With a sigh of exhaustion, Amara La Negra clicks open another news article that outlines American concert cancelations as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Latin pop singer, author, dancer, and actress has been building entrepreneurially since her heydays entertaining as a child star on Spanish-language TV. Now more than ever, the Miami-bred Dominicana‘s ambitions are honed by her innovations within the mainstream — most of which face delays. “I am multi-tasking while I am taking this interview,” she says on speakerphone. “Woo! I’m online reading a coronavirus story that says musical artists may not be able to do concerts until the fall of 2021. That is very scary.”
La Negra‘s fear of the unknown is shared among creative professionals at-large, and quite frankly with the world. Amid COVID-19’s fluctuating stay-at-home orders, triggered unemployment rates, and a global death toll that exceeds 200,000 — livelihoods are threatened on multiple fronts. Even so, Amara La Negra turns to social media in hopes of coping with the mental effects of these conditions, unifying her followers through new music.
“Ándale,” her latest collaboration with distinguished producer, Kevin “Khao” Cates, brought listeners her rap debut and a CashApp-backed viral dance challenge. “Beyond health, this is messing everybody’s money up. I don’t want fans to become overwhelmingly discouraged. Right now, $500 can come in very handy,” Amara La Negra explained.
To her core fanbase, contributions like the dance challenge are habitual. The multi-hyphenate routinely uplifts her supporters through shared affirmations and extends her resources across online platforms, as well as, philanthropically. And while Amara La Negra is arguably known for her distinctness on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Miami, to limit the Afro-Latina’s North American prominence to the likes of reality television figures would be erroneous. The luminary has longtime educated the masses on the beauty of her blackness.
Racism remains prevalent throughout the Caribbean, and amid her doing the complex work of tackling colorism, Amara La Negra remains dedicated to uplifting her beloved República Dominicana. And yet, much of cyberspace still draws upon ahistorical hatred. La Negra‘s social media accounts are often ridden with attacks questioning the authenticity of her Latinidad or the duality of her personality. At the swipe of a cell phone screen, the entertainer can be found either twerking down her follower’s timelines or sharing scripture verses aloud via Instagram Live.
Let’s be honest. If we are saying it plainly, the “What a Bam Bam” crooner’s adaptability is cross-examined because many Top 40 favorites don’t possess that range. The Knockturnal connected with Amara La Negra to reflect on her donation of 100,000 pesos to the Dominican Republic, navigating toward wellness during a time of uncertainty, and her latest release during the open-ended quarantine.
The Knockturnal: Your recent collaboration, “Ándale” with producer Kevin ‘Khao’ Cates features timely single artwork. With consideration of the COVID-19 pandemic, is the diamond face mask you are wearing in the image a coincidence?
Amara La Negra: To be honest, this was a complete coincidence. When we did the photoshoot, the pandemic had not even been announced. It was pure.
The Knockturnal: Tell fans about recording this new release.
Amara La Negra: Actually, the studio session for the tune was very different! It was innovative because I have never written or recorded a rap song in the way that I handled “Ándale” before. I, obviously, have been influenced by hip-hop culture. You know, I am on Love & Hip-Hop: Miami, so I was trying to do something different musically. Everyone knows me for Caribbean-inspired tracks. People have listened to more fusion or Latin-based music by me. Still, I think that the single, “Ándale” came out well.
The Knockturnal: In comparison to your previous work, how long did it take for you to pen these verses since you were rapping for the first time?
Amara La Negra: Well, it took me a little bit longer. Yeah, it took me a second! [Laughs] This is only because the writing was completely different on “Ándale.” My verses were not based on the song’s melodies. That is what I am accustomed to [framing around]. Honestly, I really enjoyed recording. We had an amazing experience collaborating with songwriters to make these raps happen. I am grateful that people enjoyed the music so much.
The Knockturnal: What music are you enjoying? You consider yourself to be a Latin pop star. Who are some of your favorite Latinx artists at the moment?
Amara La Negra: Wow! The list is endless. Okay, I love Ozuna. I love Karol G. I love Becky G. There are so many amazing artists right now. Bad Bunny has great music as well. Then there is J Balvin and Farruko to listen to. Yeah, there is just a lot of great music out there.
The Knockturnal: To keep your fans entertained during quarantine, you launched the “Ándale” dance challenge, which became a viral moment. What are some of your current highlights?
Amara La Negra: There are most definitely highlights en route. Unfortunately, quarantine has stalled the timelines of what I have [in motion]. For example, I was in the process of working on a TV show in LA. I was actually moving to Los Angeles for three months. As a result of COVID-19, production has stopped.
The pandemic affects all the festivals, concerts, and artist happenings. Now it is just about us being creative and innovative. Recently, on social media, I had a concert for Billboard Live. Also, there is my children’s book, Amarita’s Way available through Amazon. I am already working on the second edition. The next novel will be about bullying.
