India is a country with diverse culture and people. The Indian music industry has seen tremendous growth in the last few decades, but there are still many gaps that need to be filled.
Indian music is unique because it has a wide variety of sounds and instruments. The songs are typically sung in Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Punjabi, Malayalam or Kannada.
India has demonstrated a wide range of musical abilities throughout her career, from freestyle and house to Latin pop and reggaeton, but her run of chart-topping New York salsa hits for the RMM label in the mid-to-late 1990s, when she was dubbed the Princess of Salsa by none other than Celia Cruz, will forever define her. India started her music career in the late 1980s, just as freestyle was reaching the end of its peak. During this time, she was inseparable with producer “Little” Louie Vega, and the two collaborated on some important songs, particularly in the house music genre. Her collaborations with Vega’s Masters at Work project, in particular (“I Can’t Get No Sleep,” “When You Touch Me,” and “To Be in Love”), are timeless. India’s solo career, on the other hand, took off in 1994 with the release of Dicen Que Soy, her debut for RMM, the leading New York salsa label at the time. This album, as well as its follow-up, Sobre el Fuego (1997), were huge hits, ensuring the salsera’s presence on tropical radio for years. India faded from the spotlight towards the conclusion of the decade, recording much less often than she had in the 1990s. Without a doubt, she continued to rack up hits and maintain a fervent fan base, but not on the same scale or at the same rate. She has expanded her approach to include other types of tropical music than salsa.
India was born Linda Viera Caballero on March 9, 1970, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, and grew up in the La Candela neighborhood of the South Bronx. Her parents moved live with her grandmother, a worldly, cigar-smoking lady who had a major influence on India’s life, shortly after her birth. India, so called because of her beautiful looks, started singing as a young child and even attended opera lessons for a short time. She went to elementary school in the Bronx, where she met Louie Vega, who would go on to become a significant role in her life as both a producer and a spouse. Vega, the nephew of salsa legend Héctor Lavoe, introduced her to the city’s growing hip-hop and freestyle scenes, and she ended up joining the freestyle group TKA despite being just a teenager. TKA, who were produced by the Latin Rascals, wound up recording several key freestyles for Tommy Boy, and are probably most known for Louis “Kayel” Sharpe’s membership (aka K7 of “Come Baby Come” fame). India’s ties to TKA are hazy, but the following is known: she performed live with the band in New York and Miami; she is pictured front and center with the group on the cover of the Come Get My Love 12″ EP (1986); and her debut single, “Dancing on the Fire,” was planned to be included on Scars of Love (1987), the group’s debut album, on which she allegedly sang some uncredited background vocals.
In any case, India decided to pursue a solo career. She immediately teamed up with producer John “Jellybean” Benitez, who was already well-known at the time for his work with Madonna and others. India launched with a maxi-single, Dancing on the Fire, under Benitez’s Warner Bros. vanity label, Jellybean (1988). The title tune, produced by Benitez, is included in five distinct mixes by Vega, who was now billed as “Little” Louie Vega. Right from the Start (1989), a second maxi-single created by Mantronik, remixed by David Morales, and published by Warner’s Reprise Records subsidiary, was the next release. India’s first full-length, Breaking Night (1990), was released a few months later, and it included two more singles, “The Lover Who Rocks You (All Night)” and “You Should Be Loving Me.” Breaking Night has been out of print for years, but it’s a fascinating record that captures a period in time when freestyle was dying off and giving way to the house music sound that would become associated with Masters at Work. The majority of the production was divided between Benitez and Vega, with Jocelyn Brown providing backing vocals. Breaking Night didn’t sell well, curious or not; a couple of the maxi-singles hit, but the album didn’t. As a result, India’s tenure with Warner Bros. ended just as it was beginning.
Now it was Vega’s time to shine, so India lent a hand on his solo first full-length, When the Night Is Over (1991), co-writing half of the tracks. When the Night Is Over, released by Atlantic and out of print for years, is another oddity, since it not only showcases Vega’s developing skill as a house producer, but it also includes future salsa superstar (and J-Lo husband) Marc Anthony as lead singer. This collaboration between India, Vega, and Anthony produced one true classic, “Ride on the Rhythm,” but, like with Breaking Night, When the Night Is Over lacked mass-market appeal, and the Atlantic contract fell through shortly after its debut. India and Vega, who had been married since 1989, remained together, and another chance arose shortly after, this time with Latin jazz musician Eddie Palmieri. India recorded a simple salsa album, Llegó la India, under his guidance. Vega co-produced and mixed the album with Latin jazz great Eddie Palmieri in 1992. Llegó la India Via Eddie Palmieri was released by a tiny indie label, Soho Sounds, in collaboration with Sony Discos, who handled the manufacture, and generated quite a stir within the New York salsa community, eventually reaching the Top Five of the Tropical/Salsa album list.
