Debi Nova
We spoke with Latin Grammy-nominated Debi Nova to talk about the nomination, her career and accomplishments. Getty

The Latin Grammys are tomorrow, and this year, there has been a lot of new talent nominated for the first time. Talent that is not precisely “mainstream,” but has all the qualities to make an award-winning record. One of those talents is Debi Nova. Although her name might not seem too familiar, she has been in the business for a while, writing for other artists and touring with major industry names, until she finally decided to take a huge leap, and take her story and tell it herself, in her own way.

Although she has been involved in six projects nominated for a Grammy award, a dance song which reached number one on the Billboard Dance charts, and has collaborated with artists including Black Eyed Peas, Sean Paul, Sergio Mendes, Ricky Martin and Franco De Vita, this time around, she got a nomination of her own for Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Album for “Soy,” her second album. We spoke to her ahead of the Latin Grammys ceremony and this is what she had to say to us.

Latin Times: Congratulations on your Latin Grammy! How do you feel about that?

Debi Nova: Amazing! It’s such an amazing ride. I got the news that I was nominated and everything has been so enhanced in a way and I feel like the record has taken a new set of wings and I feel so grateful for this opportunity and so excited to be in Vegas for it.

LT: Are you excited? How are you preparing prior to the ceremony? Do you have your dress picked out? Do you know who’s doing your hair and makeup?

DN: I do know who’s doing my hair and makeup. A dear friend of mine who’s been my “glam squad” for eight years, so she’s coming to Vegas and I still don’t know what I’m going to wear, but I’ve sort of looked at different designers.

LT: So do you feel like a celebrity yet?

DN: You know, I’m just so excited and if anything I feel like I get to play like I’m a celebrity. But yes, super, super excited and more than anything I’m excited to hang out with other artists, and meet other artists and friends of mine, colleagues, and I’m preparing for a couple of things we’re going to do around the ceremony, different performances, so I’ve been practicing as well, and it’s going to be super fun!

LT: Debi, when do you begin in the music business? When do you know this is what you wanted to do?

DN: Well, it’s really been something that’s been with me my whole life. I started playing piano at 4 years old and by the time I was a teenager I was already writing songs and singing, and I think at 15 it was when I told my parents “This is what I wanna do for the rest of my life,” and luckily I got their support and left to Los Angeles at 17, right after high school, and I didn’t start working right away. I went to UCLA for a couple of years but it was in my second year of college that I got my first proper job as a singer with Sergio Mendes and that was in 2001, so I would say that ever since then I’ve been working actively in the music industry. I’ve been writing for other artists, and then I got to sing with Ricky Martin as his background singer for a while, but it wasn’t until 2010 that I was able to put out my first record as a solo artist, so even though I’ve been working with music for many years, it still feels like this is the beginning because this is only my second record and it’s my first one in Spanish, so it’s a beginning in a way.

LT: You started out very young by working with some pretty big names, how did you grasp all of that happening to you at the time?

DN: I think what happens is that you don’t really realize the magnitude and the amazingness of what’s happening to you until afterwards. I remember perfectly with Ricky Martin that I went to the studio to record background vocals for “Drop It On Me,” I met Ricky, then they called me for the audition of the tour, then I got the gig and I was just going through it without really stopping and going “Oh my God! This is Ricky Martin!” And it was I think in a show, midway through the tour, that we were performing “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and it kinda dawned on my, “Holy sh*t! I’m on stage singing with Ricky Martin, this is crazy!” So it took some time for me to really realize the magnitude of what that was going to be for me and my career and until this day, until the day I die, it’s something that I will talk about and continue to learn from.

LT: You’re nominated for a Latin Grammy thanks to your album, “Soy,” which is like a whole new beginning since you’re starting fresh in Spanish as a solo artist. What was the hardest thing of going through with that album?

DN: There were a couple of challenges but the big one when I was writing was my own head. Because I kept sabotaging it a little bit and telling myself “Are you sure, is this where you wanna go? Why would you switch from English? How would you explain this?” And that’s partially why the album is called “Soy,” after the song “Soy,” because that song was a breakthrough for me. The song talks about not trying to define yourself or what you’re doing, or who you are, but just doing it and being yourself and loving yourself the way you are; and understanding that you’re going to keep changing with time and that was a challenge, to understand what it was that I wanted to do and commit to it. And then I had another challenge which was when I finished the record, figuring out how to release the album because it’s an independent work and I had to relearn how to put the record out in the world without a record label, which was not the case for the last album.

LT: What inspires you to write your own songs? What do you feel it’s the topic that’s in most of your songs?

DN: I think this record is about love and I think it’s a very positive album, but, to answer your question, everything inspires me. There’s a song in everything in life, and it’s just a matter of having your mind open and letting that song come to you. I think writing songs is difficult because anything can be a song, so the question would be what’s a good song? What makes something better than other topics? I think everything is material for inspiration.

LT: What are your future plans? What comes next after the Latin Grammys?

DN: I still have one more single that I wanna put out from this album, which is going to be “Cupido.” We’re working right now with creating remixes, hopefully shooting the video soon and releasing the single in January or February of next year and mid-year I wanna get back in the studio and record my next album.

LT: What has been your greatest accomplishment so far?

DN: I think there’s a couple of things. Obviously this Latin Grammys nomination is amazing for me and I’m super, super grateful and excited about it. I think at least what’s giving me the most satisfaction and has me thinking that I’m on the right path is all the work I do besides music. The opportunity to work with the campaign against domestic violence with the UN, called UNITE, and then the work with YUNGA (Youth and United Nations Global Alliance), teaching kids about the importance of the environment.

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