Singer-songwriter Yolanda Ruiz believes she’s found just the right musical setting for her sensuous, expressive voice. Her newest tracks blend catchy pop melodies with pulsating Latin grooves, hip-hop beats and scorching guitar. “I’ve always loved singing pop music,” she declares. “But I’ve also always wanted my songs to reflect where I come from as a Latina. The music I’m making now brings those elements together. It’s the sound I’ve been hearing in my head for a long time.”
With songs like “Loca,” “Vive Come Quieres,” “What a Woman Wants,” and “Beautiful for You,” the vocalist is at last bringing that sound into the world – an exuberant blend of radio-ready hooks with a Latin vibe.
The path to this point has been a twisty one for the California native. Born to Mexican-American parents in San Jose, Yolanda demonstrated talent as a dancer and singer at an early age. Through relentless instruction in both singing and dancing, she competed in various talent competitions throughout California and received many awards and music scholarships. “That’s really where I spent my youth – competing and performing for my community,” she recalls. At the age of 17, Yolanda was approached by a dance-music producer who expressed an interest in working with her. Their work together led her to another production team, which resulted in her first single, “Together Forever.” Released independently, “Together Forever” earned abundant airplay on KYLD (Wild 94.9) San Francisco and hit the #11 spot on their playlist. With the success of her single she began performing for larger crowds, including an event at the HP Pavilion (San Jose Arena) with an audience of over 20,000 people. With the single demonstrating her potential, Yolanda sought out new producers and began creating fresh material. “We worked hard for a long time, but it didn’t quite click,” she remembers. “The songs just weren’t where I needed them to be at that point in my career. In late 2002 she made a fateful decision – to pack up and leave for Los Angeles. “It was a real wake-up call after San Jose,” she says, “because I was starting all over without the support I had back home.”
Enthralled by the Latin pop explosion, Yolanda sought out new producers to collaborate with and eventually was introduced to producer Ron Cohen, a two-time Emmy Award winner who embraced her vision of Latin-flavored, funky pop with a rock edge. “He introduced me to Ozomatli’s music and I was immediately drawn to their sound. When I heard Jabu, vocalist/rapper of the band, I knew that we needed to have him featured on one of the tracks. As a result, in between their hectic summer tour, Jabu joined Yolanda in the studio and ended up laying down vocals for two tracks, “Vive Como Quieres” and “Don’t Tell Me”. Jabu recently joined Yolanda once again in the studio for her latest release “Loca”, the first single scheduled for release in December 2006. Her album is scheduled to debut sometime this year in ‘07.
Apart from the occasional performance – such as her appearance at 2004’s Latin Pride Los Angeles event, featuring Yuri, Maria Conchita Alonso, Pilar Montenegro, Julieta Venegas and other luminaries – Yolanda’s immersion in her new music has kept her offstage for a while. “Audience members kept asking for a CD when I’d perform,” she says. “I convinced myself that I would finish my album before I did any more gigs...but I can’t wait anymore. I’ll be hitting the road very soon.” As she continues working on completing her EP, Yolanda promises to bring something entirely different to fans old and new. “I’ve put my heart and soul into these songs and I’m ready to take it to the stage.”