Romeo Santos, Prince Royce-Inspired Bachata Artist & Aventura Collaborator 'Lynx' Infuses Uplifting Autism, Special Needs Message into Music
"They're the brightest people you'll ever meet in life. If you're going through a dark time, their light will illuminate you," ("Son las personas más brillantes que en esta vida conocerás / Si tu mundo se oscurece, su luz te iluminara") -- Bachata artist Lynx, in his new single, "Somos Uno" ("We Are One"), which honors those with disabilities and special needs, including his greatest inspiration, his youngest brother, Leonardo who is blind and autistic.
While most bachata songs are typically about love and heartache, "Somos Uno," which was released Aug. 12, tackles a sensitive topic that's uncommon in the bachata genre.
The Bronx native, whose real name is Ralphy Mata, goes by the name "Lynx," a Greek-rooted word that refers to a wildcat considered "mysterious and elusive," -- like myself, Mata told Latin Post. "I am a hard shell to crack, I'm reserved."
Yet it seems that Mata's shell has a few cracks, for he's emphasizing the need for love, compassion, understanding and equality for the disabled -- a topic that might not necessarily come easy for some Latino men, and one that didn't initially come easy for Mata.
"I have seen cases where there are people who have a loved one who has special needs or is disabled, but they are ashamed and embarrassed to say it publicly," he explained. "It's a shame that it's like that, but I wanted to get through to them with this song, so I used myself as an example."
In "Somos Uno," Mata sings, "I am the brother of Leonardo who's autistic and blind and I say it to the world with my head held high," ("Yo soy hermano de Leonardo, autista y ciego / Se lo digo al mundo con la cabeza en alto").
Mata, who is of Dominican and Ecuadoran descent, is the youngest of four brothers. "[Leonardo] is the one who really keeps me focused on my career; he's the one who inspired me," he added. "When I was younger, I didn't really understand it, but with time, I understood it. We grew to love him and treat him like he was one of us."
Mata recalled the times when his mother was often brought to tears after bringing Leonardo to the playground. Grown adults, who should have known better, would blatantly stare at Leonardo whose blindness caused his eye to lose color.
Despite seeing how cruel the outside world can be, Mata also witnessed his brother thrive, from playing baseball to listening to music and dancing.
"It's like he has a recorder in his head, he remembers everything. He loves music. He is very in tune with that," he said. "He enjoys singing...he even loves dancing and being in this world. He's loving it."
Have the Latino community and the bachata music industry reacted well to his message?
"I believe so, do think they will jump on this, and the reason why is I am very observant and I like to see the way people react ... I have been getting a lot of great comments and feedback on social media and through texts," he said. "This is something that I think Latinos support. Latinos are unified; it's all about family values for Latinos ... It's not a gimmick, it's a serious issue and it's a topic that people don't talk about very much, but people do care. Latinos in general do care."
The uplifting "Somos Uno" also aims to encourage others to view people with special needs as equals, and never to underestimate their potential. The lyrics also pay homage to inspirational blind musicians, such as Puerto Rican singer and guitarist Jose Feliciano and the legendary singer and pianist Stevie Wonder, as well as Michael J. Fox, who has been battling Parkinson's disease.
"They can become a great actor like Michael J. Fox, just like you they can go far in life." ("Pueden ser un gran actor como Michael J. Fox, como tú ellos también lejos pueden llegar"), Mata sings.
In the near future, Mata and his mother hope to establish a charitable foundation in Leonardo's name.
In October of 2013, Mata released his debut single, "Máscara" featuring Aventura's bachata legend, Lenny Santos, which was well-received. "Mi Debilidad," Lynx's second single, which was released in early 2014, "has also been highly acclaimed by fans and radio personalities alike for its lyrical distinctiveness." Both songs have received airplay on online radio, and both FM and AM stations in Miami, Orlando, and New York.
While most would relish in the attention, it's quite the opposite for Mata.
Once a tough kid from the Bronx, who unassumingly started writing poetry at 13, Mata was given the moniker, "rebelde," (rebel) from his father.
"My father would always play the old-school bachata music, which I always joked that it was 'la musica de los viejos.'" At the time, Mata said he didn't like bachata and only wanted to hear what he liked, rap music by Eminem and Tupac. Secretly, he also loved his father's bachata music and would listen to it on his own terms, just like a "rebelde."
Today, Mata exudes a humbleness and compassion, which is quite refreshing for an aspiring artist who's trying to break into the music business.
"Because of my parents' style in music, I was always surrounded by bachata, merengue, cumbia and ballads," he said. His mother's "romantic taste in music" also influenced Mata to absorb "the emblematic dialect regularly used by artists such as Camilo Sesto, Roberto Carlos, and Alejandro Fernandez."
While some bachata artists sing in "Spanglish," like one of Mata's infleunces, Romeo Santos who teamed up with Usher for "Promise," Mata prefers to sing in Spanish and keep that "old-school" tradition alive. He also wants to make native Spanish-speakers feel at home when listening to his music.
Plus, he adds, "I think the Spanish language is beautiful."
"Somos Uno" is one of 8 songs that will be on Lynx's debut album, which is set to release in mid-November.
Click here to download "Somos Unos" on iTunes. "Somos Uno" is also available on Amazon, Spotify and GooglePlay.