India

La India (born Linda Viera Caballero on March 9, 1970 in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico) is a noted singer of salsa also known as the “Princess of Salsa”.

Linda’s parents decided to move to New York soon after her birth. Upon their arrival, they settled down in the South Bronx and lived with her grandmother. Linda’s grandmother had an important influence on her life because she was a very strong willed lady and Linda looked up to her. Linda went to school and received her elementary education in the Bronx. During her grade school she met and became friends with Louie Vega. Vega introduced her to the urban street music scene where she learned to appreciate the hip hop style of the day.

Linda’s fine dark features and long straight black hair earned her the nickname “India”. In 1985, when Linda was 14 years old, she signed as back-up singer for the Latin Hip Hop group “TKA”, who scored a number one “hit” with “I Can’t Get No Sleep”. She was under the tutelage of John “Jellybean” Benitez, a Puerto Rican DJ who was once involved with Madonna. She also contributed backing vocals on Jellybean’s Club Hit “Mirage”. She later had her own Freestyle classic single “Dancing on the fire”. Linda was also a part time model.

In 1990, when she was 19 years old, Linda married her friend from grade school, Louie Vega who then went by the name of “Little” Louie Vega. “Little” Louie was then a DJ and record producer. Before marrying “Little” Louie, Linda had a record contract with Warner Bros., who planned on making her the “Latin” Madonna. After recording “Breaking Night”, Linda decided that she didn’t want to take that route in her career.

Things changed one day for Linda while she was at her husbands studio singing. Salsa band leader Eddie Palmieri happened to visit the studio and was impressed with what he heard. In 1992, Palmieri produced Linda’s first Spanish salsa album “Llego La India via Eddie Palmieri” (The India has Arrived via Eddie Palmieri) which was acclaimed as one of the “best” salsa albums of the year.

Linda was now known to all as “La India”. In 1994, La India together with Vega recorded an album of salsa dance tunes which paid tribute to “Santeria” titled “Yemaya y Ochun”. La India’s involvement with Santeria, a syncretic religion based in the Caribbean, bothered many people and therefore she was criticized by many. She later recorded “Dicen Que Soy” (They Say that I Am) which was a top Billboard Hit and where La India states that she doesn’t care what others think of her.

In 1996, La India worked with Tito Puente in the production of “Jazzin” the English version of some swing classics with a Latin twist for “RMM Records”. She sang “Voces Unidas” (United Voices) in a duet with Marc Anthony. She also released “India:Mega Mix” that same year before divorcing Vega. La India also sang a duet, “La Voz de la Experiencia” (The Voice of Experience), with Celia Cruz, “The Queen of Salsa”. It was then that Celia named La India “The Princess of Salsa”.

In 1997, La India recorded “Sobre el Fuego” (Over the Fire) with Puerto Rican salsa singer Kevin Ceballo as back-up, and was nominated for the “Best Latin Tropical Performance” Grammy Award and in 1998 she won an ACE Award.

On May 31, 1998 La India had two sold out concerts at the Luis A. Ferre Center of Beautiful Arts in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She returned to the United States where Cable Channel UPN aired one of her shows. La India also held concerts in New York’s Madison Square Garden and in El Festival de la Calle Ocho in Miami, Florida.

On February 5, 2000, a full page ad was placed in Billboard Magazine congratulating her on her second Grammy Award nomination. On March 2000, she was featured on Vibe Magazine.

In 2005, La India participated in the musical presentation Selena Vive, a tribute to the late Tejano sensation Selena Quintanilla-Perez. In 2006, La India released the album Soy Diferente, which contained two songs that became award-winning hits. The 2007 Annual Latin Billboard Awards honored India with Best Tropical Album of the Year Female for “Soy Diferente” (I Am Different), and Latin Dance Club Play Track of the Year for “Solamente Una Noche” (Just For One Night). In 2007, India collaborated with Latin sensation Gloria Estefan in a duet titled “90 Millas.” [5]

India is set to release her ninth studio album in 2010, which will propel her music to various European and Asian countries. India mentioned to the Associated Press, “I am reinventing myself…changing my physical image. India will return to become a Barbie. But more than that, I feel like a new woman because I have been blessed with many beautiful things. After many years, I have my family with me and I am not separated from my mother, in which I suffered greatly. I have her in my life and that brings inner peace that I haven’t had in a long time.”

On February 23, 2010 India’s newest single “Estupida” was released on Itunes. The single has been recorded in two versions a salsa version and also a ballad version.India has filmed a video for both versions, that has been released. ‘Estupida’ peaked on the tropical billboard charts at #10 and made it to #1 in just a couple weeks. India’s ninth studio album Unica was released June 1, 2010

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