YEИDRY Found Herself Through Music—Now She Writes Songs That Affirm Girls of Color

Yendry is not concerned with the stereotypes that limit Latinx artists. Born to Dominican parents in Santo Domingo before migrating to Italy at age four, Yendry composes in Spanish, English, and Italian while incorporating elements of R&B, reggaetón, and afrobeats throughout her diverse discography. With a stunning voice and prolific pen, she tethers sonically to the African diaspora in songs like “YOU” and “Mascarade” where she collaborates with reggae legend Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley and Congolese-Belgian singer Lous and The Yakuza, respectively. 
A music creative with the nuts and bolts of a pop star, Yendry competed successfully on the Italian X Factor and earned a contract with Sony Music Italia thereafter. But it was singles like “Barrio” and “Nena” that helped spotlight Yendry as one of music’s most promising singer-songwriters today. Where “Barrio” illustrates a mother’s escape from domestic violence, “Nena” is inspired by Yendry’s personal narrative and highlights the consequences of forced migration
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In the macrocosm of white patriarchy and supremacy, Yendry understands that opposing standards hardly shields us from a world functioning from the very prejudices that impact Black and brown communities around the globe. “I remember my mom having to sit me at the table and have a conversation with me about the fact that we were Black,” she shares with Refinery29 Somos on what it was like to grow up in Italian society. 

Yendry is not concerned with the stereotypes that limit Latinx artists.

“She told me that it was OK that I had a different type of color and hair because I was born in another country with a lot of sun,” she continues. Yendry later admitted that being so young and othered by her neighbors and classmates affected her self-esteem to the point that she attempted to lighten her skin—despite already being pretty light comparatively—by scrubbing herself with lemon. “There's a lot of things that characterize people like us in Italy, but as a kid you don't really understand what you're doing and why,” she says.
Coming into herself inspired Yendry to return for the first time as an adult to her native Herrera neighborhood in the Dominican Republic last year. “I wanted to present myself as I am today and my music,” she describes tenderly, “not to an audience but to my family.” An intimate snapshot of this emotional homecoming is captured in En El Patio, a five-minute documentary celebrating her Dominican roots and what she deems the essence of her cultural fabric. “It was important for me to show where I come from, because I feel like a lot of people don't really understand that and are a little bit confused about me,” she says, expounding that she was raised by an Italian father figure and took on his last name after her mother married him. 
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Experiencing the consequences of institutionalized racism as a child of the diaspora often forces those like Yendry—female, first-generation immigrant and afrodescendiente—to negotiate their race, identity, and relationships to their homelands. We can begin to understand the historical significance and irony of a Dominican-born woman set in Italy in Dr. Lorgia García Peña's forthcoming monograph Translating Blackness: “It is a project that proposes Black Latinidad as a method for understanding the historical intersections of race, colonialism, and migration that shape notions of citizenship and belonging for many racialized people who live in Global North countries like the United States, Italy, or Holland,” García Peña said in an interview. “The book begins in the middle of the 19th century when the U.S. was attempting to annex the Dominican Republic ... and ends in the 21st century Italy with the new iterations of Black Latinidad that are emerging in Europe.”

At first, you just want to make music because that’s your passion, but then you realize that you are impacting people with what you say and do.

Now, Yendry, one of the most prominent Afro-Latina artists hailing from Europe, is having a career milestone. She’s been nominated under the category of “Breakthrough Female Artist” at the 34th edition of Premio Lo Nuestro, airing on February 24. But for Yendry, her role as an artist isn’t about winning awards; it’s about the future generations who’ll take to her music and life story. 
“At first, you just want to make music because that’s your passion, but then you realize that you are impacting people with what you say and do. You realize that someone is counting on you or taking you as a figure they can relate to,” she explains. “I started sharing my story because I know a lot of people see themselves in it. A lot of young, Dominican girls have told me they're proud to have someone who looks like them, who they can relate to, and who represents them and not just the industry I operate in.”
She doesn’t take the responsibility lightly. In “Mascarade,” the first-ever collaboration between two COLORS alumni, Yendry joins Lous and the Yakuza to deliver vocals in Spanish and French, respectively. The song, she insists, is “ultimately about people’s uncritical judgment.” In it,  she refers to herself as a “mulata” to drive a message of self-reclamation. “Si, yo soy mulata, and I don't care. I'm proud of it, because I've gone through a whole journey in order to be proud of that.”

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