Kárenly Nieves is a singer, writer and food and lifestyle blogger who was born and raised in Hormigueros/Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. She was the winner of the “Outstanding Vocalist Award” in the Berklee in Puerto Rico program in 2012 and is currently at Berklee College of Music focusing on achieving a bachelor’s degree in Music Business/Marketing. Now, on her fifth semester at Berklee, Kárenly works as a Spanish tutor and intern for LP’s Congahead Studios. She has been blessed to perform with bands such as the Migrant Motel, 427 Flavah Factory, the Ibetnia project, Latimbop, Amy Black and be part of Berklee ensembles such as the Indian Ensemble and the Recording Ensemble with Gabriel Goodman.
Shakira is an artist that we can all describe as unique. She has a singular voice and movements on stage that none of us can do with such confidence and passion. She is just one of the divas that we grew up with and admire while trying to imitate her hip movements. I couldn’t stop watching Thalía’s soap operas or music videos when I was a little girl. She was one of my inspirations. They all sparked something in me, a desire for singing with my heart and giving my all in every performance. Obviously, that was a dream.
In reality, I sang at church and, although I’m very thankful for that, I couldn’t really be myself. I’d give it my all while keeping my voice round so that it could sound like a group. That mindset taught me a lot about being mindful. Think about your position on the stage, your posture, listening to the cues in the music and paying attention to the little details. I loved it when I had to act in a song because it was up to me to make it seem, feel and sound real.
Choir is encrypted in my DNA. I started being in groups at age 4 and stayed in them through my first year in the University of Puerto Rico. There, everything got a twist. This time there were no instruments, just our voices. It was all about keeping time and staying in the right key. Edgar Vélez, Corium Canticus director, sure knows how to deal with dynamics and made every change in key and/or every movement very theatrical and unforgettable. I am very thankful for that experience because you never know how or when these lessons will open new opportunities and chapters in your life.
The Divas Latinas Show at Berklee was a project that I found by pure coincidence. I had never done anything like it, especially anything with the “diva” word involved. I love studying the ladies that have turned the music scene into a whole new experience for the public but I never thought that I could be one of them, not even for a second. Their big hair and shiny dresses are things that attract a lot of people but giving their soul in their concerts is what truly catches my attention. I applied as soon as I considered that maybe I could, for the first time, be myself on a Berklee stage.
Knowing my devotion to love and ballads, I couldn’t be happier to hear that I had been chosen and that my song was a Waltz. When the planning started, I realized that they referred to us as divas through e-mails and rehearsals. It was kind of hard for me to swallow at first, but then I said to myself, “Why not?” Sergio Torres, the producer of the show, was very encouraging and Monica Lyrae, the arranger of my song, gave her all to make it sound like a fairytale. When I heard the instrumentalists play the song for the first time, I realized that this chance was real. Then, they gave us a surprise medley of none other than Shakira. The great thing was that it felt familiar because I had encountered a group of individuals who were coming together to share a moment that we would never forget. There was a latin community focused on showing the world the beauty of our music and culture.
As I watched the other girls getting ready, I saw what I had studied for years. How our dressing code complimented our performances and how we were all different but supported each other. Even if there was any kind of situation between us, we were there that night making it happen. I recall seeing younger kids across the audience and trying to remember how that was like. Now, dreams were becoming reality and I was one step away from putting my name out there.
Honoring Mecano with their 80’s hit song “Hijo de la Luna” was a beautiful honor and a great responsibility. Cold hands while walking on stage felt like I was doing it for the first time that night. I looked around and saw that people were there to listen and experience something different and, this time, it was my turn become who I’ve always wanted to be and give my soul to whoever wanted to listen.
Special thanks to all the people who put time and effort into making this a hit: Sergio Torres, Monica Lyrae, Tania Balcazar, Matilde Soto, Maria Jose Rolón, Viayra Rivera, Marisol Fonseca, Tamara Herrera, Christina Rodríguez, Lily Vasquez, Vlade Guigni, Alexis Soto, Pablo Yescas, Elvin Rodriguez, Joaquin Bustamante, Victor Gonzalez, Felipe Durán, Jose Villa, Carlos Nogueras.