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Cuban Mey Vidal canta Latin reggae

The fact that she was born less than 100 miles off the shores of Jamaica explains it. But more than anything else, her seeming undying love for reggae music is probably what has created this feeling of familiarity.

For some time, her home away from home was the Arrows Recording Studio on Windward Road, Kingston, where her musical career was being developed through strategic collaborations with a variety of singers and producers in the Jamaican and Latin reggae fraternity.
That is the making of a Latin/reggae singer Mey Vidal, born in the small town of Palma Soriano in Santiago de Cuba, the nearest point on that Spanish-speaking country to Jamaica.

She is yet another musical pilgrim in the growing stream of offshore reggae converts who have been flooding Jamaica one after the other in recent years. In the 1950s, Cuba's popular music, called Merengue, was quite a staple in Jamaica. Generations later comes Mey Vidal with Latin reggae, maintaining this tradition of cross culturalisation.

"You know, my interest in reggae started at (age) 10 when I lived in Santiago, Cuba, the closest part of Cuba to Jamaica, and my parents would tune in to the Jamaican radio stations and would listen to all the reggae artistes and that's how I got a flavour of the music and I just became in love with it," Mey Vidal told the Sunday Observer in an exclusive interview from Miami, Florida where she now lives with her family.

Already, she has completed recording 14 tracks for her maiden full-length album, which will include her first commercial single, Never Gonna Give Up, produced by Arrows' Phillip Linton on the new rhythm, Tears.

Other tracks on the set are Mira Mira, produced by Sly and Robbie; Hey Papi by Downsound Records with a Latin-flavoured remix by top Puerto Rico/Miami-based producer Sam Fisher who produced Daddy Yankee's million-selling single Rompe; and Bye Bye Adios with inputs from Steely and Clevie. The album also includes collaborations featuring ace dancehall duo Tanto Metro and Devonte and rising international reggae artiste, Da'Ville.

"Right now, we are going to be re-releasing the single Hey Papi with Sony, and then we are releasing the original song which was done on a rhythm by Downsound Records, the rhythm is called Get Used To It," she explained.

"We just finished the remix with a Puerto Rican producer, Sam Fisher, who did most of the tracks for Daddy Yankee's last music album and also Daddy Yankee's movie. So with those two different versions of Hey Papi, we're going to be releasing that single, and if all goes well we're going to be releasing the full album with Sony," added the former lead singer with her hometown salsa band Vine Street Rumba.

The set comes with its fair share of Reggaeton (Puerto Rican style) influences. Mey Vidal was among the first set of females representing the Reggaeton movement which basically set out to capture the heart of bilingual audiences. The effort has earned her the appellation 'Esa Cubana'.

Her songs, she said, are very popular in Cuba. "But unfortunately, there, they only play them in the streets, because whatever is played on the TV and on the radio, it has to go through the Government, and the Government doesn't really favour that kind of stuff, so it's very hard to get it on the radio. So it's an underground type of thing. Luckily, the people like it, and they burn and made copies and give them to each other and basically enjoy the music."

Mey Vidal has been making the rounds promoting her forthcoming set with several visits to Jamaica, which landed her a Reggae Sunsplash stint last year and a trip to MIDEM in Cannes, France where she distributed promotional copies - featuring songs such as the Tide Is High, Coco Jamboo and Talk About Love - to nightclubs and radio stations.

In her search for opportunities, Mey Vidal has participated in Fox Television's American Idol, CBS TV's Star Search, and Univision's Gigante Del Manana. Prior to that, she won first place in the first talent contest she had ever entered, Sabado Giante (Univision), and Fiesta Giante (Telefuture).

During that time, Mey Vidal said she was also TV hostess and songwriter/vocalist of the Next Level TV programme where she came up with the hit theme song, Don't Stop Me Now.

The 26-year-old entertainer, who left her homeland 16 years ago, is looking forward to returning to Jamaica. "As of right now, nothing has been scheduled, but I sure see myself in Jamaica again," she said, "because I'm stuck on my reggae, and what I sing is reggae - Latin reggae, but it's still reggae."

Source: Jamaica Observer

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