Angela Puerta performs. (Photo by Hedi Rudd)

Her musical influences include Latino rock and pop, funk, alternative music, funk, boleros, reggae, and other Latin American musical traditions, but the bottom line is that she loves rock. And she loves Latin music.

Madison singer/songwriter/guitarist Angela Puerta describes the music she makes as “Latin rock music.” Puerta, who grew up in Colombia, has heavy rock ‘n’ roll influences including Alanis Morrisette, Janis Joplin, Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse, Shakira, Argentine rock band Soda Stereo, Colombian rock band Aterciopelados, and The Cranberries.

“Black Sabbath and AC/DC, too!” she says.

But she also loves Latin music. She labels her music as “Latin rock music.”

“I was 100 percent a rock and pop singer when I first started out,” she tells Madison365. “When I moved to Australia, where I was living and performing music, because I had these Latin genes and I knew how to dance salsa and merengue, I really got into Latin music.”

Angela Puerta

In 2011, Puerta lived in Australia and during her time there she really expanded her music career getting into salsa, merengue, bachata, and cumbia. With her band, they performed across Brisbane and Gold Coast, Queensland.

“I feel like it gives so much happiness to people when they dance to that harmony of congas, and bongos and full percussion that Latin music gives you that rock may not be able to give you,” she adds. “I want a combination of rock and Latin music.”

Puerta and her band will be headlining World Music Dance at Cafe CODA tonight at 8:30 p.m. CODA, a new jazz venue on Willy Street, will be presenting dance music from around the world and will be featuring cultural artists and bands performing live to world rhythms.

“We’re going to play some Latin music with rock fusion and some reggae and Colombian traditional rhythms. There will be two 45-minute sets,” Puerta says of tonight’s performance.

Prior to Puerta’s performance, there will be dance lessons at 7 p.m.

Puerta is even more passionate about music now as she was at 18, when she created her first cover rock band, Umbral12pm, while living in Colombia.

“I love the music that I do … the fact that I can go from Colombian folklore – really old Colombian music – to something contemporary like funk or samba mixed with reggae,” Puerta says.

Angela Puerta
(Photo by Jeff Alexander)

“I’ve been traveling for about 7 years and I finally feel like I have a home here in Madison,” she adds.

Puerta’s fanbase and following has been on the rise here in Madison and she is finding herself playing steady gigs at a variety of venues like Majestic Theatre, Overture Center for the Arts, High Noon Saloon, Brink Lounge, Memorial Union Terrace, and more. This past weekend, Puerta performed at the Memorial Union as part of UW-Madison’s homecoming festivities and at the family-friendly Kids in the Rotunda shows at the Overture Center for the Arts in downtown Madison.

“I realized that the kids really loved it … and I was having so much fun, too,” she says. “I sang cumbia to them. We went from cumbia to salsa and then salsa to a happy birthday song and then to merengue. It really kept the kids enthused. I thought to myself, if I can keep these kids entertained and influence the way they perceive culture, that’s pretty powerful … I’m going to keep doing this with rock and see how it goes.

“Right now, I’m just exploring music and that’s fine. If I fail, that’s fine. I just want to be true to myself,” Puerta adds. “I want to be who I am. I want to just go out and perform: This is who I am and sometimes I have trouble labeling it.”

Puerta says that she is especially excited about the upcoming Nov. 10 Video Release Party for the first song that she recorded “Un Mundo Mejor,” which translates to “a better world.”

“It’s a reggae song. Very laid back,” she says. “It talks about how each one of us can make a better world by having a good attitude and not wasting our time arguing or hating people or judging people.

“I sometimes sing it to myself, because I know that I judge people. Everyone has unconscious bias, so I created a song to remind myself as well that life is short,” she adds. “Time flies and if you don’t follow your passion and really take advantage of time and do what you really want to do, you won’t go anywhere. That’s the message I want to communicate.”

“Un Mundo Mejor” was mostly filmed in the center of the dome of the Wisconsin State Capitol building on a Saturday.

“It was during the Farmers’ Market. Everybody was surprised to see me there. They were like: What is she doing?” Puerta remembers.

But by the end of the song, the crowd that amassed was clapping for her and cheering her on. “I started to dance and sing and I invited people to dance with me,” she remembers. “It was very spur of the moment and it’s something that people wouldn’t see every day.

While music is Puerta’s passion, her full-time job is urban planning. She works for the City of Madison Planning Division, assisting with various neighborhood plans that are being developed around the city. She is an advocate for inclusive neighborhoods and eliminating discriminatory urban environments.

“I love my two careers,” says Puerta, who earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Universidad Piloto de Colombia and a master’s degree in urban planning from UW-Madison. “I love urban planning and I love music and I’m doing all of this work because I want to become a great musician and keep recording my original tunes. But I really love planning. I don’t see myself leaving the City of Madison.

“Unless I’m nominated for a Grammy,” she adds, laughing. “Then, who knows?”

World Music Dance featuring Angela Puerta will take place tonight at Cafe CODA, 1224 Williamson Street starting at 8:30 p.m.