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La Diosa: Kali Uchis

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Valdosta chapter.

The best way to describe Kali Uchis’s sound would be a mix of Amy Winehouse’s Frank and early Billie Holiday, with a dash of reggaeton. Something unique in its own way and almost impossible to mimic. 

Karly Loaiza came a long way. Karly adopted the name Kali Uchis from her father, which is what the world knows her as today. What people tend to get confused about the Colombian-American artist is that she was born in Columbia. In actuality, she was born here in the States right outside of Washington, DC. With conflict going on in her family’s homeland, her father wanted her to have American citizenship. Once things began to calm down back home in Columbia, Kali and her family ended up moving back to Periera. Throughout her years growing up, she would spend time in both Washington D.C. and Columbia. 

Kali went to high school in northern Virginia. Like many teens growing up, Kali had a hard time dealing with authority and being told what to do, especially when it came to her dreams. She would skip most of her school days and find herself in a photo lab, creating visuals and short films. Originally, Kali didn’t intend to sing, even though she wrote poetry and song lyrics. She was always big on visual art such as films and hoped to work behind the scenes, rather than in front of the camera. Kali had creativity in mind and was going to do whatever it took to get her work out there. Attending college is what her parents had in mind, but it wasn’t in her intentions.

With constant broken curfews, her father had enough of Kali’s mischief. He kicked her out of his home, forcing Kali to live in the back of her old Subaru Forester for months. Kali was only 17 at the time, with a sour taste of what it feels like to survive on your own.  Often times, she would sleep in parking lots, with covers over her face to protect her from bystanders looking into her car. Kali also used this dark time to tap more into her creativity. She translated her feeling of loneliness into song lyrics, staying up until the late hours of the nights, protecting her from her night fears.

Thankfully, her hard times eventually paid off. Kali took one of her demos to the iconic band The Dap-Kings and jump-started her career as a singer/songwriter. At the fresh age of 18, Kali released her first mixtape Drunken Babble. She was just out of high school, living the summer and doing what she does best: creating. Two years later, Kali released her video “What They Say”, featuring Kali and her friends, robbing a guy’s Chrysler, and joyriding throughout the night. 

It wouldn’t be long before other artists yearned to work with the talented Latina songstress. Snoop Dogg reached out to Kali for his song “On Edge”. Other artists like Tyler The Creator worked with Uchis as well. Tyler reached out to Uchis over Twitter, and the two linked up. They both became amazing friends and music partners, creating hours of music and ideas in the studio. Kali was featured on Tyler’s Cherry Bomb as well as his recent acclaiming project Flower Boy

The next phase for Kali was her Por Vida mixtape, a contemporary spin-off of 70’s inspired music. As Kali’s first EP release, Por Vida will serve as one of Kali’s promising milestones. Of the tape, tracks like “Loner” and “Riding Around” would later be released with visuals, as Kali showcased her versatility as a visual director. In this time, Kali branded herself with bleached blonde-pink hair, heavily influenced retro styles like fur heels and pin-ups.


Kali Uchis has always been proud of where she’s from. Now, in the present, Kali is giving everyone a taste of her Colombian heritage. She pays homage to her culture by releasing her songs in Spanish, such as her recent collectives “Tirano (Tyrant)” and “Nuestro Planeta (Our Planet)”. Her visuals are on point and sexier than ever, using saturated red and orange tones to warm up the scene.  She’s out on her first ever headlining tour, and an album quickly on its way, with the raw and original lyrics from the Diosa herself. Music aside, Kali is also stern in the need for social change. She is a strong advocate for equal rights amongst women and people of color. 

Kali is an empowered woman, and I see no reason why she’ll ever become faded from the limelight. Kali is beyond alluring, crazily talented, and visually and creatively ambitious. She can harmonize like no other, perfecting each note until it’s solid, and creating music with the most realistic retro feel to it. I’m beyond excited to see all the grounds Uchis is going to walk across and conquer. 


Just your unaverage aspiring writer
Her Campus at Valdosta State.