Laura Catana dives deep into the music of Puerto Rico to offer recommended new gems and some classic mujeres.
puerto rican women musicians
Calma Carmona. Photo: Roniel Gonz

With so much going on in the world right now, don’t you sometimes want to just tune it all out with some loud music and headphones? While it seems the rest of the world is busy listening to Cardi B, I’ve been diving deep into the music of Puerto Rico and have stumbled upon some new gems and rediscovered some classics. I’ve put together a short playlist of boricua women making great music, because every day is a good day to celebrate mujeres!

1. Lavoski + ÌFÉ — Estamos Bien

If you aren’t yet familiar with Puerto Rico based percussionist and producer ÌFÉ, please stop right now and listen to this song that changed my life. Fusing Afro-Cuban rumba with electronic beats in a way nobody has quite done before, leadman Otura Mun has created a completely hypnotizing sound that will connect you to your inner spirituality. His quarantine rendition of Bad Bunny’s “Estamos Bien” features Lavoski, the newest vocal addition to the group. You probably didn’t realize that you needed to hear a rumba version of this hit reggaeton song, but now that you have, you’re welcome.  

2. Musaraña – Munchie Sexual 

I give total credit to any artist that manages to break both musical and mind barriers, and that’s exactly what Musaraña has done with their debut single, “Munchie Sexual.” Musaraña is the musical child of Puerto Rican María Laboy and multi-instrumentalist Andrés Rigau who describe the track as a “Latin surrealistic explosive trip of all those random thoughts and feelings that incubate when our sexual desires accumulate.” With a driving, percussive beat that calls for your best merengue dance moves paired with Laboy’s playful vocals, “Munchie Sexual” is totally out there. And I kind of love it. 

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3. Piquete — Fluir

Piquete delivers a delicious concoction of global beats and rhythms. It’s a little bit of Caribbean flair, a little bit of Brazilian groove, combined with hip hop and neo soul vocals, and it’s as exciting as it sounds! As part of the ‘New Latin Wave’ of artists, Piquete sometimes calls their music Neo Plena and Bomba Groove. Do you need one more reason to love Piquete? The band is led by female percussionist, Miosoti Alvarado, something we don’t see nearly enough. With an endearing, homemade music video made during COVID-19, I’m definitely a new fan of Piquete!

Related Post: Puerto Rican Drummer Henry Cole Is a Master of his Craft

4. iLe – Tu Rumba

Though she got her start singing alongside older brothers Rene and Eduardo, better known as Puerto Rican hip hop legends Calle 13, iLe is now two albums deep into a vibrant solo career. iLe is opinionated and political, often singing about injustices and corruption in Puerto Rico, like her powerful video for “Odio” that tells the story of the controversial killing of two activists by the Puerto Rican government. My favorite track on her newest album, Almadura, is the bomba-inspired “Tu Rumba” that highlights the deep African heritage that is so present in Puerto Rico today. 

5. Calma Carmona – Sentir

With her sultry, soulful voice, a mass of locks down to her waist and a face so pretty it hurts, it’s hard to not be drawn to Calma Carmona. I first heard of her at a music conference in NYC and then fell in love after hearing her version of Peggy Lee’s classic song “Fever”. Often compared to singers like Erykah Badu and Sade, Calma Carmona’s flavor of Latin Soul is something she prefers not to assign to one particular genre as she sings between English and Spanish. Her newest song, “Sentir,” mixes a soft reggaeton beat with her signature sensual vocals, and the results are dreamy.

Related Post: How Hurricane Maria Set Up Puerto Rican Chef Wilo Benet for COVID-19

6. Xenia Rubinos – Lonely Lover 

American-born Xenia Rubinos is the daughter of Puerto Rican and Cuban immigrants, professionally trained in jazz composition from the prestigious Berklee School of Music, and a visionary multi-instrumentalist. Incorporating everything from hip hop to jazz and even a splash here and there of punk, her music is constantly evolving. Her newest single, “Diosa,” is a minimalistic electronic self-love anthem, a song meant to inspire self-confidence, almost like a pep talk from your best friend, something we all need every now and then!

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