A Fast Rise for a Young Singer
Lugo's sudden success belies a down-to-earth manner
Being on tour is hard for a 15 year old. But it's even harder on the family dog.
Published on LatinoLA: January 4, 2001
"Corky runs away every time I leave town," Lugo tells me with a smile in his big brown eyes. "We had to get him one of those LoJack things." I laugh, assuming he's kidding. But it's true -- Corky has been outfitted with a special chip so that the family can always find him. It seems that Corky just can't get enough of Lugo.
And he's not the only one.
Energy sparkles out of Lugo's tall, lithe frame. At just over six feet tall, with an unruly shock of black hair and giant brown eyes, the high schooler exudes an air of anticipation and excitement. He finds it impossible to stay in one position for very long, and his long legs fold and unfold as we talk, as if they can hardly wait to get back out onto the dance floor.
And for good reason. His new single, "Boom" is a spicy Latin dance mix reminiscent of Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca", but with a distinctive pop flair. The single was recently released, and has been receiving ample radio play, and the CD will be released on the Elektra label later this spring.
As I spoke with Lugo, I was struck by the calm and easygoing confidence with which he discussed his sudden success in the past year.
"It all happened so fast. My first live performance was opening up for Lil' Kim and Jay-Z for a crowd of 20,000 in Miami. It was intense."
It is impossible not to get drawn in by Lugo's wide smile, and youthful charisma, so it is no wonder his career is already on the fast track. But Lugo always knew he wanted to sing.
"My family are all radio singers," he tells me, and I envision Lugo's mother and father gathered around a mic in front of a studio audience. "I mean we all sing along with the radio," he corrects me with his gentle smile, and laughs.
Lugo is definitely in a good mood, and it's no wonder. From the beginning, people noticed his talent. It started with a grade school teacher who encouraged him after she heard him singing in the school choir. Then, just over a year ago at a local Miami talent contest, he was approached by music guru Dallas Austin, who has produced such top name talent as TLC and the Backstreet Boys. Austin wasn't about to let Lugo's raw talent slip away, and he quickly flew the young singer to a TLC concert in Atlanta, where Lugo was given the star treatment -- much to his surprise.
"He took me out onstage and they sang a whole song to me. And Chili kissed me right on the lips!" He blushes, and laughs a little, and for the first time since we sat down I remember that he is only 15.
After Austin signed him, and hooked him up with record label Elektra, Lugo's career really jumped into high gear. He recently came to L.A. to shoot his first music video, as well as television appearances on the Fox Family Channel and KMEX."The Fox Family Channel was my favorite thing so far," Lugo says, leaning forward earnestly. "It was to benefit underpriveledged children, and I liked that a lot."
So far, Lugo is impressed with the L.A. Latino scene. "It's very hot, very in-your-face. It's different from Miami, where there is a wider variety of Latin cultures. But here in L.A. so much is happening."
Lugo's whirlwind L.A. trip is nearly at an end, and soon he will head back to Miami to see his family and finish recording his CD.
"I always like going home," he said. "I miss my family and friends."
After a quick hiatus in Miami, Lugo is off again, this time to the East Coast for a tour with the band O Town. "I am definitely going to finish high school and eventually go to college," he says, when I ask him about his busy schedule. "And I want to go to my senior prom and all that. But for now I need to focus on my singing."
And Lugo is doing that. When his CD is released in March, it's hard to imagine what might happen next. Lugo already has a large fan base in Miami, which is expanding across the country with each new appearance. Lugo is excited about his fans, who post messages on the Elektra website and call in to radio stations requesting his songs.
"It's so exciting," he said. "It's great to see so many people excited about the single."
So it looks like poor Corky, the family dog, will have to hang on just a little bit longer if he wants to spend time with his master. Lugo is on the fast track to success, and it's anybody's guess how far he'll go.