During a pandemic, when the music world was shaken and live entertainment came to a halt, Chesca shined. In just the past year, the Puerto Rican newcomer collaborated with artists such as Pitbull, Arcangel and De La Ghetto; entered the Billboard charts for the first time; was nominated at Premio Lo Nuestro; and made her late-night television debut.
“It’s been a crazy journey,” she tells Billboard. “Everything that’s happened in the last year, I’ve been optimistic and positive about. I’ve been working my ass off for so long and now I’m going to let things flow and happen. It’s meant to be. It’s what God had planned for me.”
Chesca, who’s signed to Saban Music Group, discovered her passion for music at a very young age thanks to her musically driven family and her admiration for Michael Jackson. “When I was 8 or 9, I began tagging along with my dad and his band in Puerto Rico,” she recalls. “One day the lead singer got sick and I substituted her because I knew the entire repertoire. Here you had 11-year-old Chesca singing live for the first time, and that’s when everything kicked off.”
A young Chesca signed a development deal with Sony Latin at only 11 years old. However, a tragic boat accident shortly after, in celebration of her singing and Cinco de Mayo, put her professional dreams on pause.
“Music was the only place where I could escape reality,” she says. “I had noticeable surgeries and I lost 70 percent of my hair in that accident. I went through 14 reconstructive surgeries on my scalp to get it all back. The only place I didn’t feel judged was onstage, because I would wear wigs and hats.”
When she did pick up the pieces, Chesca says that one of the first people to believe in her was Pitbull, whom she met about four years ago. “I was persistent with his camp and one day, I was brave enough to ask him for a meeting,” she notes. “He was moved by my personal story and that’s when he invited me to be on his song ‘Cinco de Mayo’ with Lil Jon.”
They now have four records together, including “Subelo” with Israeli pop duo Static & Ben and “Te Quiero Baby” with the iconic Frankie Valli, both of which topped the Billboard Latin Airplay chart. “Súbelo (Further Up)” landed at No. 1 on the chart dated March 28, 2020, and “Te Quiero Baby” last December.
“It’s a dream come true, because I always looked up to Billboard and I told myself that one day I’ll be recognized on this platform but to know that Frankie has never been on a Latin chart and this record put him on there is unbelievable,” she says.
Currently, Chesca is making the rounds with her single “Como Tu Me Querias,” which boasts a De La Ghetto-assisted remix, and the Spanglish “Como Tu (Dirty)” with De La and Offset. “I love the record so much because it brought me back to my roots,” she notes. On Mar. 19, Chesca, joined by De La, Offset, and a live band, premiered “Como Tu (Dirty)” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.
Learn more about this week’s Latin Artist on the Rise below:
Name: Franchesca Ramirez Bravo
Recommended Song: Chesca, De La Ghetto, “Como Tu Me Querias (Remix)”
Major Accomplishment: “So far, to have been nominated for new female artist at Premio Lo Nuestro. I feel like people in the industry are acknowledging my work.”
What’s Next: “The music video for ‘Como Tu (Dirty).’ There are so many things lined up. This year there are so many opportunities to perform and release new music. People will get to see more of Chesca and I’m hopeful and positive that this year I’ll have that one record that will really set me apart.”