From Backup to Center Stage
“Drummer Boy” artist's debut album marks start of a new stage in her career.
By Claire Saylor
For many, playing Ricky Martin’s object of desire on tour and in video, having six Grammy nominated projects, a number one dance single, and co-composing songs for Sean Paul and the Black Eyed Peas, could be considered a lifetime of achievements. For Debi Nova’s multi-faceted musical career, it’s just the beginning. In her newly released first album, Luna Nueva, the Costa Rican artist showcases her voice, writing and multi-instrumental abilities, blending music styles, languages and beats into a thoughtful collection of 10 songs.
Creating this album has been a dream of Nova’s since her first piano lesson at the age four awoke her passion for music. She grew up with a grandfather singing Spanish Boleros and her mother’s family jamming out to Bossa Nova tunes. Between voice and bass lessons, immigrating to the United States, a break-through gig with Sergio Mendes and writing songs for some of the biggest names in the Latin Music World, the 24-year-old acquired the inspiration and experience to reach her goal.
Luna Nueva, which was released May 2010, is a project years in the making. Weaving together samba, flamenco, soca, hip-hop and acoustic guitar, the album represents Nova as a multi-talented artist, a Costa Rican and a Latina living in the United States. Song themes range from biographical to eco-conscious and spiritual, with the hit “Drummer Boy” calling the world to join together to dance to the same beat.
“I knew I wanted to dedicate myself fully to music and there was a whole world of possibilities out there,” Nova said on her decision to move to the United States at 17. The acoustic melody We were Young reflects on her following her heart, the first of many fateful steps that got her where she is today.
In Los Angeles, Debi enrolled in music classes at UCLA. Noting her talent and familiarity with Bossa Nova, a professor sent her to audition with Brazilian legend Sergio Mendes, which led to her role as guest vocalist in Mendes’ album “Timeless”. Her talent and positive energy earned her respect in the music world, generating more opportunities for artistic collaboration.
Eight years after her move to the states, Nova is described as the ‘next Shakira’ or the latina Sheryl Crowe. Her cat eyes, natural beauty and heritage appeal widely to a growing generation of young Latinos living in the states. Debi hopes to be a voice to this generation that speaks Spanish and balances Latino traditions with the American way of life.
As for her homeland, Nova said she misses her family, the food and the warm waters where she first learned to surf. “I have this ritual when I go home. I head straight to the beach to the same place and order a big casado,” she recalls fondly. The avid surfer counted Nosara, Playa Grande and Mal Pais amid her favorite beach hangouts.
During a recent visit to promote her album, Debi received a star’s welcome. Between interviews and performances – one as closing act for Costa Rica’s 2010 presidential inauguration – Debi admits she had an amazing time working close to her family and being able to present her new work to the Costa Rican people.
At just 24, Debi’s list of accomplishments includes:
Her first album, Luna Nueva, featuring 10 songs, all co-written by herself; produced by Decca Label Group and Gustavo Santaolalla’s Surco Records.
6 Grammy Nominated projects.
Featured vocalist in songs by Sergio Mendes, Ricky Martin, Sean Paul, the Black Eyed Peas, Mark Ronson, Norman Brown and Boney James.
Wrote songs for Belinda and RBD, Sean Paul, Black Eyed Peas and Mark Ronson.
First single “One Rhythm” reached #1 on Latin American and U.S. Dance charts in 2004.
Toured Latin America with Ricky Martin and was featured on two of his videos.