|When you think of how Freestyle music charted on Billboards Hot 100 chart, there isnt much to ponder. Very few true Freestyle songs cracked the Hot 100, let alone the top 50. Sure, the ballads of girl-groups Sweet Sensation and the Cover Girls placed high on the charts, but it was one Freestyle song that made a real impact on mainstream America. The year was 1991, and it was Corinas "Temptation" that landed itself in the Top Ten. Already considered a Freestyle diva with three prior singles under her belt, it was "Temptation" that catapulted the young singer to greater heights.|
While studying criminal law in college, Corina was still pounding the pavement trying to get a break. "I was having a really tough time breaking into the business as a Latina who basically sounded white," Corina remembers. In 1987 her luck started to change. Through mutual friends, Corina met Pepper Negron who became her manager. It was an introduction by Pepper to Carlos Berrios that really got the ball rolling. "Carlos played a song for me that I didnt particularly care for at the time," explains Corina. "I said to him, If I can write on it and fix it so that it fits me, then Ill do it, and it turned into Out of Control." Signed to Cutting Records, "Out of Control" became Corinas first Freestyle hit. The song can still be found today on any number of Freestyle compilations, as it is considered an old school classic.
In 1988, Corina recorded and released "Give Me Back My Heart," offering many listeners a first look at the singer. "Out of Control" was released as a picture-less 12"-single, while "Give Me Back My Heart" offered a glam photo of the singer, donned in a black wig and thigh-high boots, standing in an abandoned church. Produced by T.K. Rodriguez, "Give Me Back My Heart," coincidentally, could be the sequel to "Out of Control." If "Out of Control" is about the desperation of a woman whose relationship has ended, then "Give Me Back My Heart" is the response, with Corina as the heroine demanding to be set free from an abusive situation. Equally, if not more successful as her debut single, "Give Me Back My Heart" offered Corina an appearance on the long-lost freestyle television show "Latin Connection," and a starring role in the never-released film Street Dreams, alongside Marc Anthony and the legendary Iris Chacon.
After the success of "Give Me Back My Heart," Freestylers were clamoring for Corinas next release. Unfortunately, it was a long wait before Cutting Records released another Corina song. In 1990 the wait was over as "Loving You Like Crazy" was released. Produced by Aldo Marin, "Loving You Like Crazy" became Corinas third consecutive hit, and like "Give Me Back My Heart," spawned its own separate 12-inch house remix.
While her first three singles were hugely successful in markets such as New York and Miami, it wasnt until Corina re-teamed with Carlos Berrios that she achieved her greatest commercial success. "Carlos and I fought after Out of Control," Corina recalls with a smile, "and then four years later, he called and said, Lets do a song together." Continuing, she says, "Temptation was a song I played for him before "Out of Control" and he liked it but didnt know what to do with it. We put it away and he still had it four years later." Still unsure about pulling the song from her archives, Corina needed some prodding before she agreed. "Carlos said to me, If you dont do it, can I have it for Lisette [Melendez]," Corina offers. "I said, well let me see what youre doing with it first, and I went in and he was coming up with this sound called "new school." He played Lisettes "Together Forever" for me, which hadnt been released yet, and said "Temptation" was going to be in that vein."
Corina agreed to record "Temptation," but soon after, she and Berrios were, once again, at odds. "The best stuff Ive ever done was with Carlos," she explains. "Its material that no one has ever heard because either he has it, or I have it, and weve never released it because we cant seem to get along outside of working. Its funny because its from the deep anger that the wonderful work comes out, but outside of that the records are never released because we want to kill each other, yet we have this intense love for each other," Corina muses about their tempestuous relationship.
Immediately after "Temptations" release, which was five months later than "Together Forever" due to delays in paperwork by Cutting, Corina took a lot of heat about the similarities between the two songs. "Beside the fact that we dont sound at all the same, and were completely different, there were all the comparisons," Corina notes of that period. "What people dont understand is that it was Carloss sound, not mine, nor Lisettes." Still, with 285 radio stations across the country adding the song, "Temptation" peaked at number six on the Hot 100 in the summer of 1991. Even with all the negative comparisons, Corina notes, "I wound up with what I thought was a great song. It was the highest-charting song I ever had, and it supposedly was one of the dance records that went the furthest from that genre of music."
