When Puerto Rican pop artist Ana Isabelle began recording her album, prospects looked good for her to reach the finals of the highly rated Univision singing competition "Viva el Sueño." Then, at the end of November, she won the final audience vote. Like the 13 contestants she defeated, Ana Isabelle already had a label deal, but had yet to break in a big way.
"We made the album in about a month, but I think it'll surpass my first album in many respects," says the singer, who released her debut in 2007. This time, she's a priority artist for Universal Latino, which paired her with an established star, Cristian Castro, on a duet cover of his hit "Por Amarte Así."
"Mi Sueño," scheduled for release Jan. 12 on Universal Music Latino, also features songs Ana Isabelle sang during the competition. Producers include Mauricio Gasca, Yoel Henriquez, prolific pop hitmaker Armando Avila and pop star Luis Fonsi. Among other collaborators on the mostly covers album are Noel Schajris, Son by Four's Angel Lopez, songwriter Claudia Brant and pianist Arthur Hanlon.
Univision is standing behind its audience's pick, booking Ana Isabelle on its TV shows and featuring her on the network's New Year's Eve special from Times Square. Univision Radio has also hosted festivals in Houston and Los Angeles with Ana Isabelle and other "Viva el Sueño" finalists. The singer "occupies a place that was empty in the market, as the young female romantic singer for a new generation," Universal Latino GM Luis Estrada says.
Estrada adds that Coca-Cola will sponsor private events and in-stores with Ana Isabelle and that a "Viva el Sueño" tour is in the works for the second quarter and will hit major Hispanic markets, including Ana Isabelle's home of Puerto Rico.
Universal has "always supported me," but now "they're betting on me harder," Ana Isabelle says. "[I want] to take advantage of this moment."