Jenny Goes Back to the Block

Jennifer Lopez

Where is home for you? Is it the place you live right now, or is it the place from where you moved years ago? No matter our origin, for each of us there is a city, state, or location that holds a special place in our hearts. For me, no matter where I go, Chicago’s south side will always be home. Chicago may be synonymous with violence and murder these days, but it will always be special to me. Most of us have that place where we were born and grew up, that we cannot help but love. Oh yes, if you are like me the excitement builds within as a trip back grows closer. I find that I am not alone in possessing a willingness to return to the place of my youth. Moreover, I realize that my feelings are not just the thrill of returning, but the thrill of demonstrating my growth, physically, emotionally and creatively. Should Jennifer Lopez feel the need to go back to the Bronx to showcase her talent? After all, she is an internationally known superstar.

Jennifer Lynn Lopez was born on July 24, 1969, in the Castle Hill neighborhood of The Bronx, New York City, New York to Puerto Rican parents Guadalupe Rodriguez and David Lopez. At the age of five, Lopez began taking singing and dancing lessons. She toured New York with her school when she was seven years old. Her parents stressed the importance of work ethic and being able to speak English. They encouraged their three daughters to put on performances at home; singing and dancing in front of each other and their friends so that they would stay “out of trouble”.

While attending her final year of high school, Lopez learned about a film casting that was seeking several teenage girls for small roles. She auditioned and was cast in “My Little Girl”. After she finished filming her role in the film, Lopez realized that she wanted to become a “famous movie star”. Lopez was selected as a backup dancer for the “New Kids on the Block” in 1991 and performed with them during their performance of “Games” at the 8th Annual American Music Awards. Shortly after, Lopez gained her first regular high-profile job as a Fly Girl dancer on the television program In Living Color.

Lopez did receive several movie roles but the role that provided the break she needed was definitely the movie “Selena“. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times stated that “even in forgettable films like “Money Train” and “Jack,” Lopez’s presence and ability made her seem just one role away from stardom, and with “Selena” she’s seized the opportunity and turned in an incandescent presentation that is especially strong during the film’s numerous musical numbers“.

After filming Selena, Lopez was “really feeling [her] Latin roots” and cut a demo in Spanish. Lopez’s manager then sent the song, titled “Vivir Sin Ti” (Living without You), to Sony Music Entertainment’s Work Group, who showed an interest in signing Lopez. According to a February 3, 2007 article in Billboard Magazine, Tommy Mottola, the head of the label suggested to her that she sing in English instead.

By this time Jennifer Lopez was the movie star she dreamed of becoming as a child with successful movies such as: “Anaconda”, “U-Turn” and “Out of Sight” on her resume. Now Jennifer Lopez was going to release an album of music. Some critics had doubts about Lopez’s career decision to turn to music at the height of her movie success. In the book Latin Sensations Heron Marquez said “If the album was a flop, not only would it embarrass Lopez, but it might even damage her career.” However, Jennifer Lopez’s debut album On the 6 proved to be a hit. Marquez stated further, “Lopez’s musical success came as a surprise to critics; its launch made the popular actor even more popular”.  Toward the end of 1999 Jennifer Lopez had successfully completed the conversion from film star to pop star.

Throughout the next ten years Jennifer Lopez seamlessly went back and forth from movie project to music project becoming an iconic sex symbol along the way. Early in the year 2010, Lopez would leave Epic Records and sign a new contract with Island Records.  In June, following the departure of Ellen DeGeneres from American Idol, it was reported that Lopez was in talks to join season ten’s judging panel.  It was officially announced in September that Lopez would be joining the tenth season of American Idol. MTV stated that the deal was “mutually beneficial to all those involved”, while CNN reported that Lopez was viewing it as a decision to revive her career, while American Idol producers believed that Lopez and Steven Tyler’s appointments would strengthen viewing figures.

Lopez had no shortage of music for her performance in the Bronx as she soon will release her eighth studio album A.K.A. through Capitol Records. She gave her fans the concert they expected to experience. Yes, Jennifer Lopez has been around the world and back a few times, but like most of us she still looks forward to going home and did so with a free performance. I guess she is still just Jenny from the block.

We would love to hear your opinion