With an album in the can for Cutting Records, the major labels came knocking to sign the "unknown" with the Top Ten hit. Corinas self-titled debut album was released by Cutting and Atco Records in 1991. A video for "Temptation" was produced that remains one of Corinas proudest achievements. "Whispers" and "Now That Youre Gone" were, respectively, the second and third singles released from Corina, and although they didnt chart as high as "Temptation" were still widely successful. Success wasnt all that it was cracked up to be for the young and somewhat naive Corina. "Ive suffered immensely over the years, even while I had success," she proclaims. "During the most success Ive had, I cried all the time because I was really unhappy. To everyone else I was having all this success, but it wasnt in the direction I wanted to be in." Continuing, Corina admits, "Atco didnt have a clue who I was. To them I was just another Latin girl from the South Bronx who got lucky. They were used to dealing with "artists" who didnt know anything about business, and refused to accept that I wasnt one of them."
The video for "Whispers" was considered "big-budget" at the time, being filmed in a castle with elaborate sets and costumes. A video wasnt produced for "Now That Youre Gone" as that single was released just as Atco Records was undergoing major management changes. The redirection of the label to R&B and changing its name to East/West Records forced Corina to reevaluate whether she wanted to stay on and possibly be made to record music she didnt feel comfortable singing. Opting not to do that, Corina asked to be released from her contract.
As radio stations began dropping freestyle music from their playlists, Corina and many other freestyle artists found themselves label-less, and without an outlet for their music to be heard. Fortunately, though, for fans, a call from former Latin Rascal Albert Cabrera led to Corina recording "Constant Craving (I Need You)" for his compilation album entitled Trip Hop Dance 2000.
Soon after, Corina was offered the opportunity to remake Noceras popular classic, "Summertime Summertime" to appear on Def Jams So So Def Bass AllStars Volume II, an offer she accepted, but not without hesitation. "At first I didnt want to do it," says Corina, "because all these years Ive been trying to make my music grow with me." Agreeing only on the condition that shed be able to record a Spanish version, Corina grew disappointed with how the song was going to be marketed. Adamant that she didnt want to do a "booty" video, Corina insisted on including all races in the video as to not alienate any of her fans. Unhappy with the way it was shot, Corina asked Columbia Records not to release the video for which they replied, "Honey, we spent a lot of money on this, its coming out." Clips from the Corina shoot were mixed in with leftover clips from the "My Boo" video to create the video for "Summertime Summertime." Laughs Corina, "The video came out, a huge old pool party going on, and none of my Latin and white friends are at the party. And I love all people, but it couldnt be a one-sided party." Continuing, Corina notes, "A lot of the dance sequences we did on the beach were cut out because I had gay dancers. I fought fiercely with So So Def about it. I was honest and told them that I am a proud Latin female with a large Latino and Caucasian following. I reminded them that I did the single because they wanted to expose themselves to that."
Not a total fiasco, "Summertime Summertime" allowed longtime fans to see and hear the singer again after a break that lasted a couple of years. And for Corina, singing the song in Spanish was a tribute to her roots, but she wont be following in the footsteps of many former freestyle artists by recording a Latin album. "I had the opportunity to do a Salsa album in 1989," she recalls fondly, "but I said no because at the time I held onto memories of my mother playing it really loud on Saturday mornings, waking me up and annoying me as I tried to sleep." All kidding aside, she adds, "The truth is, I wasnt going to do it just because I needed the money, and at the time, it wouldve been the only reason I wouldve done it."
In 1999, Corina, under the moniker Corina Katt, will be featured in the Tim Robbins film Cradle Will Rock, where she portrays artist Frida Kahlo in an all-star cast that includes Ruben Blades, Susan Sarandon, Vanessa Redgrave, Bill Murray and sibling actors John and Joan Cusack.
|Being the hard-working entertainer she is, Corina has also been busy laying down tracks for an upcoming top-secret recording project that she refuses to divulge any information about. No longer the young, starry-eyed girl from the inner city, Corina has grown into a powerful woman, with strong beliefs in Karma. "When you get older, things change," Corina says. "Ive learned some hard lessons, but I wouldnt have it any other way."||
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