New York.– It's tough enough for a new artist trying to break through in a crowded market, says New York-based Dominican pop singer Anais.
It's even tougher when, on your first CD, you're singing styles of music you're not familiar with.
Anais is a pop singer who rose to fame on a Puerto Rican reality show, but she had to take on other styles such as salsa and reggaetón as producers sought to expand her appeal on her debut CD, Así Soy Yo.
"The hardest part was singing rhythms that I had never sung before," Anais says. "At first I wasn't sure how I was doing. I really didn't know if I sounded as good as we needed it to be. But the producer really helped me in the studio, telling me where I was sounding weak or needed a different tone."
Of course, it helped that the producer was top-flight New York studio wizard Sergio George.
"He helped me more than just as a producer," she said. "He was like a vocal coach, which is not something producers get into. He really guided me, pointing out my strengths and weaknesses and showing me different song arrangements that worked better."
So, would she consider the CD a success?
"To me, this first album is a major accomplishment," Anais said. "I had dreamed of this for many years. So many people kept asking me, 'OK, when is that album of yours coming out?' "
The album peaked at No. 7 on Billboard's Latin pop album chart.
The first single, Lo que Son las Cosas, has been in the Top 10 on five Latin-music charts in Billboard. This includes a reggaetón version with Puerto Rican rapper Voltio and a duranguense version with Alacranes Musical.
The album also includes guest artists La Sister and Bimbo and is packaged with a nine-track DVD.
Lo que Son las Cosas was written by Luis Ángel Márquez and first made famous by the popular Puerto Rican singer Ednita Nazario.
"Lo que Son las Cosas is a song about running across an old flame," Anais said. "I think a lot of people identify with the lyrics."
While Anais (full name Anais Martínez) is a new recording artist, her name is not new to followers of Objetivo Fama, an American Idol-style show that airs in Puerto Rico. (It can be seen in the United States on the Telefutura network.) Last May she was crowned the winner and awarded a recording contract with Univisión Records.
Lo que Son las Cosas was the song Anais sang on Objetivo Fama.
"That song was done by one of my first heroes, Ednita Nazario," Anais said. "When they gave it to me to sing, I was really happy. And we included it (on the CD) because so many people associated that song with me from the show."
Anais also counts Mexican singers José José, Ana Gabriel and Ana Bárbara as primary influences.
"José José always had the best songs to sing, and he has a sweetness in his voice," she said. "And in rancheras, Ana Gabriel always brings out so much emotion."