Meet Mirtha Rico: a West New York-Based Singer

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It’s safe to say that we’ve all had a dream or two that we wished to chase. Most of the time, those dreams require sacrifice, tenacity, and confidence in oneself. Mirtha Rico knows what it’s like to chase after her dreams. She’s a hard-working Cuban-American musician who turned her challenges into lessons that have strengthened her determination in all aspects of her life. This is the story of West New York’s very own musical star — a pianist, singer, songwriter, and teacher who has an inspiring message for all of us through her story. Read on to learn more about Mirtha Rico, an incredibly talented Cuban-American musician from West New York who is on the path to fulfilling her dreams, and inspiring others along the way.

Humble Beginnings

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{Photo credit: @mirtharico}

Hailing from Bayamo, Cuba, Mirtha’s passion for music flourished during her childhood.

“I have amazing memories of growing up there,” she said. “It was in Bayamo where I learned to play the piano, had my first performances, wrote my first songs, and learned to love music.

Mirtha was classically trained at the audition-only music school in Cuba, La Escuela Provincial de Arte, and began taking classes at eight years old when she was accepted into their piano program. It was here that she learned the foundations of music history, music theory, singing, piano, and more.

Living in Cuba, Mirtha and her family struggled to make ends meet as many others do on the poverty-stricken island.

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“There is a lack of basic human needs, such as food, clothing, and in some cases, sanitation,” she said. “It’s not an easy lifestyle and so you have to learn to live with what you have and improvise when necessary. These hardships taught me to work hard for what I wanted and not give up easily.”

Mirtha knows first-hand what it is to fight for what she wants, and she has had an incredible role model to exemplify it.

“I never starved because my mother worked very hard and was a good provider,” said Mirtha. “But that was not the case with others I know of personally.

Growing up in West New York

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At 16, Mirtha and her mom had the opportunity to move to West New York to start a new life in the U.S. The small town’s diversity and inclusivity immediately drew Mirtha in and she was grateful to have found such a welcoming community.

“The best thing about West New York is the people who live there,” she said. “They all come from different countries, mainly from Latin America, and so when you live in West New York you get to experience their foods and their traditions; eventually they become part of who you are.”

Mirtha found it difficult to focus completely on her music at first while trying to learn a new language as well as having to help her mom pay the bills.
“I stopped making my own music for some time,” she said.

At Memorial High School, she was introduced to Mrs. Luers, the chorus teacher, who quickly noticed Mirtha’s talent as a singer and pianist, and Mirtha was then invited to join the chorus. Mirtha remembers her former teacher fondly. It was at this point that she was able to rediscover her love of music and adjust to her new life. Everything started to align.

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After high school, Mirtha studied Music Education at New Jersey City University and continued to help her family financially. During her time at NJCU, Mirtha performed at multiple student workshops and sang with the Afro-Cuban band, a Latin-Jazz band that played traditional Cuban music.

Combining her love of West New York and her musical talents, Mirtha gained a stable day job that inspires and challenges her, while also pursuing her dreams. She has been Memorial High School’s Chorus teacher for the past three years.

“It was very important for me to further my education at the university level and become a music teacher. The best thing about combining both occupations is that I get to experience the process of making music from all angles and perspectives. As an artist I get to explore my creative side, writing songs, experiencing the song production process, creating the visuals to go along a release, releasing and promoting songs, etc. I also get to perform and connect with people directly. As a teacher, I get to share everything that I have learned with a newer generation of performers and future music artists. It’s very exciting to see what they do with what I teach them and in turn, I get to learn from them.”

What the Future Holds

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Mirtha’s creative talent shines through her ability to mix genres when working on new music. From pop, electronic music, reggaeton, sounds inspired by her Afro-Cuban roots, and her classical musical training — the result is a Latin-pop sound that borders on alternative and is romantic and sexy.

Mirtha’s first single is titled Tu Mirada. A song that combines traditional Cuban music with modern Latin pop. “It sounds like a very refined and elegant Cha-Cha-Cha, but the introduction of the other sound elements gives it the perfect instrumental balance so that it can be heard in any situation,” says Mirtha.

Prior to the start of the pandemic, Mirtha released two singles on all of her platforms that have garnered recognition. She plans on including both singles on a larger project.

“I released Llevame Contigo and more recently Que Sera,” she said. “These last two songs are part of my first EP, a collection of six songs written by me that will be properly announced and released very soon.”

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Mirtha was hard at work during 2020 and was able to use her spare time to work on different things that she otherwise wouldn’t have had time for.

“I’m very excited to release the EP since I have been working very hard to write and produce the songs as well as create the different visuals to go along with the album during quarantine. I’m really in love with what I have been able to create and I can’t wait to share!”

Mirtha’s music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube.

Follow along on Mirtha’s journey on Instagram, Facebook, and her website.

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Yarleen is a lovable Leo and a proud Jersey girl with Cuban roots. She’s an actor and freelance writer with an affinity for poetry, astrology, and fried plantains. Born in Jersey City and raised in West New York, where she currently resides, this Hudson county native can usually be found with an Americano in hand, or any caffeinated beverage really. A St. Peter’s University alum with a degree in Communication and Media Culture, Yarleen was News Editor of her college newspaper, while also reporting for the Hudson Reporter and The Jersey Journal. When she’s not on stage, enjoying a new hobby {currently rollerblading}, or typing away at her laptop, you can catch her running along the waterfront listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers or exploring NYC galleries.