August 4, 2007 / 3:12 AM / 12 years ago

DeLuna's Caribbean dance fever turning heads

NEW YORK (Billboard) - On a recent summer day in New York, recording newcomer Kat DeLuna would not let a little heat or humidity dampen her spirits. In fact, it appeared only to heighten her positivity.

It doesn’t hurt that DeLuna’s debut single, “Whine Up” (featuring Elephant Man), is being championed across a handful of radio formats, including top 40, rhythmic, Latin rhythmic and rap. The techno-fueled track has even spawned the Whine Up dance, which DeLuna created while she was recording the song in the studio.

“Whine Up” this week ascends the Billboard Hot 100 and Pop 100 to Nos. 35 and 23, respectively.

“The single is going crazy,” said DeLuna, a 19-year-old native New Yorker whose family roots can be traced to the Dominican Republic. “And I’m the very first Dominican crossover artist. I couldn’t be more excited.”

In the coming days, DeLuna is scheduled to return to her family’s homeland to shoot the video for her next single, “Am I Dreaming,” a track infused with bachata, the popular guitar-based variation on romantic Cuban bolero that originated in the Dominican Republic. In reference to her label, she added, “I’m Epic’s Carribean girl.”

Indeed, Epic has high hopes for DeLuna and her debut album, “9 Lives” (due August 7), on which DeLuna co-wrote all but two songs.

Taking cues from Sony BMG artists Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, the label is promoting and marketing DeLuna to English- and Spanish-speaking markets. Epic’s partner, Sony BMG Latin, is helping with the latter. (Spanish versions of “Whine Up,” “Am I Dreaming” and third single “Run the Show” are included on the album.)

Surrounding the album’s release, DeLuna is confirmed to appear on “Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson,” CW11’s “Morning Show in New York,” MTV’s “TRL” and numerous Spanish programs.

On August 26, DeLuna will participate in the WWE’s SummerSlam event. The sports entertainment company has selected “Whine Up” as its theme song for SummerSlam, held at New Jersey’s Continental Airlines Arena. She’ll perform three songs during the pre-event proceedings for the pay-per-view.

And then there is the Whine Up dance, which has become a fan favorite on YouTube. For those in need of lessons, there is whineup.com. Visitors to the site can enter a contest to win a one-on-one dance with DeLuna.

New York top 40 station WHTZ (Z100), meanwhile, took the lead, launching a Whine Up contest and inviting listeners to send in videos of themselves performing the dance. The winners — a mother and daughter from Westchester, N.Y. — appear in the official video for “Whine Up.”

DeLuna also stays connected with her fans via her MySpace page, which she launched shortly after being signed to Epic in November.

Epic senior director of A&R Brandon Creed recalled DeLuna’s November audition well. “She sang an a cappella version of ‘I Will Always Love You,’ did a dance and then played a couple of songs she recorded,” he said. “While she didn’t come in with any real hits, she had that certain something — that X factor.”

Reuters/Billboard

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