked about it with your paternal grandparents. How has that relationship with our language changed over the years?
Things were complicated by what I went through with my father, which is something I’ve already talked about; But my mom was also fluent in Spanish, so the two of them talked in that language all the time when they were at home. It is something that comes back to me very easily; I understand it when I have the people who speak it by my side.
The scary part is that I feel insecure, but I think I represent the first generation people who grew up here and faced situations like divorce. [de sus padres], or whatever, and they are not so comfortable speaking the language. Anyway, I was not going to let that stop me from exploring something that I feel so passionate about, which is part of my history and my roots, and which is now also part of my children’s roots, so it seemed to me It was a good example to show them that no matter where you are in your life, it’s okay to celebrate something that might seem intimidating at first.
It is something much more challenging than facing an album in English, of course, but I have done everything possible to have the best teachers and people to help me with certain dialects, because one of the most interesting things about Spanish is that, in each place where it is practiced, it is spoken in a different way. When you talk to someone, they pronounce it differently than the next person you contact, and in this case I had musicians from all over the world in the studio. The craziest thing was deciding what was the proper way to express yourself [risas]. I worked with John Rodríguez, who helped me a lot to develop the vocal parts, step by step, because it was essential for me to pay tribute to this in the right way.
What can you tell me about the next album? Does it already have a name?
We record so much that I have music for three different albums [risas]. It was such a productive process; everything flowed perfectly every day. So, I’m going to be releasing new music until the end of 2022, and I’ll actually do it in three different chapters that will be like mini albums. The first one will be called “La Fuerza” and will celebrate my power as a woman, something that seems to me to be clear in “Pa my girls”, because Latin women are very strong and ardent, as well as the backbone of the family.
Why did you decide to invite Becky G, Nicki Nicole and Nathy Peluso for this first single? Becky’s case is interesting and a bit like yours, of course, because she is Mexican American and has struggled with Spanish, although she handles it quite well now.
I met Nathy when I was in Miami and was impressed with her talent, her music, her performance as an artist and the fire that comes out of her. It is a force of Nature. I also discovered Nicki, and I like to support young singers who come onto the scene, because women should support women. As for Becky, yes, it was important to have someone who is not one hundred percent [fluida en español] but it represents who we are. Each person processes it differently; There is no right or wrong way to celebrate your culture, and at this point, no one should feel ashamed or be judged.
As we show in the video [de la misma canción]We are a community in which each one must respect the other. We seek to create a very cinematic environment, something very sexy, very seductive; a world where everyone can be free and comfortable with who they are.
Speaking of which, you have been very clear in your support for the LGBTQ community, and that is an issue that is still rejected by various sectors of the Latino community. What would you say to those who think that way, to the usual macho men?
I have never been afraid to speak my truths, even if it does not make everyone feel comfortable with me. There are people who do not want to accept strong women. Progress has been made, little by little, and these are messages that I have always given, including my music in English. When I did “Lady Marmalade” [con Lil Kim, Mya y Pink] and I joined all those powerful women, the message was already empowering.
But the video for “Pa mis chicas” does not exclude men. What it proposes is a space of universal acceptance. There are people who must change in order to have a more open mind. The more we talk about it, the more they will understand that no one is trying to take anything away from them or feel superior.
There are still many cultural stigmas around the world, but the only thing I can do is be who I am, and appreciate and respect all strong women. As I said, women are the mainstay of the family, and it is natural that we honor them.
“Pa mis chicas” is musically influenced by the guaracha, and you mention precisely that term in the lyrics. What other Latin influences will the upcoming material have?
There are many. We have so much recorded. I’ve always liked being eclectic and I like a lot of different things, from soundtracks to classical music. I am everywhere. And that is also related to Latin music. As soon as we got to Miami, I told everyone that I was very inspired by Chavela Vargas and that I would love to be able to invoke her spirit in some way.
She had such a harsh voice, so intense and so real, and she approached the song in a very agonizing way. Regardless of whether you speak the language, it is a feeling, a passion; it’s practically like she’s crying, with a kind of tremor in her voice. I feel like she has been part of the project.
There are also other things that I adore, more current, such as references to reggaetón; and even a song that made me feel very vulnerable and that has to do with my relationship with my father. It is a ballad that alludes to the peace I made with my past, and as a mother, I am able to see things from another perspective. I can’t give you the titles yet, because they would kill me [risas].
Can you talk about the other collaborators of the project?
I think I am not yet authorized to do so. I’d like to share it all, but I can’t. There are going to be more collaborations, of course; people that I adore, people that inspire me. It is a project that is going to be revealed little by little.
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Christina Aguilera talks about her ambitious project in Spanish and her single with Becky G