Dominican Artist Amara La Negra Is Unapologetic About The Skin She's In
Amara doesn’t just love music — she eats it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and hardly ever feels the urge to wean off that diet. Her love for performing and giving the people something to remember is the air she breathes, the kind of stuff that feeds her soul and keeps her ample backside-afro’d-black woman self moving in the world.
As a result, the Miami born, Dominican singer is a far cry from the average 24-year-old woman today. She doesn’t have weekend getaways or Sex and the City nights with the gals. “My fun is performing,” Amara says to VIBE. “Growing up, my mom would ask, ‘Do you want to have fun or prepare for your future?’”
Having chosen the latter, La Negra (a term of endearment for dark-skinned women) would attend several arts programs. A privilege she was afforded thanks to her mom (and ride or die) who worked tirelessly to maintain. “I grew up with a single mother,” she explains. “My mom sacrificed a lot to give me a decent lifestyle. She worked up five jobs in order to maintain the household and still keep me in the music. I was in a dance academy; I used to dance Monday through Friday. I had acting classes and I had singing classes. I also had modeling classes. I was doing it all. My childhood pretty much revolved around my future. I don’t even know how to ride a bike or how to swim or even roller skate.”
I’ve always loved to perform. I’ve always loved to sing. I’m a great entertainer and it comes natural to me. All my life, I’ve been pretty much sure this is what I want to do.
But who needs skates when all the world is your stage? Amara never doubted her innate talent to entertain. “I earned my first trophy in 1991 –– I was born in 1990,” she states. “It was a beauty pageant, so I didn’t really know what was going on. But it was in my system. I’ve always loved to perform. I’ve always loved to sing. I’m a great entertainer and it comes natural to me. All my life, I’ve been pretty much sure this is what I want to do."
Fast-forward to 2015 and Amara is repping hard for Afro-Latinas and plump derrières all the while destabilizing traditional modes of sexuality in genres like Reggaetón.
For Amara to become increasingly popular in a Caribbean nation overflowing with racism (see Dominican Republic-Haiti relations), says a whole lot. What’s more, her in-your-face attitude and self-love is utterly swoonworthy and incredibly admirable. Perhaps it’s her unapologetic ways that demand our undivided attention.
“One of the reasons I’m so rebellious and I wear my hair from my head attached to my body, is because for many years I was told this bulls--t lie that in order to be beautiful, I had to have straight hair, because my hair was too ‘unmanageable’,” she explains. “Hello! I’m black. Yes, I’m going to have nappy and kinky hair. But that’s part of what makes me beautiful. And it took me years to know and realize that. I’m straightening and burning my hair for what? To please who?”
Meanwhile, back home near Allapattah, Miami (or “Little DR”), Amara is taking over the scene with her killer curves and infectious new single, “Asi,” which is laden with dembow and Brazialian funk.
For the uninitiated — no, she has no major-label backing or fancy campaigns pushing her work, a testament to her hustle and prowess behind the mic. And while Amara admits to feeling exhausted on some days, she shows no signs of stopping. Expect a reality TV feature on Oxygen next month (see Boss Nails) and a movie filming in DR in the near future.
One of the reasons I’m so rebellious and I wear my hair from my head attached to my body, is because for many years I was told this bulls--t lie that in order to be beautiful, I had to have straight hair, because my hair was too ‘unmanageable.’
Will the world get to see Amara perched at her throne? Will she make her mark á la Celia Cruz or Beyoncé? One thing’s for certain: she’s gunning for her legacy.
“When I die – which I’m not afraid of at all – I want people to remember me for being incredibly proud of who I am and where I come from. That I was never scared to chase a dream or stand up for what I believe in. And I want people to remember me for how I made them feel, through the music.“