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In January 2020, Chilean-American singer-songwriter Francisca Valenzuela released her fourth studio album, La Fortaleza, an indie pop record that offers an intimate look at a woman finding strength within and joy in life. At this year’s Premios Pulsar, which honor Chile’s best in music, La Fortaleza took home the award for Album of the Year, and the song “Flotando” won Song of the Year. Francisca herself, now established as one of Chile’s biggest stars, was named Pop Artist of the Year.

This success has been hard-earned since the start of Francisca’s career. Francisca constantly faced rejection from major labels and venues, so she set her own path as an independent artist. With the help of Chilean rock band Los Bunkers, Francisca recorded and released Muérdete La Lengua in 2007. In true DIY spirit, she used social media platforms like YouTube and MySpace to promote the project. Within a few years, her songs began to air on the radio and she would begin performing in major venues.

Francisca was born and raised in California, but when her family decided to move back to Chile, Francisca discovered her real passion for music and arts. Growing up in two countries at an early age exposed her to different cultures, influencing her outlook on life and her creative interests. Starting with classical piano and eventually moving into the world of pop, Francisca decided to build her future in music in Latin America.

Photo by Rocio Mascayano.

Four albums later and years of touring experience under her belt, Francisca has found international success and created her own community in the male-dominated music industry. In 2016, she founded Ruidosa, a Latinx feminist collective and platform that seeks to empower women and non-binary voices in music and the arts. Ruidosa hosts an annual music festival, workshops, and panels across the Americas to spread their message and build community.

In this episode of our “How I Made It” segment, Francisca Valenzuela takes us through her early life as a musician in Chile, overcoming doubt and insecurity, and finding international success with Ruidosa and La Fortaleza.

Featured photo by Rocio Mascayano. 

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