HW Interview: Harlem’s Carmelina Vargas

June 29, 2010

Carmelina_Vargas_ShadesCarmelia Vargas

The Harlemite and breast Cancer survivor talks to Harlem World Magazine about her new video “Alegria,” her new book, a flick at the Magic Johnson Theater and dinner at Melba’s in Harlem.

Harlem World Magazine: Who is Carmelina Vargas, how do you describe yourself?

Carmelina Vargas: I am a passionate singer/songwriter and aspiring author. You can also say that I am quite dedicated and love what I do.

HW: You grew up in Harlem, how has that influenced your music in any way?

CV: Being a Harlemite has influenced my music a great deal. My music is a blend of my upbringing. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Harlem, I incorporate baselines in my music because that’s all I hear outside my window. I fuze it with some pop vocals and I create my own blend. My music is everything that I am.

HW: When did you realize music was going to be your career?

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CV: Since I was little. I’ve always had a fondness for rhythm and the joy of creative expression.

HW: You have been diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, how has it changed your life?

CV: I went through a metamorphosis. Like a new birth. I am more compassionate with myself and almost fearless. When you are a Breast Cancer survivor, you don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. I am also into wellness and taking good care of myself is a priority in my life. Wellness is included in my daily agenda. It is important to exercise and eat well.

HW: It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, what advice would you give to our female readers regarding Breast Cancer Awareness?

CV: Listen to your body. If you feel something strange or abnormal in your body, don’t be scared, go to your doctor and get checked early. That one small step can save your life. It saved mine. It’s better to know than to sit there wondering and asking everyone else about your health and your body… You are in control!

HW: You are a daughter of a merengue musician did you always have a musical talent?

CV: LOL. Yes, when I sang, I felt there was something really special about using my voice. It just felt right. Natural talent , I certainly had. I have yet to stick to one instrument. I am free spirit and fickle at times, LOL.

HW: What advice would you give a young musician who wants being a musical artist?

CV: Half the battle is knowing what you want to do with in life. If a musician is what you want to be, then go for it! Experiment with your voice so you can find your very own style. Be unique. Practice your craft during your free time. Ask lots of questions. Set goals for yourself even if you are a beginner. If you hear or see something that you want to do, follow that sign and harness your talent. Listen to your creative spirit and stay away from naysayers. Do You!

HW: Your new CD single is titled “Alegria” (Joy), is it autobiographical?

CV: Yes, “Alegria” is very special because it was born our out of despair. While healing from the surgery and chemotherapy, I lost all of my hair but yet my spirit soared although my body had no energy. So, instead of quitting, I came back stronger with a song about Joy instead of pain. I am a happy person. Breast Cancer was only an experience.

HW: We heard that you are writing a book, can you tell us a little (or allot) about it?

CV: Yes, I am writing a book about my experience with Breast Cancer – an inspiring story about strength and wisdom. It also includes a chapter on wellness. Wellness of mind, body and spirit is a must so you can be your very best.

HW: You have donated your time to Children’s Aid Society, Columbia University Medical Center Survivors Squad and the American Cancer Society, why?

CV: I didn’t realize how many people were stricken by Cancer only after it happened to me. I felt that now I could use my voice for a greater cause – to spread awareness through my music. It just hits home. If I can lend my support in any way, I’m there!

HW: What is a fave thing you like to do or go in Harlem?

CV: Harlem is a one-stop shop! I can have brunch at the Harlem Tavern, work out at the New York Sports Club, catch a flick at the Magic Johnson Theater and have dinner at Melba’s. I can also go bowling at the Harlem Lanes! If I am in the mood to shop, I walk down the strip on 125 Street and see what our beautiful neighborhood has to offer. The people are amazing. An amazing place filled with culture and diversity. It’s the best place on earth. Except, for Chuck E. Cheese, I have to wear my ear plugs when I go there with my nephews because those kids are so loud! lol

HW: How can our readers stay linked to you and your work (website, Twitter, Facebook, etc.,)?

CV: I am very active in social media LOL. Say hello! I follow back! Follow me at my official website carmelinavargas.com, on twitter.com/carmelinamusic, and facebook.com/Iamcarmelina.

HW: Thanks.

CV: Thank you.

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