Bronx native and salsa star releases new song amidst the pandemic

Salsa singer Flaco Navaja talks about the release of his new Single Cántale a la Vida, produced during COVID-19
Photos courtesy of Flaco Navaja

While the production has halted on many TV shows and movies and Broadway shows have been put on hiatus, one singer and actor has not let the pandemic stop him from making music.

On Oct. 19, Bronx native Flaco Navaja released his new single “Cántale a la Vida.” Navaja, a Fordham resident until two years ago when he moved to California with his family, focused on creating something that gives inspiration to others and raises their spirits.

“This single was an opportunity for me to contribute to the narrative that this historic time is,” he said to the Bronx Times.

Navaja, whose music combines salsa and spoken word, started his career at The Point in Hunts Point. Growing up in the birthplace of hip-hop, he recalled that beats and rhymes and well known artists were always around him or playing on radios.

In fact, one of the first open mic nights he participated in was at The Point. He also fell in love with theater and acting at a young age.

“The Bronx has been one of the main inspirations,” he explained. “The sights and sounds of the Bronx are ingrained in my blood.”

One of the first times he knew he had talent was at age 10 when he sang a Ruben Blades song at a family gathering.

Navaja described himself as a shy kid, but gained an outlet to express himself when he discovered spoken word poetry. Eventually, Navaja grew to feel comfortable singing in public.

“I’ve always been fascinated and drawn to stories about people whose stories you normally don’t hear,” he commented. “I just like being on stage and performing.”

Navaja has been on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam,” “Pride & Glory,” “Fighting,” “Gun Hill Road,” “Law & Order,” and “CSI: NY” and is an ensemble member of the Puerto Rican traveling Pregones Theater.

Reflecting on COVID-19, Navaja explained it has not been easy on him, his family or other artists. Throughout the past seven months, he has enjoyed spending time with his wife Dilcia and two young daughters.

However, being shuttered inside gave him the chance to explore his thoughts and create new music.

He recalled that at the beginning of the pandemic, a melody without words came to his head. So he called a songwriter friend who helped him with the rest.

The song was about being alive and looking at the positive things in life. Everyone involved in the making of the single adhered to quarantine rules as everyone involved was in different states and never in the same room.

“This half of the year we’ve been dealing with some heavy social issues,” he stressed.  “Unfortunately we don’t have a president whose goal is to unify people. As much as this has been a difficult year, it has been an inspiring one.”

Looking back on his Bronx roots, he hopes that young kids in the borough know that anything is possible, no matter where they come from.

“I think it’s important for us to never stop dreaming and to never stop striving to tell our stories,” Navaja said. “Young people need to remember they are not voiceless.”