Brenda K. Starr Is the Real Deal

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Amelia Orozco

In the earlier part of her career, Brenda K. Starr was known for her freestyle and pop hits. One in particular was “I Still Believe” from 1987. At a time when her friend, Mariah Carey, was an unsigned singer, she sang backup for Starr. Later, with the help of Starr, Mariah launched a successful career, and went on to rerecord the song herself in 1999. As of late, Starr has been busy with her own career, switching genres to salsa and continuing to work consistently with hits like “Herida” in 1997.

But Starr is far from done. Her show over the weekend, at Chicago’s The Arena, marked a new chapter for her. Starr was warmly received by Chicago fans, both young and old. Her performance was strong as ever, as she danced and gave an energetic performance, even sprinkling in some of her old hits. She was quick to thank fans for supporting her daughter, Gianna Isabella, in her recent run on “American Idol,” where she finished on the Top Ten.

As gesture to welcome Starr to Chicago in support of her new work and contribution to the music industry, Hennessey hosted a special dinner and toast in her honor at the exclusive, Nacional 27 in Chicago. Hennessey pulled out all the stops for delicacies and drinks for the diva, where she relaxed and spoke to members of the press, her husband at her side. Aside from the excitement of being back in Chicago, Starr reminisced about her time growing up in New York. She was one of seven children raised by a single mother who was Puerto Rican. “My dad was a musician,” she said of her Jewish father. “He was a womanizer and my mom loved him, but she just couldn’t take it anymore,” she added. When asked if she thinks she inherited her musical ability from her dad, she indicated, “My mom always had us dancing and singing around the house. She would tell me to sing this one like this and so on,” she said. Despite her mom’s not-to-happy experience from being married to a musician, she fully supported her daughter and her passion for singing and performing. This is something Starr is now doing with Gianna Isabella as she beams with pride whenever she speaks of her.

Despite some setbacks in her career, Starr is so appreciative of the life she’s had. “We have to through the bumps to be better people,” she shared. Selfless, she gives back by setting aside four days a week to coach and mentor kids in her community. She helps them get ready for auditions for shows such as “The Voice Kids” and others, and she is really proud of that, as she should be. Years ago, she mentioned, she worked with a local Chicago high school. She asked the band to learn some of her songs and then she came into town and performed with them. They charged admission and all the money went back into the school’s music program. “Chicago is my second home,” shared Starr during her performance at The Arena in Chicago.

Starr is working on the release of a new album due out later this year. When asked how it’s different this time around, she said, “It’s so different today because of social media,” she said of the music industry. “You need to have your Facebook, Instagram and all the others working for you,” she added.

In retrospect, Brenda K. Starr has given a big chunk of her life to music, from her diversity and versatility, to her struggle to stay afloat. But it has not been in vain. Quite the contrary, she is an inspiration for many people from all walks of life, as was evident by her show in Chicago, and she is one diva who has not forgotten her roots.

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