Here in the states, Latin pop was sort of new in the late ‘90s. We’d caught a whiff of it earlier on with Gloria Estefan and Menudo but it was just a hint of what we’d been missing. Then in 1999 in came Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, and Enrique Iglesias. We’d seen the light. Only we’d seen it WAY after other countries were already in the know. People in Latin countries were laughing at us like, “Yeah, we know these artists are banging.” Countries like Venezuela where Migguel Anggelo is from.
Migguel Anggelo remembers, “Of course, we listened to Ricky Martin’s ” Livin La Vida Loca.” It was such a huge hit everywhere, but Ricky was already super-famous in Latin-America because of Menudo. So, his breakthrough in North America was old news to us in the South!”
The Latin pop singer was already listening to the genre but admits he was way more into other artists. He notes, “Believe it or not, when I was growing up in Venezuela, I was listening much more to English pop music than Latin music – Madonna, Freddie Mercury, Annie Lennox…world music, too, even opera. Latin music is part of my heritage, but good music, GREAT voices – no matter where they were from is what excited me! Still does today.”
Today. That’s where we are with Migguel Anggelo who performs his take on pop but also has a lot of other projects on deck and in the works. That’s what we chatted about as he takes us from his days as a 13-year-old liar to the present as a budding voice in the New York scene.
Kendra: You’re not only an artist, you’re a theater performer as well. What came first though because you were playing Pinocchio at 13?
Migguel Anggelo: You know, I auditioned for the musical Pinocchio because I wanted to dance and act. Levy Rossell, the famous, wonderful and extremely demanding Venezuelan director (demanding in a good way) chose me for the roll (to my surprise), and when I told him that I could not sing, and he said to me, “You will. We will teach you, and in the future, that will be your first love.” He was right.
Kendra: Speaking of Pinocchio, can you admit the dumbest lie you’ve ever fallen for? Don’t worry, I’m very gullible and often tricked by my younger brother so I will not judge.
Migguel Anggelo: Hmmm…I’m not sure about a lie that I have fallen for, but I have certainly told a few! As a kid, I’d tell my mother all the time that I had gone to school when, in fact, I went to an audition!
Kendra: On a more serious note, you’re currently working on a show inspired by the tragic Pulse Nightclub events for NYC’s Fearless Series. What can you tell us about that?
Migguel Anggelo: David Drake and I are co-writing the play Welcome to La Misa, Baby. In it, I play many different characters that you might find in a gay club. A drag queen, a janitor, a mother, a young boy on a date, and more. The club was once a church like the old Limelight in New York City was. So our club is called La Misa or in English, The Mass. The gay disco has always been a safe place for our community. The tragedy of the Pulse Nightclub stands in direct conflict with the sanctity that those spaces usually provide.
The reaction to the first iteration of this show was terrific. Nowwe are back in the studio developing it MORE! We’re really excited about it.
Kendra: Can we expect that in 2018? Anything else you’re working on you’d like to share with us?
Migguel Anggelo: I am constantly working on new projects! I am writing a fictional book as we speak. I also just wrote a new musical based on a favorite Latin-American book that I grew up with.
In February, I embark on my second tour of Russia as a cultural attaché on behalf of the U.S. Department of State. I am singing with the awesome Grace McLean. We will be performing with Russian chamber orchestras as well as with a quartet of fabulous musicians from the United States. That includes with my long-time Musical Director Mau Quiros. The shows combine songs from the Great American Songbook with those from the Latin American Songbook. It’s quite a fun mash-up.
And upon our return from Russia, Mau and I will be back at Joe’s Pub with our show So Close: Love & Hate on March 28th and April 4th. Come see us!