Five ‘Women on the Rise’ Reveal Biggest Challenges in Latin Music Industry: Most Motivating Quotes

Mariah Angeliq, Emilia Mernes, Lucia Villa of Las Villa, Laura Villa of Las Villa and Elena Rose
Gus Caballero

Mariah Angeliq, Emilia Mernes, Lucia Villa of Las Villa, Laura Villa of Las Villa and Elena Rose speak onstage at Women On the Rise - The New Generation Presented By Amazon Music Latin panel at Billboard Latin Music Week 2021 on Sept. 22, 2021 in Miami.

During the Women on the Rise - The New Generation panel, moderated by Billboard senior writer, Latin, Griselda Flores five emerging artists discussed biggest inspirations (Rihanna, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez) and revealed the challenges they have and continue to face in the industry.

The panel, held on day three of Billboard’s Latin Music Week (Sept. 20-25), welcomed superstar songwriter and artist Elena Rose, twin sister urban-pop duo Las Villa, reggaetonera and Miami native Mariah Anqelique and Argentine multi-hyphenate Emila Mernes.

And despite the various challenges each artist has faced on their respective journeys so far, one commonality emerged: they were never going to back down on their dreams.

Below are the most motivating quotes from each artist about their come-ups and current status of women in the Latin music industry.

Mariah Anqelique

“I always had it in my heart, the passion for this, [and knew] that I was going to make it big.”

“My challenge [now] is to change music, because sometimes as an artist you have so much around you, you have many people around you, that you forget you have to make music for yourself and do something different that could change your generation and change [the course of] music. I have a lot of music backed up, I got a lot of music that I wrote, and sometimes as women you don’t really get that credit until much later. Karol G has been doing this for a long time -- and now she’s saying ‘I’m it.’”

“We’re in a good position right now. Women have so many opportunities [today]. There’s still a lot to do and achieve, but we’ve worked hard to get the respect that we deserve. F--k misogyny… Where do men come from? Women.”

Las Villa

Lucía Villa: “We were always very supported by our parents. At one point I doubted if I wanted to be in music but our parents said, ‘No no, you were born for this. Keep going.’ We used to do musical theater in Colombia, we used to sing opera, We had castings for Disney… it was a whole different thing. We started to feel that we wanted to do something that was ours, not be in someone else’s play. We were very inspired by Bad Bunny and trap and looking on YouTube and that’s when we first reached [connected with] urban music. It wasn’t until we did our first song that people noticed us. In 2018, we said we’ll give it one more shot.”

“The women who came before us -- Natti Natasha, Karol G, J. Lo -- continue to open the path for others, but now that we’re here, what are we doing to do with this path?”

Laura Villa: “To be able to revolutionize music somehow [is our biggest challenge]. The big artists in history are the ones who changed music. How did an artist become a turning point? How the f--k are we going to do that? I feel that the creative process takes you there, because your music is the muse -- and she guides you like a guardian angel. Music is the sound, but sometimes you have to learn to listen to it better. Music is a woman, you have to treat her well.”

Emila Mernes

“I was in a group until about three years ago when I started as a solo artist. When I started on my own, there was a lot of uncertainty… In 2018, there were not many women and now there are a lot of us in this genre, and based on what I had grown up listening to it was really hard for me to be able to figure out what I’d be able to sing. I started looking to pop and urban -- and of course urban has many sub-categories. My biggest challenge is to feel happy with the music that I’m doing, and not just doing [a certain kind of] music to feel like I belong to a genre.”

“With Elena, she was the first woman I did a song with and here we are now. We’re away from our families, so it’s important to surround yourself with [people] who share the same vision as you so you can move forward together. Everyone wants something from you, so it’s important to surround yourself with the right people. In this industry, machismo exists, but that’s why in this session I think it’s great for us all to be here on stage and be able to support each other.”

“We still need more positions for women in the industry, more producers, more writers… We need to keep fighting for equality, it’s fundamental. But as I said, we’re in transition -- and strength comes with unity.”

Elena Rose

“One day I was singing at a bar [in Miami] and a producer came in and said I have a nice voice and I was like ‘Thank you, but do you have any money? I’ve got to pay rent.’ [Then I said instead], ‘Or don’t pay me, let me be in the studio.’ I learned in a space where I was the only woman among men… I walk in a room not thinking that I’m a woman, but a writer.”

“Talking about our generation for both women and men, we have to develop patience. We want to see something happen now. We need not only patience with the world but with ourselves… I love my team because we’re very conscious of ‘how is your mind, your heart, what are you feeling?’ [We don't’ lose sight] of why we’re doing this.”

“I remember listening to ‘Jenny From the Block’ and I never wanted to be her, she made me feel that I can be myself, and as an artist I always wanted to transmit that.”

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