Fans lined up in front of the Canal Room in Tribeca to hear Frankie Negron’s fresh new sound. If you are not familiar with the heartthrob (who was discovered by Paul Simon in the early ‘90s) perhaps it’s because you’re not a fan of salsa-not the dip, but the sultry Latin genre. Whether you dance it or not is irrelevant as Negron, a New Jersey born and bred Puerto Rican, just released his debut English album “Independence Day”. The 32-year-old has gone from salsa to rock and light pop, and I had the privilege of attending his album release party last night.
I spotted some ladies donning bright, skin-tight frocks circa 1997 as if they were going to see the crooner at his first salsa concert. But Frankie looked and sounded nothing like he did at the beginning of his music career. Frankie Negron told me that some of his original fans didn’t know he liked rock, or that he even spoke English! “It’s part of who I am. I grew up listening to Springsteen and Bon Jovi as much as I did listening to the salseros. That’s what is beautiful about being Latino, being bilingual and bicultural. We’re kind of allowed to do both because we are both”.
Producer Jimmy Greco-who has worked with Jennifer Lopez and Celine Dion- was humbled with tears in his eyes as he spoke to the audience about their project finally coming to life.
Frankie hit the stage with his rock band, a mix of Caucasian, fedora wearing guys with unruly hair wearing jeans and converse sneakers. With his voice sounding stronger than ever, his passion and appreciation for performing was evident particularly with the songs “I Won’t Back Down” and “Holding on to Love” which is actually about his love-hate relationship with music and not about a woman.
“It’s been a long time coming, but everything happens when it’s supposed to happen,” said Negron.
A few people were saying, ‘Why now Frank? The Latin crossover happened five or six years ago. That’s when people were waiting for you to do it.” He answered them with, “Why? Because it wasn’t my time. Now I feel like it’s my time. I’m not worried about a trend. I’m worried about what’s right for me and this feels right for me”.
“Independence Day” is in stores now and on iTunes.