Fans should know that I am at home right now, too. While I am here, there is still a lot of work to do. The “Ándale” dance challenge recently gave away $500 on CashApp to the dancers who submitted the best video. It was very easy. Right now, $500 can come in very handy.
Stay tuned to my Instagram Live, there will be a different concept to unpack each day. For instance, on Sunday I hosted a Bible reading. As an entrepreneur, I have productive Mondays [where my followers and I organize] our goals. There is a girl talk on Tuesday to interact with the ladies. Yes, I’m trying to maintain active on social media with my fanbase.
Also, my platform is extended to help others promote their businesses and on-the-rise musicians promote new music. Everybody is struggling right now. So, I want to do everything that I can as an influencer. As you can imagine, I’m encouraging people to stay at home!
The Knockturnal: You recently donated 100,000 pesos to the Dominican Republic for food. Walk your fans through that experience.
Amara La Negra: I continue to support DR, no matter what. Clearly, I wish I had more money to give away to everyone. But I’m only one person. To be honest, I am fearful of the virus… like everyone else. A lot can happen fast.
We don’t know how long this shutdown is going to take place, so I put my little bit of support out by joining forces with Don Miguelo, the artist. He is Dominican. I donated 100,000 which is about $2,000 in American currency. Yet, in the Dominican Republic, $2,000 can feed a lot of people.
In total, we were able to feed about 125 families. There was plenty of bread, rice, water, canned foods, and all that good stuff. After that, I donated another 100,000 pesos. Now I am looking to see if I can help our brothers and sisters in Haiti. They are right around the corner.
Again, I want to help those in need. There is a friend of mine, El Chevo. He is a well-known artist in Honduras. People are truly going through it in Honduras. Please understand, I want to use my voice and platforms to direct and encourage everyone to donate if they are in a position to give.
We can’t deny a lot of families are financially frustrated, but not everybody is in the same situation. Some people have money. Some people have millions of dollars to give. I am trying to encourage those people to help in whichever way they can.
In the meantime, I maintain communication with my loved ones in the Dominican Republic. I want my family to be good, and I always ask if there is anything I can do. Obviously, we can’t travel there. The little I have done in DR has helped a lot of people. So, that is all that matters to me.
The Knockturnal: Ahead of the COVID-19 shutdowns, you were honored at the Annual International Women In Power Luncheon. How was that event?
Amara La Negra: It was a fabulous experience. Actually, I cried because I feel like people can be so judgemental. Everyone has something to say about me online. But nobody knows how hard I have had to work to get to where I am today. It took a lifetime.
It takes a lot of courage, balls, and guts to stand up to colorism, and racial issues. This is not only [in my] community. To come and publicly speak out against [injustice], and then to be acknowledged for efforts — that meant a lot to me. I am grateful to know that I have been able to inspire and motivate others.
At the end of the day, that is what is really important. I do not do it to get any sort of acknowledgment. When you do things, you should do them out of your heart. But when you are acknowledged for your efforts and work, it still feels nice.
The Knockturnal: I believe the Latinx community is most familiar with that work, and maybe the newer members of your North American fanbase are being brought up to speed. Your success began as a child and through dance. What are some of your fondest memories early on in your career?
Amara La Negra: Yes, I started as a child star! In that process, I began doing additional television. Some people do not know I became a background dancer for many major celebrities in the Latin music industry. That was a great experience. I grew up in that environment.
Still, I reached a place in life where I said, “I no longer want to dance for other people. I want them to dance for me.” There is only so much you can do as a dancer. Yeah, there are limits.
Dancing is still a very big part of my career. It helps you stay fit. By way of the “Ándale” dance challenge, we were able to inspire others to move. It offered a great workout during the quarantine. Music can transform your spirit and energy. You just feel something when are dancing.
The Knockturnal: You sound upbeat. You’ve gone to great lengths to ensure your fans feel validated. What is your message to them amid all of this?
Amara La Negra: My message to my listeners is to stay positive. We have to stay encouraged. Have faith in God. We are going to be okay. It is tough, but we are going to overcome this. Also, stay at home! Please stay home. We need this to be over.
It is going to take some time. So, we should do as much as we can to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Beyond health, this is messing everybody’s money up. The current circumstances are interfering with overall well-being and everyone’s projects.
Figure out refreshed ways to educate yourself. Remain productive, but stay safe. I don’t want my fans or the people that follow me, in general, to become overwhelmingly discouraged. Again, it is most definitely not over.
The Knockturnal: Amara, thanks for checking in during the quarantine. Please take another moment to plug away for readers.
Amara La Negra: Follow me across social media platforms, at @amaralanegraaln. Press play on my new single, “Ándale.” Go check it out! My children’s book, Amarita’s Way is available.
To stay the most up to date, visit my website: www.amaralanegra.com. Also, you may purchase my merchandise on there, like the Amara La Negra pillows. [Laughs] I am grateful to my supporters and your platform. Stay tuned for my [continued announcements on] Instagram Live. There is just so much on the way.