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|Born||Zayra Enid Alvarez Dones
Arroyo, Puerto Rico
|Alma mater||University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (B.A.)|
Zayra Enid Alvarez Dones also known as just Zayra, is a Puerto Rican-born singer and musician, currently based in Texas. She was born to Luis Alvarez Cruz and Ana Dones Torres and grew up in the coastal town of Arroyo. From a young age, she took part in talent shows and school plays, and at age 14 she started playing in different bands. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering from University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. Zayra has recorded in the genres of rock en español, Latin pop and EDM.
After graduation, Alvarez visited a friend in Texas, where she discovered the Deep Ellum music scene in Dallas. She became active in the local club scene and signed a record deal with Brando Records. She recorded her debut album Ruleta in Spanish with producer Javier Willis. She wrote and performed all the songs on the album. A few months later, Kevin Lawrie at Sony Norte heard the tracks and signed her to the Miami-based label. Alvarez continued to work in the Latin music scene, getting airplay for her debut single "Hoy" on stations throughout Puerto Rico and the US. Picky Talarico directed the video for "Hoy", which was shot on location in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The program director for Entravision Communications "Super Estrella" network happened upon her while she was performing at the Grove in Los Angeles. The following week "Hoy" was added to the playlist for all of the "Super Estrella" network across the US. This led Sony Norte to release a second single "Cada Momento". The video was directed by Nory Niven.
While touring and performing in Texas, Alvarez became close friends with her Brando Records label mates Blue October, who invited her to sing on two songs: "Come in Closer" off of their album History for Sale and "Into the Ocean" from their platinum-selling album Foiled.
Alvarez landed a spot on the CBS TV show Rockstar: Supernova in 2006. Her outrageous costumes and creative spin on the songs she performed were both praised and derided by the media. Los Angeles Times pop music critic Ann Powers stated that "Rockstar's most intriguing contestant, the Puerto Rican punk chanteuse Zayra Alvarez" while her hometown paper, the Dallas Observer, referred to her as having a "serious, possibly fatal, pitch deficiency". Marc Hirsh declared that "Zayra quickly learned to own her weirdness and start driving it without fear... without changing her style or even necessarily improving, she revealed herself to be what allmusic.com’s postseason roundtable referred to as 'the most exciting, original, and audacious' singer in the entire competition." During her tenure, she covered many well-known songs, including "Call Me", "867-5309/Jenny", and "Everybody Hurts". On week 7, Alvarez took a huge risk by singing her own original song, ""Lluvia de Mar,"" in Spanish on Prime Time TV, and while Supernova (Tommy Lee, Gilby Clarke and Jason Newsted) could not help but like it they still wanted her to sing a more traditional rock song. She was eliminated from the show on August 16. Shortly after her departure from Rockstar:Supernova, the Los Angeles Times ran a feature article on her. In it, the writer Josh Kun stated, "Zayra Alvarez, an aspiring arena goddess born and raised in Puerto Rico, makes it deep into the prime-time CBS-TV competition of "Rock Star: Supernova." She prances around ... in peekaboo cosmic blue cat suits like she's Ziggy Stardust's long lost Caribbean cousin."
After the show Alvarez returned to Texas and moved to Austin. She decided it was time for her to record her songs in English in a style that took her far beyond traditional Latin music. She also dropped her last name and became known simply as Zayra. Her latest album, Baby Likes To Bang, was released on September 14, 2010 by Brando Records. This album represents Zayra's transition into dance music, featuring remixes by top DJs from around the world. Two singles have been released from the album, "V.I.P." and "Baby Likes To Bang."
"V.I.P.", the first single from the album and a Top 5 Billboard Dance Club Hit, was remixed by Dave Audé, Mike Rizzo, DJ Paulo & Alain Jackinsky, Steph Seroussi, and Adrian Benavides. After the release of the single, the blogger Arjan wrote "every summer needs a dance queen and Zayra is turning out to be this season's club royalty."
The second single "Baby Likes To Bang" was released November 8, 2010. It was declared the #1 Dance Breakout by Billboard and was the #3 most added song by DJ's behind Katy Perry and Rihanna. The single features remixes from DJ Escape & Tony Coluccio, Razor N Guido, Mixin Marc & Tony Svejda and Steph Seroussi & Nam. The music videos for "Baby Likes to Bang" and "V.I.P." were composed by Merritt Fields of Rainmaker Artists.
Zayra starred in the independent film "Lycanthrope". The movie features one of her original songs, "This Is Love", which can be found on the re-release of her album "Ruleta".
She has worked as a photographer for Blue October and co-directed a music video for Tori Velasquez with Merrit Fields. In 2014, Zayra started a line of prints she illustrated named The Sleepy Heads Collection by Pepper Love. She has also designed jewelry for the line Z+V for Vinca in addition to working as an interior designer.
Appearances in other albums
- Blue October - History for Sale, guest vocals on "Come in Closer"
- Blue October - Argue With a Tree, guest vocals on "Come in Closer"
- Blue October - Foiled, backing vocals on "Into the Ocean"
- Stormaid: The Concert
- "Rockstar Supernova".
- Zayra IMDb trivia section
- "Le sonríe la suerte a Zayra".
- Ann, Powers (Aug 8, 2006). "He cleans up good". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 28, 2010.
- Martin, Merritt (August 31, 2006). "Person With Disability: Rest in peace—please—Zayra Alvarez". Dallas Observer. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
- She's determined to be heard, man. L.A Times.
- Marc Hirsh. "Sanjaya was an ‘Idol,’ and reality TV, original".
- "La nueva diva del "dance"".
- Press Release on Queeried.com
- Article on Arjan Writes
- Press Release on Queeried.com
- Austin Fashion Week Article
- Pictures From Atlanta Pride 2010
- "Exclusive Premiere: Blue October, ‘Debris’". Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- "Tori Vasquez "Wear You Thin" (Merritt Fields, Zayra Alvarez, dir.)". Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- "Nu Interiors Design".