SPOTLIGHT ON MAYRA VERONICA

IMAGE OF MAYRA VERONICA

Unlike many female pop figures who become icons after landing a hit, Mayra Veronica was a sex symbol long before she recorded her current single, "Freak Like Me."

ORDER "FREAK LIKE ME": Video Bundle on iTunes | Remixes on iTunes| Dave Aude Remixes on iTunes

As a model and co-host of a popular Univision program, Veronica had been catching attention for years prior to "Freak Like Me," which is climbing with a bullet up Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs chart. The single is released on the MVA label through Universal.

MAYRA VERONICA PHOTO GALLERY

The Cuba native says her modeling past may have launched her into the spotlight, but music has always been her passion. "I grew up with musicians," says Veronica, who's managed by Parallel Entertainment. "My father acquired much fame in Cuba as the singer of a rock band [Los Dada], and we had rehearsals every day at my house. Music's been in my blood since I was a child. That my career happened to have started as a model or sex symbol has nothing to do with the fact that I'm also able to express myself as an artist."

With its seductive lyrics and vibrant, synth-led sound, "Freak Like Me" precedes Veronica's forthcoming album, Saint Nor Sinner, which will be released by MVA through Universal next year. Various remixes of the track were rolled out to U.S. clubs in early July, and the original version will soon be promoted to rhythmic and top 40 radio.

"The original track is completely a pop sound," Veronica says. "The remixes incorporate a lot more of a club feel that you [also] hear at dance radio." "Freak Like Me" is hardly Veronica's first foray into recorded music. After launching her career as a correspondent for a Miami news show while still in college, Veronica made her first modeling appearance in 2004 and appeared in ads for Nike, Ford and Coca-Cola. She later became a star on Univision's "Don Francisco Presenta" and has appeared on many magazine covers worldwide. But music soon became her focus and she released the album Vengo Con To in 2008.

Veronica created Vengo with such Grammy Award-winning producers as Kike Santander and Roy Tavare. But after leaving Cuba at age 4 and growing up in the United States, she became a fervent pop music fan, and decided now to venture into English-language pop.

"She had a very successful career in Latin music," MVA Productions publicity director Joseph Fisher says, "but she wanted to turn her attention to the U.S. charts."

After approaching a number of producers, Veronica started working with Eddie Galan of Mach 1 Music, with whom she says she "has a very good connection."

Veronica's 2010 single "If You Wanna Fly" cracked five Billboard charts but was pushed to clubs, not to top 40. "Freak Like Me," however, will be offered to both pop and dance crowds. Saint Nor Sinner will be equally balanced, with remixes by Dave Audé, Eddie Amador, Manuel de la Mare, Razor & Guido and WAWA sitting side by side with tracks that draw upon American pop touchstones. "I did grow up listening to Madonna," she says with a laugh, "so I decided to tap into that side of myself as well."

Veronica's uninhibited spirit is evident from the music video for "Freak Like Me," filmed at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. It features the singer and model Antonio Sabato Jr., with a steamy scene in an elevator.

Veronica has done six high-profile USO tours and will stage her own domestic tour this summer, with international dates later this year. The Saint Nor Sinner tour will preview the album, which Veronica says is in its final stages of completion.

"As it is right now, we're going one single at a time. But we have a ton of songs done-we just haven't completely decided on the order or the selection of what it's going to include," she says. No matter how the final track list of Saint Nor Sinner turns out, Veronica has made one thing clear with "Freak Like Me": She's a sex symbol with a musical message.

"I'm bringing stories you can question or relate to," Veronica says. "I plan on inspiring you to free yourself from inhibitions-that's my goal as an artist, and that's what I'm bringing with my music. I'm bringing my soul, and not just my voice."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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