People en Español
Isis Sauceda
January 19, 2016 AT 09:54 PM EST

Though she now lives under the warm, sunny skies of South Florida, Leslie Grace can’t forget the changing leaves of fall—her favorite season—in her native Bronx, New York.

The chart- topping, 20-year-old singer of Dominican extraction will see more of the world this spring, when her new CD drops and she takes it all over the U.S., Europe and Latin America with a clear goal in mind: “To communicate with people who listen to my music, inspire them, give them hope.”

What does New York mean to you?

It’s the melting pot of the United States. I call it sancocho [stew], everything is in New York. I’m thankful to have been born and raised there, to have been able to feel [its] culture. For me, New York means flavor, culture, closeness to people. I’m from the Bronx. My mom had her [beauty] salon there when I was a little girl, in the same building where my grandmother lived [since she moved] from the Dominican Republic. My aunt now lives in that building with her daughters and we always visit them.

What would you recommend people see in New York?

Definitely Times Square. You have to go to the city. There is nothing like seeing all those lights, the buildings, being in the middle of Times Square and just looking around. There are so many people; the energy is like something you will never see anywhere else. St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Thalia was married, is something beautiful to see for the architecture.

Since your mom is a beauty expert, is she your advisor in this area?

I’ve been very fortunate to count on my mom who has been in the beauty world for 38, 40 years. She is very involved with my look, especially my hair. I have curly, tight hair; she’s the only one who knows how to deal with it.

How do you feel about becoming a role model for a new generation of Latinas?

I’m honored. My work, what I love to do, music, is a form of communication, a way to connect with people, with my audience. Every time I sing, perform, write a Tweet or post a video or a picture on Instagram, they know me a bit more and the girls look at me like a role model—and I think that’s a responsibility that those of us who are in the media have to keep in mind. Sometimes, we’re not going to be perfect. But with every step that you take— sometimes you’ll trip and fall—you want to show the public that there is a lesson [to be learned]. It kind of motivates me instead of feeling [like] this big burden.

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