When Fifth Harmony announced their
breakup "indefinite hiatus" earlier this year, it was only a matter of time before the members of the girl group started dropping solo albums — and fans didn't have to wait long. Just last month Ally Brooke, who signed a deal with Latium Entertainment/Atlantic Records over the summer, took the stage to perform her upcoming Latin-pop collaboration, "Vámonos." With a confirmed album on the way, Brooke is feeling positive about the direction her solo career is taking, and she's celebrating her newfound freedom.
"Before the group, I was out in L.A. for years trying to make it and pursue my dreams. Now, I'm back to that girl, and it's been the most liberating experience ever," she tells Refinery29. "I'm the freest and happiest I've ever been. I'm just able to do what I love, and there are no true barriers."
The Texas native has been taking her new independence as an opportunity to connect with her culture. "I grew up in San Antonio with Mexican and Tejano music, so being able to sing in Spanish is amazing, and my family is so happy. They're like, 'Finally!,'" she says. She also takes inspiration from Mexican-American artists like Selena Quintanilla. "I grew up listening to her, she's my all-time favorite," she says. And she's starting her solo career off with a Spanish song.
Her upcoming collaborative single "Vámonos," with Kris Kross Amsterdam & Messiah, comes at a time where Spanish-language music is surging on the charts. Top 40 artists are collaborating more and more with Latinx musicians, like DJ Snake's latest hit "Taki Taki" with Ozuna, Cardi B, and Selena Gomez, or Drake's brand-new collaboration with Bad Bunny on the single "Mia." Brooke is excited to be adding her vocals to the mix. "Our music has been here forever, and now, people truly appreciate us, our music, and everything that encompasses who we are," she says. "It's beautiful that I live in a time where it's being celebrated."
"You just don't realize what you can do as a solo artist, and the freedom that comes with it."
But it won't just be Spanish-language music from the singer. The 25-year-old worked on her debut album, which she says is "coming soon," with an all-female writing team, and the women are from different backgrounds and age ranges. Brooke took to social media last month to give her followers a look at her girl power studio sessions.
But don't expect any changes in Brooke's look as she reinvents herself, like a break-up haircut (because bands are basically long-term relationships). She says she'll be keeping her strands long, but is excited to test out different looks when it comes to hair and makeup. "I'll finally be able to play around with my look and have more freedom in my style," she says. "I can't wait to experiment once the music comes out and we do videos."
At a young age, she was inspired by the music videos of her favorite artists, like Jennifer Lopez and Rihanna. Seeing how these stars changed their looks for different videos inspired Brooke to get creative with makeup. "I would experiment with makeup when I was younger, and I loved it," she says. "Of course, working with different makeup artists, I would see what they were using on my face and observe the different brands. And I've always loved a good [false] lash, it's my favorite part, and I've been doing them since I was 15 years old."
So, with her lashes and frame of mind in check, Brooke is looking to the future as a one-woman band. "I've learned that I'm still creative, and I feel like that box was kind of shut off for all those years," she adds. "I'm now able to write and sing about what I want. You just don't realize what you can do as a solo artist, and the freedom that comes with it. But now, I'm finally able to be myself."
Today, there are roughly 55 million Latinxs living in the U.S. — each one of us with unique cultural experiences. In our new series #SomosLatinx, R29's Latinx staffers explore the parallels and contrasts that make our community so rich. Stay tuned as we celebrate our diversity during Latinx Heritage Month from September 15-October 15.