R&B singer María Isabel wants more artists who look like her on the music charts

María Isabel is a Dominican-American singer-songwriter from Queens, N.Y. The 23-year-old R&B singer, with influences ranging from Selena to Mariah Carey, wrapped up her debut EP “Stuck in the Sky” while in quarantine. 

“A year ago, I was post-grad at NYU, still living with my family and trying to figure out how to get into music,” Isabel told In The Know. “[I] would not believe myself if I told me a year ago that I figured it out.”

But even before that Isabel struggled with putting herself out there.

“I think it was just imposter syndrome, honestly,” Isabel told In The Know. “For anyone unsure about sharing music, you kind of have nothing to lose. Yes, I suppose if the response isn’t what you expected, it’s not the best feeling in the world, but I think it’s so much worse not knowing.” 

The sultry singer dropped the track “Distance,” about isolation and longing, in September. 

“So much of what I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone, I was always writing down and so I feel like that’s what’s translating in my music now is that it’s like, kind of like all of my secrets,” Isabel told In The Know. “Mental health is a really important topic for me. And it’s so, so easy because no one talks about it to feel like you’re the only person going through certain things. Growing up and realizing that that wasn’t the case or hearing somebody else sing or write about it kind like rocked my world.”

Now Isabel is starting to see some of the artists she grew up with as contemporaries. 

“Having people that I listened to know who I am and knowing that they’ve heard my music is so cool. ‘Cause I’m just like, I’m not a fan anymore. We’re contemporaries, we’re like coworkers. And also I discovered like two days ago that Sean Paul follows me on Instagram and that was a pretty big moment for me. I’m not gonna lie,” she said.

With her star on the rise, Isabel is looking forward to having a seat at the table.

“I spent most of my life in Queens, which is super diverse, but at the same time such a bubble because I’m so used to being around so many different kinds of people,” Isabel told In the Know. “And just like a lot of my culture, I grew up around a lot of Dominicans. So that’s a huge part of who I am. Becoming visible as an artist was important, obviously not only to me and my career, cause it’s what I love to do, but I also just wanted someone who looked like me sitting at the table.”

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