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Latin Artist on the Rise: Funk, Latin Trap, R&B — Ludmilla, Queen of the Favela, Does It All

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When Ludmilla stepped onstage to headline Palco Sunset at Rock in Rio in September 2022 — an all-star lineup boasting the likes of Megan Thee Stallion, Guns N’ Roses, and Dua Lipa — the Rainha da Favela boldly announced her arrival. Donning a black lace one-piece and a fur cropped coat, her long black shiny hair looking splendidly, the Rio de Janeiro native oozed confidence, and proceeded to belt out the words to baile funk banger “Favela Chegou” (or Favela has arrived), a single from her 2019 full-length Hello Mundo.

Rock in Rio is one of the world’s largest music festivals, drawing in roughly 700K attendees annually, and the performer had hordes of fans losing their minds over her captivating vocal range and powerful stage presence — and, to keep it real, her twerking dexterity. In March, she will appear in Lollapalooza Brasil, the same month that her next album drops. Her prior studio release, Numance #2 (2022), garnered the singer her first Latin Grammy for best samba/pagode album.

Ludmila Oliveira da Silva was born to sing. It’s something that comes “from inside my soul,” she tells Billboard Español over Zoom. The artist had just returned home to Rio from a business trip to Argentina. She mentions proudly that she writes most of her songs, and began to do so at an early age. Her inspiration? Seeing The Beyoncé Experience Live (2007) on DVD, a game-changer for the pre adolescent. “I saw her so free on stage, so happy, so confident, and I wanted to do that too,” she recalls. “That’s how I found myself in music.”

For a short stint in her early career, Ludmilla dubbed herself MC Beyoncé, and released her breakout hit “Fala Mal de Mim” (2013) under that stage name —  a viral YouTube release that clocked in at 15 million views at the time. While Queen Bey has been her number one idol, she also takes cues from SZA, Kehlani, and Rihanna. “They caused all this, you know?” she muses. “I really wanted to externalize these things that I feel inside me.”

Although Ludmilla’s admiration for American neo-soul, pop and R&B have helped fuel her creative wanderlust, her love for homegrown sounds is unparalleled. She built her artistic persona embracing Brazilian art forms, from samba to pagode and funk carioca, with an enigmatic flow that’s all in Portuguese where she reps life in the favelas, self empowerment anthems, and rendezvous encounters. She’s a household name in her native country, who’s widely recognized as the Rainha da Favela (or Queen of the Favela).

“I come from the favela here in Rio de Janeiro, where funk is a very strong genre. It’s a musical genre that saves lives,” she asserts. “In these communities, you have a lot of connections with funk and Black music.” Favelas have become synonymous with the slums, and although poverty and crime abound, music and culture are potent agents of change (think the roots of hip-hop in the Bronx). 

“I started singing and began appearing in the media through funk. I saw that my musical range was wide, that I could do everything I dreamed of, everything I wanted to do. So I started to invest more in this, and now I am at this moment,” she says. 

Ludmilla signed with Warner Music Brasil, released her debut 2014 album Hoje and followed up with 2016’s A Danada Sou Eu. By the time of 2019’s Hello Mundo, her star ascended higher: She made Brazil’s Top 50 on Spotify, toured Europe, and appeared in a 2019 single (MC Lan, Skrillex and TroyBoi’s “Malokera”) that starred in Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty fashion show. In 2020, she became the first Afro-Latina artist to reach one billion streams on Spotify. 

Last month, the rising Brazilian signed a high-profile management deal with WK Entertainment/Central Sonora. “Ludmilla reflects the true sonority that exists in Brazil today. She is ready to conquer the world by exploring our Brazilian culture,” Cesar Figueiredo previously said in a statement shared with Billboard Español. “Our alliance began a few years ago as a friendship and has since blossomed, giving us the opportunity to finally work together professionally. It is truly an honor for me as a manager to represent a highly regarded and iconic artist such as Ludmilla.” This month, she dropped the energetic singles “Sou Má,” featuring Tasha & Tracie and Ajaxx, as well as “Naci Pra Vencer” with Dallass.

With a highly versatile ability to create riveting pop that spans Latin trap, funk, soul and more, coupled with her alluring stage presence, Ludmilla is poised for her Stateside breakthrough. 

Name: Ludmila Oliveira da Silva 

Age: 27

Recommended Song: “I would recommend ‘Rainha da Favela’ because it describes who I am as a person, where I come from, and what I’m about. It’s about me, and it encapsulates the image I want to deliver.”

Biggest achievement: “First my fans, and second is that now I have the power to control my own career because people want to hear what I have to say. I now have full artistic control in my own market and a management team that’s helping me on this path. “

What’s Next: The public can expect lots of different things, like private shows, called Lud Sessions, which have become pretty notorious. Lots of collabs with people from Brazil and beyond, and a new album due in March.

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