Introducing GALE: The Puerto Rican Songwriter Stands Out as a Solo Artist

GALE, courtesy.

The first time Puerto Rican artist Carolina Isabel Colón Juarbe visited Napa, with her parents and their friends, she was 16 years old. The group spent a few weeks in San Francisco before heading to wine country.

“We went to all these vineyards and I couldn’t drink anything. … They were like, ‘Oh, this is so good! Oh, that’s amazing,” said Juarbe, now better known as LARGE WIND (pronounced Gah-leh). “I remember being like, ‘Father, you are so unfair because you took me there when I was 16. I couldn’t try anything. We have to do it again.

GALE, now 28, an established songwriter (her credits include Christina Aguilera, Anitta, Juanes and Cardi B) and rising artist, finally returned to Napa Valley earlier this month for Live in the Vineyard, where she was able to perform alongside Kany García and others. She has also recently released several singles and has an album in the works for mid-2023. All of this accelerates the momentum of her career, which she knew she wanted since she was a child.

“I wanted to be a professional singer. … I wrote my first song when I was 7 years old. I started keeping a diary when I was 6,” she said. “When I read these things [now], I’m like, ‘Oh my God; what a dramatic little girl! »

Gale was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, a hilly region in the north of the island. Her biological father (her parents divorced when she was 10, and she remained close to both her father and, later, her late stepfather) played in bands. His grandfather was a cuatro player. And her mother was a theater actress.

“Music has always been in my house,” GALE said. “My mom was always into 80s rock and rock and roll and salsa [lover]and my father has always been very bohemian [with] the boleros, old songs.

Growing up, GALE’s family often called him to perform at family events. Her biological father encouraged her, asking for two songs and saying it would prepare her to perform in front of people when she was older. These two songs would often turn into 10s.

“I would have either been super traumatized or I would have been awesome, and thank God it’s been awesome,” she said.

After Juarbe’s mother remarried and her stepfather came into her life, he also encouraged and supported her at every opportunity. While she felt comfortable performing for friends, she was introverted in public.

Her stepfather, who died of cancer last summer, came up with the idea of ​​putting her in a songwriting camp when she was 16. She was scared, but he helped her realize that she needed to overcome that fear and helped her pursue her greatest goals.

“Even if he was not a musician, he was the one who pushed me to do everything. … After that, I always did things ‘with fear,’” she said, explaining that’s how she knew when she needed to overcome an obstacle.

At this point, GALE moved with his mother and stepfather to San Juan, the capital, to pursue an artistic education at a specialized school, studying guitar and classical singing. In college, she was a member of the famous Black Box Theater Workshop, which allowed her to shake off stage fright and become a better performer.

She starred as Mimi in “Rent” and Wendla Bergmann in “Spring Awakening,” among other roles. The theatrical scene is big in Puerto Rico and only grew thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda, who staged “In The Heights” on the stage where GALE had performed with Black Box. While GALE said theatrical performances are now behind her, she’s still interested in giving movies a shot at some point.

2017 was an important year for GALE’s musical career. By this point, she had released numerous songs—Spanish television network Univision had selected one, “Levántate,” as the official song for a major North American soccer tournament—performed in Puerto Rico, and self-released a acoustic guitar centered on debut album, Sin Sentido Spirals.

Promotion for the album came to an abrupt halt when Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September.

“Of course it was terrible, and obviously my music wasn’t the main thing on my mind,” GALE said. “At that time, it was more like making sure my family was okay, everyone in PR was okay.”

His family’s home was flooded, but compared to the damage to much of the rest of the island, San Juan was spared.

“It was bad. Even now, we’re still recovering from that, but a lot of people got together and a lot of people helped each other,” she said. “I feel like it’s something that describes and characterizes us as Puerto Ricans.”

Her family also fared well with Fiona, the last hurricane to pass through the island, in September.

“I get these little seconds of joy and then I think of everyone and the people who really need help. Then I’m broken again,” GALE said. “There are a lot of people working, lots of organizations that help rebuild homes for people.”

After Maria, GALE moved to Miami, where she landed a publishing deal as a songwriter with Warner Chappell and found success working as a sort of therapist, in her words, helping artists to expressing honest emotions in a comfortable setting, which led to songs. they are connected.

GALE, Carolina Isabel Colon Juarbe

GALE, courtesy.

Her favorite co-writes so far have come with Pharrell Williams and, more recently, her childhood inspiration Shakira. The latter is a song that has yet to be released.

“It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve written, for real, and it’s really honest and brutal and beautiful,” GALE said, adding that she didn’t know how Shakira envisioned it. utilize. “I hope it’s in his album. I hope she releases it as a single.

Another career highlight came working with fellow idol Christina Aguilera.

“I used to practice every scary race, every song when I was 7, 8, and obviously I couldn’t do it, but I didn’t care,” she said. “I had a microphone and I practiced… Mi Reflejo(My reflection), his first album in Spanish. It was my jam. I knew every part, every breath, everything.

“Then when I worked with her and she heard the demo of the song we did, she was like, ‘Do you sing?’ … ‘I like your voice’, and I [screamed] inside, ‘Aghhh!’ But I was like, ‘Thank you. I love your voice.'”

This work with Aguilera recently earned GALE a Latin Grammy nomination for Album of the Year for the singer’s self-titled album.

Even more crucial in GALE’s career as a solo artist was working with Colombian superstar Juanes.

“When he heard me sing, he was like, ‘What’s happening to you? Why aren’t you an artist? What do you need? How can I help you? “, did she say.

Soon after, he connected GALE with his current manager.

She continued to work on her own music on the side, and one day the president of Sony’s Latin division found out about her and asked to listen to her. Just like that, she got a new contract as an artist.

While his first songs from Sin Sentido Spirals were organic and simplistic, GALE wanted to start from scratch and reinvent itself with the more pop and bombastic songs it is releasing this year.

GALE described her sound as a mix of Bad Bunny with Dua Lipa and Avril Lavigne. There are various Latin influences, from reggaeton to dancehall, as well as hip-hop (she said rapping the second verse identifies her as Puerto Rican) to bright pop and a bit of pop-punk.

His two most recent singles are the guitar-driven rockers “Problemas,” which reached the Top 15 on Billboard’s Latin Airplay chart, and “D-Pic.”

She will follow them with a few more singles and hopes to release an album in the middle of next year which will be influenced by her breakup from a three-year relationship. The album will chronologically go through each post-breakup stage. Even his latest, on unsolicited sexting, is history.

“Everything with this guy in the beginning was pretty physical and… superficial. And it started like that,” she said. “I love this album because I’m releasing it in a certain order. …I’m very conceptual as an artist. I like to connect everything.

Follow editor Roman Gokhman on Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter.

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