Karly-Marina Loaiza, professionally known as Kali Uchis, is an R&B/soul singer and songwriter who has recently skyrocketed in popularity. The 29-year-old artist was born in Virginia on July 17th, 1994, to an American mother and Colombian father. As a child, she spent the school year in the Virginian suburbs with her mother and summers with her father in Colombia. Songs of hers, like “Telepatía”, “Dead to Me”, “Melting” and “After the Storm” have blown up on social media, most prominently on TikTok, launching Uchis towards mainstream pop.
Her song “Telepatía” reached the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart in 2021. This song removed “Dákiti” by Bad Bunny and Jhay Cortez. This made her the first female solo artist without an accompanying act to claim the number on spot in almost a decade. Uchis has won an American Music Award (AMA), two Billboard Awards, and received a nomination for the Latin Grammy Award.
So why is she important? Well besides having great music, she is becoming a cultural icon. Uchis is a strong woman who is proud of her Colombian heritage. She knows her ancestors are proud of her and guiding and protecting her in each step of her journey. Uchis is determined to remain loyal to her bilingual roots, even after she was discouraged and criticized for singing in Spanish. She regards her heritage as something no one can take away from her and she wants people to know stereotypes don’t define her and should not define anyone else.
Uchis has also been very open about her struggles with depression and her sexuality. She is bisexual, a topic often reflected in her music. Many of her songs are powerful anthems of confidence and embracing who you are. Uchis wants to inspire many young women to be independent and help them learn they don’t need a man to provide for them. Even though Uchis has been dating rapper Don Toliver since 2020, she is still a very independent woman, and her songs and music videos mirror that attitude.
Even though he kicked her out at 17 due to breaking curfew and skipping classes, Uchis credits her father with helping her find her artistic purpose. Her father came to America with nothing but a fourth-grade education. He was able to make a life for himself and his family before moving back to Colombia. She is inspired by his work ethic and love of life. Her father is also responsible for another important part of her career: her name. Kali Uchis was a nickname her father gave her as a child, and she decided to take it on as her stage name.
When Uchis was kicked out of her house, she lived in her car and wrote songs on a keyboard. The songs she wrote at this time ended up on her debut mixtape “Drunken Babble”. Following in the spirit of her father, Uchis worked through tough times and made something of herself.