“I always dreamed of being a performer,” says Stebani Cruz. “But no matter what you dream, life has a way of changing your course and it isn’t until something catches your eye and gets you back on track and returns you to your passion.”
Cruz had no idea that her new found passion would come from music Her career path found a new direction in 2006 after she was diagnosed with viral meningitis, which caused brain swelling and severe memory loss. Told she also had a brain aneurysm and a 40 percent chance of survival, she fought back. “I lost my walking and motor skills and was bedridden for an entire year,” she says. “But I wasn’t going to give up.”
On the advice of doctors, she began writing songs as a way to exercise her brain and recover her memory. She wrote about her fears, her determination, her refusal to not accept defeat, and she found her voice. “It became my way my path of expression of what I was feeling,” she says. “It gave me purpose. It became my therapy. I didn’t choose music, music chose me.”
Three years of grueling recovery followed, but instead of surrendering to depression and fear, she resolved to live life fully and happily. She poured raw emotion into her music, becoming a role model for young Latina women. “I don’t see obstacles in life,” she says. “If you hit a wall, you break through it. Failure is not an option to me. When you believe in something so deeply, it’s contagious and others believes in it with you.”
With that attitude, Cruz’s natural talent blossomed. She partnered with songwriter and producer Eddy Baez on her first single, “Fueste Tu – “Forbidden Love” in 2008.
One year later she spiced things up refining her message of hope and empowerment. working on her 12 track CD a work in progress “Me Gusta Asi” with co-writer and producer Randy Melendez.
In 2011, she recorded a music video for “Como Fue Que Paso,” which was dedicated to American soldiers and their families. Cruz then founded “Stars, Stripes & Hearts,” a non-profit organization that raises funds through benefit concerts to support Hispanic men and women serving in the U.S. Military.
Cruz’s determination was instilled in her as a child. Living in a tough neighborhood in Brooklyn where she learned the power of dreaming that anything was possible, “That’s what shaped my music into what it is today,” she says. “My music is about sharing that dream, especially with other women, especially young Latina girls who are going through the same struggles that I went through. But really, it’s a message for anyone who has ever had to face something hard and get past it.”
Her new album, “Renacida,” or “Reborn,” speaks to her transformation and perseverance. “It’s about possibilities,” she says. “There are always outlets and options, no matter what has happened to you. It tells stories of the multitude of emotions we all go through. My songs are about taking responsibility for your choices and when they don’t turn out well, picking up the pieces and moving on.”
Produced by Marcos Ramirez and Rafa Torres of “Los Tranz4merz,” her new Mambo-techno-Latin pop album features merengue tracks such as “Me Di Cuenta,” the dub-step inspired “Tal Como Soy,” and Reggae-filled vibes from “Peligro,” and Reggae “Candela”
“I want my audience to dream with me,” Cruz says. “When they look at who I am and what I have done, I want them to hear my music and say ‘I Can.’ That’s who I want to be, the ‘I Can’ artist.”