Wednesday, just a few minutes shy of 4 p.m., Stefani Vara was driving from Corpus Christi back to her home in Houston after a quick day trip. It had been a while since she heard Tejano music. It's what she grew up with and she realized she missed it. She realized it was part of her roots...part of her. Far behind Vara's rearview mirror on the South Texas coast, Selena's statue was probably smiling. Gloria Estefan, you can smile too. So can you, Shakira. And you, Alicia Keys. Stefani Vara pulls a little bit from them all. She can belt like Selena, shake them hips like Shakira and make you dance like Gloria But here's Rocks Off's personal favorite part: She's classically beautiful like Alicia. Trust us, we saw it up close. But most importantly, for Houston and the great state of Texas, she's back home, after a memorable, but less-than-satisfying experience with indie label, Siri Music, that had a distribution deal with Universal. Six months removed from New York City, where her buzz was making headlines and she was sharing pages with Billboard chart toppers in Vibe, Vibe Vixen, Complex, and YRB magazines, Stefani is back home, because like lots of artists before her, she's realized that the love for the music is more important than the lust for celebrity status. The creative straitjacket music labels can put on an artist isn't always worth it, she found. Back from the big city, it's time to stretch out her arms from the creative restrictions placed on her by her label and by, yes, experiences with friends and love relationships, which she admits impacted her focus. "I decided to continue my musical journey in Houston and rewrite myself completely as an artist," Vera tells Rocks Off. She's decided not to be just another pop artist whispering her music over trendy beats. No, she rather move your heart, your body and your soul with everything she has with a type of music that's a hybrid of all the artists mentioned before. Last year's album Storybook Diaries might as well be put in her diary, because it's in her past and it isn't a full reflection of who she is as an artist, she says. "It only slightly touches on who I am as an artist," says Vara. "There is tons more passion, culture, strength, and flavor that I want to give and show."
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Enter "Middle of The Night," a single Vara is going to push this year, her rebirth into the music scene, if you will. It's the type of track that transports you somewhere else. That's the type of music we all want, don't we? "Middle" feels like walking to the next club as you're bar-hopping on South Beach. It's driving with the windows down during a warm summer night on the part of Interstate 45 when you're passing Houston's downtown skyline and saying "Damn, that's my city." It's asking the chick way out of your league to salsa dance and she says "yes" and you put the on the performance of your life. Don't believe us?
"I want to go back to a live band sound," says Vara. "Before I was signed, I used to gig with my band throughout New York City and now its time to gig throughout Texas and make my mark. I want my music to capture more of my musical influences like Gloria Estefan and Selena. I still want to give you that sexy, sultry vibe but with a twist of my Mexican roots." Home is no longer far behind in her rearview mirror. In fact, it's everything in front of her. Follow Stefani Vara on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Rolando Rodriguez is the managing editor of RedBrownandBlue.com. Follow him on MySpace Twitter, or befriend him on Facebook.