The existence of a potent whisper presents itself through singer-songwriter Calma Carmona’s vocals. Hailing from Puerto Rico, the singer blends her Latin soul sound with bilingual Spanish-English lyrics. Calma’s soft voice befits the English translation of her alias as “calm.” Though calm in tone, Calma has a controlled power that’s manifest in the dimensions of her voice range. Calma’s soulful goodness has lead her from the underground scene in 2009 to opening for Beyoncé in Puerto Rico last year.
In this premiere of Calma’s latest single, “Dancing in the Dark,” the songstress enlists the aid of Frequency – the Grammy Award-winning producer behind Eminem and Rihanna’s “The Monster.” The mellow, seductive rhythm coupled with Calma’s delicate, smoky vocals channel an early Erykah Badu vibe (circa 2000 “Didn’t Cha Know”). Along with the unveiling of “Dancing in the Dark,” Calma speaks to us about her unique, Latin-influenced artistry.
Life + Times: Opening for Queen Bey! What an amazing opportunity! How was it performing ahead of her for the Mrs. Carter tour? Did she give you any knowledgeable Bey-isms?
Calma Carmona: It was surreal and truly unforgettable. Although I didn’t get to meet her, there was a moment during her show when she winked at me. And to me, that said everything – more than any picture or shout out. It felt very personal and human. She is a true pro. She came straight in from her flight, no sound check, killed it, and then went on to catch her next flight. Beyoncé leads by example. Just for her to give me that opportunity – that spoke volumes to me.
L+T: Your Latin soul sound is both unique and caters to an audience open to hybrid genres. How has living in Puerto Rico influenced you as an artist?
CC: Although I’ve lived the majority of my life in Puerto Rico, as an “army brat” I was raised between Texas, Germany, and Puerto Rico to name a few. All of the places I’ve lived are definitely a part of me, the way I walk, the way I talk, the way I dress, and most definitely the way I make my music. Puerto Rico is very rich in its music and culture. Those Afro-Caribbean rhythms just run through my blood regardless [of] where I am at or what language I’m singing in.
L+T: Now, Calma Carmona is your artist name, not your birth name. What made you choose this as your alias?
CC: My birth name is Myraida Desiree Carmona. In Puerto Rico, there’s a saying that goes “Cojelo con calma, Carmona” meaning “Take it easy, Carmona.” When I started recording, one of my friends used to say that to me all the time. See, I’m a very persistent and specific person. I know what I want and I’m very vocal and persistent about it. So, it just stuck with me.
L+T: Lyrically you sing in both English and Spanish. I find from experience that the language you get angry in or the language that seeps out when you’re really excited is your native tongue. How are you able to distribute that same passion you have when you sing in Spanish to when you sing in English?
CC: I feel passionate in both languages. I have so much love and respect for soul music. It look me a few years to try and make the feeling and emotion feel as seamless as possible in Spanish and in English. One of my inspirations on how to make it seamless is Ralfi Pagan from La Fania.
L+T: How did you get in touch with Frequency for partnership on “Dancing in the Dark”? And what made you feel that he served as a needed component for the track?
CC: Before the “Monster” track existed, we met through a mutual friend on one of my visits to New York City, got in the studio, hit it off, and worked as though we’ve worked together before. So, it felt right [and] natural to keep working with him.
L+T: Not to sound cliché, but we all must know – what’s next for you in 2015?
CC: It’s very important for me to put out my first album, Girl On A Bridge, this year. As an independent and female artist it’s a huge challenge, but it wouldn’t be worth it if it wasn’t.
L+T: Lastly, what are you aiming to achieve as a singer-songwriter?
CC: To keep challenging myself, my music, and the music industry. To have something to contribute to in music, to keep connecting with people, and to keep finding my purpose though my passion.