When Ivy Queen’s album Sentimiento was named Best Urban Album of the Year at Premios Lo Nuestro last February, it was perhaps one of the most important moments of the reggaeton artist’s career. With tears in her eyes, the Puerto Rican singer accepted the award, admitting that her legs were shaking from nerves and emotion. And what’s more, this was the first award she’d won during her more than 15-year career, a fact that prompted Ivy Queen to say before the audience, “It was time that you recognized me.”
Known as La Caballota, the 36-year-old musician enjoys an unprecedented popularity in a male-dominated genre. So just how did Martha Ivelisse Pesante become reggaeton diva Ivy Queen? That’s precisely what she will attempt to answer in her upcoming autobiography Detrás del glamour (Behind the Glamour), which she’s still in the process of writing. In addition to working on the book, Ivy Queen is currently promoting Sentimiento (Platinum Edition), a special edition of her previous album, which includes a CD and DVD.
In an exclusive interview with Peopleenespanol.com, Ivy Queen opens up her heart to us by sharing stories of lost love, revealing what she looks for in a significant other and telling us if it hurts her when people criticize her look.
Tell us about your upcoming autobiography…
The book is about my life. It all revolves around [the theme of] self-esteem. It will touch on everything from the beginning of my career when people would tell me I acted like a man because of my tone of voice and style of dress, to the time when I was considered one of the best-dressed at Premio Lo Nuestro by fashion critics. It will go on sale when I find someone I’m on close terms with and have time to sit down with them and dictate my life.
Tell us about your new song “Menor que yo”…
I was talking about reality when I wrote it. About what happens to a lot of women. I think that there’s no age requirement for two people who love each other. It’s mostly about how people react when they see a mature woman who’s with a younger man…They think it’s for money. They never think that there might be a connection, chemistry.
Listen to “Menor que yo” here!
Do you identify with that song?
Of course. It’s happened to me in my personal life. I can tell you that I’ve dated menmuch younger than me. I’m 36, and I’ve had [boyfriends] who are 23, sometimes 22 years old.
Are you in love with anyone right now?
Look, I have a problem and it’s that I’m always in love with Ivy Queen. I’ve my heart [to men] many, many times, and they’ve broken it. Maybe it’s a flaw that I judge people because of other people’s flaws, but I have to take care of my heart. Some people have trouble getting close to me, because they say, ‘with you, everything is Ivy, Ivy, Ivy,” and I say of course, because Ivy Queen is the person who brings home the cash, I’m the one who pays my bills, I’m an independent woman. So, it makes it really hard for me to establish a lasting relationship with someone.
Your song lyrics reflect a certain apathy towards men, especially after your marriage ended. Do you still have faith in love? Is there a ‘Mr. Right’ out there for you?
I’ve never shut out the chance to fall in love. All women want to feel beautiful, loved and protected. But unfortunately whoever comes into my life has to mold himself to me, to Ivy Queen, in order to understand that he’s with a person who is a public figure, that he’s not with a normal woman that can always be there. And believe me, it makes it difficult for me, but I’ve never closed the door on love.
What qualities does a man have to have in order to love you?
He has to understand Ivy Queen and Ivelisse. Ivelisse is the woman at home, the one who likes to read, cook, lock herself in her room to listen to music. And Ivy Queen in the boss who travels a lot, works here and there. He would have to understand that I’m two women in one. He would have to understand and respect my surroundings and who I am. He has to be someone who knows how to take me by the hand.
Of all your songs, which one do you identify with the most?
“Sentimiento” from the album Sentimiento, which is a reggaeton song with bachata. It talks about how if you think you can only conquer me if you’re famous, rich and have an expensive car, you’re wrong, because I’m a woman who needs affection, someone to open the door for me, to bring me flowers and sing to me. That’s the song that best exemplifies where am I right now.
How does it make you feel knowing that you made it a male-dominated genre?
I’m proud of the role that I play in my genre because it’s something I’ve worked hard for. You win respect with sweat and tears. You feel very proud to get to where you’re at and have everyone respect you and put you in that place of honor that you deserve.
Lately you’ve looked very refined and elegant. Is that change a result of all the criticism you got because of your old look?
Look, I don’t care if people like or don’t like my look. But I always like to mix it up. One day I like to look hip-hop, because I’m a reggaeton singer. One of the dumbest criticisms I’ve heard about me is that I should cut my nails. I’m not Miss Universe. I’m the queen of an urban movement, and my nails represent what I like about myself. I can’t please everyone. I have to be content with what I am.
So, we shouldn’t expect you to trim your nails in 2008?
I can’t cut them to make the people happy. The people who love me have tol ove me as I am, and my nails don’t demonstrate my talent. My nails are an art form that I like. Those who are comfortable with short nails can cut theirs, but I’m comfortable with my long nails.