Daniela Andrade’s rich musical portrait

By Camille Hine

Daniela Andrade is a singer who was first popularised during her high school years a decade ago through her cover songs of classic pop songs like ‘Crazy in Love’ by Beyonce (93M views), ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley (Spotify 74M views), and ‘La Vie en Rose’ by Edith Piaf (109M views) – a song that particularly resonates with me. Her cover song of ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley was featured in the second season of the Netflix show Umbrella Academy, 6 years after it was released on YouTube.

I first heard her singing 8 years ago featured in Dabin’s electronic dance song ‘Hold’; I fell in love with Daniela Andrade’s angelically powerful voice. This song entirely changed my relationship with music, initiating my first big exploration into styles that I liked for myself. Found through my brother who introduced me to the electronic music YouTube channel MrSuicideSheep where ‘Hold’ was featured, Daniela Andrade’s music has continued to inspire me throughout my life and has flowed into many of my relationships.

Once Daniela had gained much traction online, she began to produce music that explored her own identity and particularly her Honduran roots.

Born to parents who immigrated from Honduras in 1987, as a Canadian-Honduran individual with a very musical Honduran father, the unique, diverse melodic music of Latin America trickled through her veins

To see the impact her dad has had on her Honduran-inspired musical creativity, see her cover song on YouTube of ‘Si Nos Dejan’ that she sang with her dad 12 years ago. The music video is clearly full of love and devotion to her dad.

Growing up, her mother held the casting vote for music played at home. Her dad’s favourite Spanish musicians, José Luis Perales and Julio Iglesias – who sang balladeers (intimate musical ballads) and mariachi music – were often rejected. Her parents disapproved of her love of Latina artists like Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, Jennifer Lopez, and Shakira. With parents deeply entrenched in their religiosity, they often viewed the sensuality of this music as sacrilegious, and thus growing up, she felt conflicted by this dichotomy of femininity represented in Latino culture: the woman who oozes sensual passion, and the woman who simply remains within her religious purity. In some sense when she began making her own independent music, this was a step of liberation for her, delving into her self-exploration through Latina music.

“My music truly is a portrait of who I am, and what I’ve been through”

In an interview with CBC, Andrade expressed the tension she felt as a Canadian-Honduran woman, torn between embracing her inner sensuality and remaining a pure Christian woman: “I just felt like I had to choose… Either I’m this super conservative woman that dresses a kind of way and represents herself a kind of way. Or, if I want to choose music, which is secular, then am I the other side of the spectrum?”.

The year 2019 seemed to be the year she found sexual liberation through music, as reflected in the release of her empowering album, Tamale. The album exudes sensuality with spine-tingling songs such as ‘Ayayai’ and ‘Wet Dreams’, that not only encapsulate her own sensuality but enables the listener to connect with their inner sexuality. Aside from these two musical encapsulations of sensuality, the entire album possesses a seductive mood in which she sings about herself, her roots, her family, her relationships, and so much more.

This album is distinguished by its smooth fusion of English and Spanish influences, acting as a true representation of who she is as a Canadian-Honduran singer from Québec.

“Look inside yourself and see what happens when you listen”

The name ‘Tamale’ comes from a Mexican dish of seasoned meat and maize flour, something she notes in the album’s first song ‘Tamale’ (she also names another song off this album after the Central American dish, Gallo Pinto). Tamale is a dish that is personally very important to Daniela’s heritage as she used to make it with her mother and sisters when she was younger. These songs further search for her meaning of what it means to be a woman and what it means for our role as providers – thus exploring and challenging the social expectations of women that many people simply accept. The challenge of social expectations is underlined in ‘Gallo Pinto’, “Look inside yourself and see what happens when you listen”, showing how she is living her authentic self.

I also found a song she only published in an Instagram post around four years ago, near the time Tamale was released, that encapsulates how she was living a moment of feminist, sexual, and secular liberation with the refrain being “All the women are independent”. This embodies the new generation of Latina women challenging the traditional, patriarchal, religious control of women.

Growing up in Canada she never felt like she quite fit in, emanating within herself a feeling that she was different but not quite understanding why. She says, “I went to a Dutch high school and didn’t realise how being the only Honduran affected me until I got older.” Even in her song ‘Tamale’ she sings about how growing up she felt personally out of place, noting that unlike many others around her who could create a façade in which they were seen as ‘normal’, her physical appearance prevented her from being able to just blend into the background.

“Hair so curly, skin Honduran / Growing up I felt so foolish / Normal never really cut it”

Through her music, Daniela reconnects with her cultural roots, understanding herself in a much deeper way, and deepening her emotional bond with her parents. In filming the music video for ‘Genesis’ (the first song she produced herself) Daniela planned on producing the video in Honduras; however, due to ongoing civil unrest, she had to produce the video in Mexico instead. Even though she was not able to travel to Honduras and could only be in Mexico for a week, her experience of Mexico was a soul-fulfilling moment in which she felt like she fit into the Latin American culture, enabling her to more deeply understand herself and feel a profound sense of belonging.

Acknowledging that Honduras and Mexico have unique cultural elements because of their distinct regional histories, geographic influences, and demographics, she also highlights that the two countries share cultural ties which are rooted in indigenous heritage and Spanish Colonial influence. Because of this, when she travelled to Mexico she says “I felt really connected to the language, the people. I felt like I was seeing my mom at every corner”. Therefore, the creation of her album Tamale really worked as both a culmination of deepening her understanding and connection with her parents, where she came from, and who she is, as well as distancing herself from her parents’ expectations of her as a religious Latina woman. We undoubtedly see that this album was a devotion not only to herself, but also to her immigrant parents. A lyric in ‘Gallo Pinto’ encapsulates this perfectly: “This one’s for my mami, this one’s for my dad / Gave up everything to give me / What they couldn’t have”.

Daniela Andrade’s music portrays the experience of second-generation Latinos whose parents immigrated from Latin America for their children to have better opportunities. They grew up differently to their parents yet still feel their culture budding inside them. She viscerally exemplifies how through creativity – whether it be music, art, or literature – second-generation individuals can let loose their emotions, understand themselves, and celebrate their culture.

“Man, it’s an incredible thing to be a Latina woman”

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