If Joy Enriquez could tell the world one thing, it would be that dreams do come true. The 20-year old singer has the record deal and the gleeful smile to prove it. And she'll gladly chatter about her hometown (Whittier, California), gush about Barbra Streisand, or talk in detail about the R&B laced pop numbers she signs on her LaFace debut. But hard as you may try, you can't make the rising star toot her own horn, because it was God-given talent that got her where she is today. She'd rather her album tell that story.
Enriquez has been singing since before she could read – she even sang a solo at her kindergarten graduation. But it wasn't until she was 16 and a student at Orange County Performing Arts High School that she recognized music as her true calling. "In high school, I would perform regularly at the Mondrian Hotel in Beverly Hills, it sure beat my other job at Old Navy," laughs Enriquez! "But I guess it was my performances on "Star Search" that showed me what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, to be on stage doing what I loved most, singing." The year was 1995, and Enriquez was an 11-time winner on "Star Search," a bona fide audience favorite.
Not long after that, label offers started to flood in. But Enriquez was distracted by one lifelong ambition: to sing for one of her mentors, Babyface. So when she got the opportunity to audition for a spot in a girl group LaFace was putting together, she jumped at the chance. "I didn't really want to be in a group, but I'd do anything to get my foot in the door at LaFace," remembers Enriquez. "I just wanted to sing for Babyface before I signed anywhere else!" Enriquez' half-English, half-Spanish demo, written by her sister, charmed the LaFace A&R department, and just two hours after showing up at the label, she was singing for Babyface. "I sang a Whitney Houston song and a Toni Braxton song," says Enriquez, star struck even now. "And it seemed like from then on we were a family."
Enriquez' debut includes four of Babyface's songs. "It's kind of surreal to be over at Babyface's studio working and playing Sega Dreamcast and then go out roller blading with my friends from high school, but I'm getting used to it," she giggles, "his music brings out the best in me." In fact, all the tracks on her album (including "Tell me How You Feel," which Enriquez co-wrote with Soulshock & Karlin) are tailor-made for her crystalline voice, an endearing blend of youthful exuberance and studied soul. A star-studded group of producers/writers, including Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins, Soulshock & Karlin, and of course, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds all contribute to the arsenal of sweet R&B goodness on the album, ensuring that Enriquez transcends the boundaries of age, race and genre. "Music is always changing, and I love the fact that on my album, a lot of sounds come together. It's not based on a trend, and though there are Latin-type songs on there, it really reaches across the board musically."
The one constant on Enriquez' album is her emotional depth, another of the artist's inborn talents. "Among my friends, I'm the counselor, the listener," says Enriquez, who says she'd be a psychologist if she weren't a singer. "Besides my own life, I draw a lot of the emotion in my music from situations I see my friends going through. I feel other people's pain, and then turn it into something positive." She attributes her attitude to a supportive family and a strong spiritual life. "It's more than religion," says Enriquez, "I think it's important to have a personal relationship with God." My favorite song on my album is "Just When I Needed You." When I sing it I think of my family, who have always stuck right by me, and about God, who's been blessing me left and right!"
In all she does – and especially on her glowing debut – Joy Enriquez definitely lives up to her first name. "Sometimes we fall down, sometimes we're all sad," she says, "I want to make music that lifts you up. I want to be an inspiration!"