Tuesday, Aug 16th

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Hotseat - Claudia of Latin Sugar

744_OnA_HSeatAsk any Latin music enthusiast on the island about Latin Sugar and they will tell you they've been playing set days at many places, but you'll have heard them mostly at Ranchos, Calmos and El Toro. The band's lead singer is Claudia. With her striking beauty and fantastic voice, she will captivate you as you watch them perform.

When at Ranchos, the band plays primarily salsa and cumbia. There is a wonderful dance floor; so while dining, you can watch patrons dance or you can dance as you wait for your food to be brought to the table.

Although we know Claudia as a gorgeous Latin singer, she is also a very good Jazz and R&B artist. Latin Sugar recently started playing at El Toro in Simpson Bay – a great place to go to listen to Claudia sing and check out the great salsa dancers on the dance floor.

Where were you born? Tell me a little about where you grew up.

I was born in Medellin, Colombia. I come from a musical family as both my mother and brother were singers. My brother and my sister have big Latin bands with full orchestras. I grew up surrounded by musicians and it was only natural that I would roll into this field as well. As a kid, I loved animals. I was always busy with my pets; I always had dogs which became very dear to me. My hobby was horseback riding, dressage. My family had horses so I would take lessons at a very high level. I rode the race and dress horses.

Where did you live before moving to St. Maarten?

Medellin was where I was born and raised; I came to St. Maarten directly from there. However, as the lead singer from various bands in Colombia, I toured through South America with the bands so I travelled a lot in the last years I lived in Medellin.

Please tell me something about your educational background. Did you study music?

Yes indeed! I've played piano and taken music lessons for over 15 years; however, I studied speech therapy at university for five years. I also had a keen interest in nutrition and I studied this as well. That is definitely why I am so obsessed with keeping a well-balanced diet and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Tell me something about life as a musician.

As my mother was a singer, she always took me with her to her gigs. I started singing in the chorus line with her and my brother's band. After I completed my studies, I took on singing as a profession. Famous singers and bands would use me as backup singer in their bands as well as during recording in the studios. I sang with artists such as Richie Rey, Bobby Cruz, DLG and the famous Argentinean singer Leo Dan. My entire life is about singing. I make sure I rest my vocal cords enough each day, sleep sufficiently, eat properly and drink enough water, which is really important to preserve my voice.

Please tell me a little about how you came to St. Maarten and what you are currently doing.

I met my big love Eddie Mieri Medellin when he came to Colombia from Argentina with a famous singer, Piero, and stayed in Medellin. We fell in love and after living together in Colombia for many years, we decided to go on a scouting vacation to the Caribbean. We enjoyed the island and then decided to stay. Since then, we have been playing at Ranchos and Calmos and have various other long- and short-term gigs which have kept us here. Music has become our primary interest and we have invested fully into this, expanding our musical equipment and various lighting equipment.

Apart from being the lead singer in Latin Sugar, do you have any other hobbies or interests? Give us a description of a regular day in your life.

I am lucky enough to have made my main hobby my profession, Music is truly my life. I love music in general. I spend a lot of my day listening to music. I love swimming and going to the beach. The other love of my life is my dog Canelita – she keeps me fit taking her on walks.

What are your ambitions for the future? Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I hope my music career will have taken off; it would be great to be touring the world. Seriously, I would like to have recorded some CDs and have concerts introducing them to the world. And I would like to have 10 dogs by then.

Do you have any days off from work and what do you do on those days?

On my days off, I like to watch movies, go to the beach, walk my dog and take time for meditation. I search for movies and concerts of my favourite artists and I watch them over and over again; it's my way to totally relax.

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be; what would be the one question you would ask; and what would you serve them to eat?

I would invite Aretha Franklin and would ask her, "Can I sing with you?"; Amy Winehouse and would ask her, "What did you do to your life? You had everything!"; and Alejandro Sanz and Celia Cruz and would ask them both: "Can I sing with you?"

I would serve them Arepas con Ajiaco, which is chicken, corn, provision, cream, capers and cilantro soup. We would toast with tall glasses of fresh juice.