India became a hot item overnight, and she secured a recording deal with Ralph Mercado’s RMM Records, the era’s top New York salsa label. Her first task with the label was to perform at the RMM all-star event in June 1993, which was subsequently released as Combinacion Perfecta (1996). The performance included several of New York’s live salsa luminaries, including Celia Cruz and Oscar d’León, as well as RMM’s two emerging talents, Marc Anthony and India, who sang a duet, “Vivir Lo Nuestro.” The song was released as a single in 1994 and became a Top Ten success before being featured as a bonus track on India’s RMM debut album. Meanwhile, she helped Vega with one of his projects, Masters at Work, a house combo that also includes Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez. Vega and Gonzalez were just getting started as Masters at Work, mainly on the back of the aforementioned “Ride on the Rhythm.” Vega and Gonzalez created a few hits with India as their main singer, including “I Can’t Get No Sleep” and “When You Touch Me.” These tracks, as well as a few more Vega creations that followed, “Love & Happiness (Yemaya y Ochn)” and “Beautiful People,” were released as singles by Cutting Records and included on The Album, Masters at Work’s full-length debut. The former was included in different mixes on Strictly Rhythm Records’ The Tribal EP, billed under the name River Ocean, while the latter was a Barbara Tucker lead vocal performance orchestrated, co-written, and partially performed by India.
Following these legendary house recordings, India made her RMM debut with Sergio George’s salsa maestro Dicen Que Soy (1994). It was, in a nutshell, her mainstream breakthrough. Dicen Que Soy not only spawned five charting hit singles (“Nunca Voy a Olvidarte,” “Que Ganas de No Verte Mas,” “Ese Hombre,” “Dicen Que Soy,” and “O Ella o Yo” — two of which topped the Latin Tropical/Salsa Airplay chart, and all of which were Top Tens), but it also topped the Top Latin Albums chart and topped the Tropical/Sals Dicen Que Soy was a sensation, not just a hit song. India was to salsa what Olga Taón was to merengue in 1994-1995: her music was everywhere on tropical radio. Needless to say, RMM was delighted with Dicen Que Soy’s response, and Mercado took advantage of his label’s new star by pairing her with another Latin jazz great, this time Tito Puente, and raising the ante even further by including the Count Basie Orchestra on a couple tracks. Jazzin’ (1996), produced, directed, and mostly composed by Puente, including many jazz classics such as “Fever,” “Love for Sale,” and “Wave.” These songs have been performed to death over the years; nevertheless, the performances are given a heavy splash of salsa seasoning, which adds some excitement, especially because India is prominently featured throughout. RMM also licensed Llegó la India Via Eddie Palmieri for reissue in 1996, and then produced Mega Mix, which spliced together previously available highlights in an effort to create something fresh for ravenous fans. This was also the year when India and Vega divorced, since their musical careers were diverging and advancing at a faster pace.
The next year was another significant one for India, with the publication of RMM’s Sobre el Fuego (1997). Sobre el Fuego, produced by Isidro Infante and featuring collaborations with labelmates Celia Cruz and Johnny Rivera, followed in the footsteps of Dicen Que Soy’s huge success, entering the Top Five on the Top Latin Albums list and topping the Tropical/Salsa one. It spawned a slew of hit songs, the most successful of which were “Me Canse de Ser la Otra,” “Mi Mayor Venganza,” and “Costumbres,” which all charted in the Top Ten of Hot Latin Tracks. India loomed large over the house scene in 1997, with a few immediate classics created by Masters at Work. Her outstanding performance on the duo’s eponymous Nuyorican Soul album for Giant Step Records, “Runaway,” was the first. On MAW Records, the disco-house tune was released as a single, alongside “To Be in Love,” a greater success, and “India with Lavoe.” These many successes continued into 1998, with one song from Sobre el Fuego after another charting. And then there came another Nuyorican Soul song, “I Love the Nightlife (Disco ‘Round),” off the Last Days of Disco album, just as the Masters at Work singles appeared to have run their course.
India’s career thereafter slowed as she gradually faded from the spotlight and released albums seldom. The follow-up to Sobre el Fuego, Sola (1999), was a low-key album inspired by La Lupe. It had just two singles, “Hielo” and “Sola,” and didn’t sell as well as Dicen Que Soy or Sobre el Fuego, despite being produced by Infante in a less showy way. Nonetheless, it was far from a dud, and some believe it to be among her finest. It was also India’s last album for RMM, which went bankrupt in 2001; towards the end of the year, RMM issued a greatest-hits collection, The Best…, in collaboration with Universal Music Latino, putting the most successful period of India’s career to a conclusion. Universal repackaged India’s RMM recordings repeatedly in the years that followed, releasing budget-line collections in various forms, hues, and sizes.
Despite this, India continued her music career, starting with Sony Discos. Latin Songbird: Mi Alma y Corazón (2002) was her lone album for the label, but it was a good, though inconsistent, effort that included a broader range of Latin genres, including bolero, bachata, merengue, pop, and ballad workouts, in addition to salsa. Latin Songbird, as well as the songs “Sedceme” and “Traición,” fared well on the tropical charts, reaching number one. Three years later, she released Soy Diferente (2006) on Univision, a similarly diverse album that recognized the growth of reggaeton at the time. Some fans, particularly longstanding admirers, objected to the “salsatón” inflections, yet Soy Diferente topped the Top Tropical Albums chart and spawned three Top Five Latin Tropical Airplay singles (“Soy Diferente,” “Solamente una Noche,” and “Lágrimas”). nica had many sad moments, including a rendition of Roy Orbison’s “Crying,” which was published in 2010. On the Latin Tropical Airplay chart, the song “Estupida” reached number one. Intensamente con Canciones de Juan Gabriel, a 2015 tribute album to one of the great Mexican ranchera singers, was her next full-length release.
India is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area and has the third-largest population. The world’s most populous democracy, it is also home to a wide variety of ethnicities, languages, and religions. Reference: india singer female.
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