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Already being deemed "THE soundtrack for summer", STARS features Malena''s angelic, soulful vocals in both English and Spanish, accompanied by jazzy Latin grooves and downtempo rhythms. Hot. Don''t miss.

14 MP3 Songs
LATIN: Latin Jazz, ELECTRONIC: House

With a keen sense of heritage and true artistry in her blood, Malena Pérez is poised to make a memorable international debut with the release of her first full-length album, “STARS," a body of work sure to take listeners on a delicious sensory journey. Born in Atlanta, Georgia to a Cuban father and German mother, Pérez grew up listening to stories of her father’s homeland and the sounds of Omara Portuondo and Celia Cruz. In her own music, which blends Latin-flavored soul with downtempo, progressive jazz, the songstress explores these early influences and updates them for the modern lounge scene.

“My mother is a pianist and organist and so by default I was singing in the Atlanta Sacred Heart Church Children’s Choir at a very early age. My father started one of the longest-running Latin music radio shows in Atlanta on WRFG/Radio Free Georgia in the late seventies. So I grew up listening to Latin and Brazilian artists like Flora Purim, Mercedes Sosa and Astrud Gilberto and I feel like Latin music will always be at the heart for the music I make. But I’m also inspired by artists like Everything But the Girl, Sade and Minnie Riperton,” says Pérez, offering an explanation for her multi-layered sound.

While her parents were busy instilling a love of music in their daughter, they didn’t forget to educate her on her heritage. “I remember my father once put together an exhibit of rafts that Cubans used to come to the U.S. by water. Some of them just looked like broken branches. It amazed me what people went through to come to this country,” says Pérez, whose interest in the Caribbean diaspora has informed her artistic choices ever since.

Malena''s debut 12 vinyl single, Free To Fly (Divine Recordings), written and recorded with Atlanta producer Michael Johnson (KetchaVibe) and remixed by JustOne of KemeticJust, introduced her bilingual vocals and jazzy Latin grooves to the house scene in 2004. When DJs from around the world began playing the track in clubs and lounges, the song quickly made a name for the blossoming artist. Malena was shopping in a local record store one day when the shop owner recognized her, pulled her aside and announced, “I just got off the phone with the distributor [of "Free To Fly"]. It''s sold out. Do you have anything else?” Pérez knew she had to record more of her songs and find a way to release them. Her epiphany has led to the anticipated release of her album, “STARS,” a two year labor of love.

Malena currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is preparing for live performances to support the release of "STARS." For more information on Malena Perez and Cubanita Groove Records please visit https://www.tradebit.com or https://www.tradebit.com


WORLD FAMOUS Magazine, May 2006
by Chris Hall
The easiest comparison to make in regards to Malena Perez is also the hardest to make. As difficult as it is for me to compare anyone with Sade, that''s who Malena reminds me of. Both the legend and the newcomer succeed by exploiting the same strengths and overcoming the same weaknesses. Neither pushes the limits of their safe vocal range. Both are always backed by incredible production work. And both unfailingly tap into their listeners'' emotions.

"Surrender" is probably the best evidence for my Malena/Sade comparison. While most of the album has an underlying Latin feel, Carlos Niño takes a much simpler production angle that puts Malena''s vocals in the spotlight. Malena responds with a touchingly restrained turn that makes "Surrender" my new rainy day joint.

STARS as a production work is overwhelmingly dominated by the polyrhythms of Latin and African musics. Carlos Niño is joined on Malena''s production team by Alix Alvarez, Kenny Dope, Osunlade and Michael Johnson. With a group of producers that talented all bringing their A-game to the table, it would be hard for any singer to fail. Malena takes the incredible musicianship she''s blessed with and rather than trying to outshine it, she melds herself into the mood of things and in the process enhances the final result. It is that choice on her part that makes this album special.

PrefixMag, June 14, 2006

Malena Perez | Stars
Label: Cubanita Groove
4 out of 5 stars
By Norman Mayers

Cuban-American songstress Malena Perez debuted on the scene a few years ago with two vinyl releases, but with Stars, her debut artist album, this Latina deftly combines elements of house, jazz, soul and electronica into a strikingly emotional journey. Stars is the epitome of lounge coolness, swimming through its tracks with velvety ease. Wrapped in gauzy beats and bi-lingual lyrics, Stars takes world music to new heights.

Sade, Amel Larrieux, Jill Scott, Tracey Thorn and Omara Portuondo are just some of the influences Malena Perez calls out with pride on "Cubanita Groove" a track pulsing with Afro-Cuban rhythms. Perez only uses these accomplished artists as a jumping off point, confidently expressing her own musical vision on Stars. From quiet ballads to slinky electronica, Perez draws influence from life itself to create her wide reaching sound. The high points rest in the house and electronic elements with tracks like "Free To Fly" and "Praise the Day" setting the tone with their use of Latin percussion and heavy bass. "Surrender" is a soothing number propelled by a simmering trip-hop groove while "What Do I Do" ventures into drum and bass territory with its stuttering drums and moody atmosphere.

Lyrically Perez illustrates her world music vibe by switching between English and Spanish throughout the album, sometimes within the same track. Her voice is the perfect complement to the understated beats: soft, exotic and enchanting.

In a world where cultures are blending like never before, Malena Perez''s Stars is a sign of the times. Stars is truly a melting pot of musical and cultural influences that goes down just right.


This delightful album arrived just at the right time. With Nothern Germany skipping spring in 2006 and heading straight for pre-summer madness Malena Pérez’s debut album Stars offers the perfect soundtrack. This album has summer written all over it.

Only a few days ago I reviewed the Kenny Dope remix of Chase The Butterflies and while this version is a great latin house song, featured on Stars as a bonus track by the way, it only represents a small section of what Malena Pérez has to offer musically. In fact, now that I know the original album version I’d say this is the better version!

Malena Perez''s first single, the Michael Johnson produced Free To Fly, is also featured on Stars, and it’s a deep no-nonsense house inspired song with Malena singing in Spanish and English. The midtempo offbeat soul of Surrender shows that Malena feels at home in different music genres. Tomorrow is another highlight, this gently flowing latin breeze will certainly appeal to those who loved the second disc of Bah Samba’s double album 4.

Cubanita Groove is one of the best name-dropping grooves I have ever heard. Here we have Malena mentioning all her heros like Flora Purim, Sade, Minnie Riperton, Maya Angelou, Amel Larrieux, Tracey Thorn or Mercedes Sosa.

The next single, Praise The Day, is Malena’s collaboration with Osunlade. The result is an inspiring, percussion driven deep house affair that makes me wish Malena Perez and Osunlade would work together more often. Confesión is another house winner, this time Malena joined Alix Alvarez in the studio. Monet on flute gives this song that special something.

The album’s title track, Stars, is a welcome ballad with just Malena and sparse keys. Another highlight comes with What Do I Do, a modern soul song on which Malena reminds me a lot of Julie Dexter on her Dexterity album. And that’s not because Julie had a song called What Do I Do on this album as well. Malena’s own What Do I Do sounds more like a mixture of Julie’s Moving On meets a slower version of Ketch A Vibe.

Gracias A La Vida is - like Stars - an unornamented song with just Malena’s voice and one instrument. Here it’s a stringed instrument, which gives the song an artistic feeling and actually that’s the one song on Stars I needed a few listenings to really get into it. The hidden track, How Can I Keep From Singing, is a heartfelt a cappella with a nice gospel feeling.

In a nutshell Stars is a great debut album by Malena Pérez full of superduper deep house latin soul and then some and it’s THE summer album of 2006.

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