"Havana, ooh na-na.” The beat has taken the world by storm. Camila Cabello’s exotic voice on the catchy Latino vibe has successfully captivated the ears of listeners all around the world, standing out uniquely among the ocean of overflowing pop songs that sound more or less alike in the music market. Cabello has come back stronger than ever, responding to all the burdensome hopes and expectations surrounding her departure from the group Fifth Harmony. The answer to how she did so lies in her music.
Despite the international sensation the rhythm of “Havana” (2017) has become, it is less well-known that Havana is in fact the capital city of Cuba, Cabello's birthplace. Even less is known about the singer herself. Cabello’s second family name is Estrabao, a mark of her Latino descent. The Cuban-born singer has lived in Mexico City as well as Eastern Havana before she immigrated to the United States (U.S.). She spent her childhood in Florida, where she also began to pursue her music career.
Her Latino roots are unmistakably reflected in the beat of countless songs such as “Havana”, “OMG” (2017), and “Hey Ma” (2017). During her 2017 Women in Music speech for Billboard, she thanked her mother and fully embraced her identity as a Cuban-Mexican immigrant that made her the person she is today. She has also actively spoken out for movements advocating immigrants’ rights. Moreover, throughout 2017, Cabello has continually supported the passing of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act), a bill in Congress that provided some undocumented immigrants legal status.
As seen throughout her active support for immigrants like her, the twenty-year-old is not afraid to show the world that she is of Latin origin and that she is different. According to an article from Billboard, upon releasing an album that diverged so wildly from today’s mainstream pop beat, Cabello said, “What once seemed like an impossible fit all of a sudden makes sense.” Her resilience after falling out with the famous girl group Fifth Harmony shines in her music—it reveals one hundred percent her emotional pain, the lessons she learned about friendship along her journey of going solo against backlash. Songs such as “Real Friends” (2018), “Something’s Gotta Give” (2018) and “In the Dark” (2018) recount such narratives. To such vulnerability, the world has responded warmly.
Cabello's separation with Fifth Harmony gained much attention from the tabloids and press and soon turned into a feud. The Instagram war between Fifth Harmony and Cabello, involving photographs of letters, each painting Cabello’s departure in slightly different narratives, only exacerbated the situation. When questioned about the incident with Fifth Harmony in an interview with the New York Times, she replied, “I think there’s a healthy amount of space you need to give to certain things. I have to make space for the good stuff to happen in my life. I don’t like holding on to the past.”
The boldly unapologetic way Cabello portrays her truest self has made her stand out among other artists, whose voices are buried under extravagant pop effects. She has peeled off all otherlayers and remains true to her feelings, which has only made her stronger as a person and as an artist. Her unique voice and the genuine words she sings have encouraged many to embrace the irreplaceable person that Camila Cabello is. The same will no doubt hold throughout the many years of her musical career; the world will always be listening to the stories she has to tell.