The Australian-born singer claims Czech and Indonesian roots, collaborates frequently with Latin recording artists and has called the U.S. home since 2002.
"I'd always wanted to come to America, ever since I was a teen. The U.S. was the trendsetter in terms of music, movies and fashion, and I wanted to be a part of it," she recalls.
Her first taste of America was a taste of Madison, in fact. After coming here nearly seven years ago to do an internship with Chamberlain Research Consultants, she knew it was the place she wanted to call home.
"Although Madison wasn't New York or L.A., it didn't matter. It was in America. And after I moved to Madison, I fell in love with it," she says.
Though she's been working with professional producers and DJs since age 15, the move to Madison was also a fruitful one in terms of collaboration. Local DJ Papi Love helped her pick out a set of Numarks, and she immersed herself in the art of making mix tapes for nearly three years. Through a series of events -- including BroDJ's open mikes at the now-defunct King Club -- she soon found herself on stages and in recording studios around town. More producers came calling and she began collaborating with bigger-name industry artists like Big Sloan and Chino XL, picking up four Madison Area Music Awards and a seven-piece band along the way.
While this might lead some artists to cash in by making a boatload of party tracks, Alima's taken the high road, mixing crowd-pleasers with songs that have more of a social-change message. One such track, the Latin mix of her single "Trade," takes a heavy topic -- human trafficking -- and adds Alima's globetrotting spirit and the rapping talents of Chino XL.
The original version of "Trade" grew out of the film of the same name, which Alima saw for the first time at the end of 2007.
"That movie changed something inside of me. I didn't know much about the human-trafficking epidemic until I saw that movie, but when I saw it, I knew I wanted to do something to help," she says.
While all three artists were pleased with the results, Alima decided to make four remixes -- the Main Mix with the Hip-Hop "Pain" Mix with DJ Pain 1, the Euro Mix with Shafi Turner and the Latin Mix with Jake Johnson -- to give the song a wider appeal.
"The whole idea about making a song on human trafficking was to create an awareness for the cause, so I needed to reach a broad audience," Alima says.
Alima admits that the Latin Mix may just be her favorite version of the song because it paints such a vivid portrait of the trafficking issue and ties it to Mexico, a country known for its struggles with this problem. Jake Johnson and Jay Lechler added guitar to the track, lending it the ambiance of a live show, while snippets of Spanish conversations, contributed by Alima's friends, give it a down-to-earth, slice-of-life quality. In other words, it could've been part of the movie's soundtrack.
The song will sound even more true-to-life on Friday, May 22 when Alima hosts a CD release party at The Frequency. Speakers from a number of anti-trafficking organizations will join spoken-word artists and Alima's band to draw attention to the issue in addition to the music.
An MP3 of "Trade (Latin Mix)" is available in the related downloads section at right. More music by Felicia Alima is available on her MySpace and BroadJam pages. In addition, "Trade" has its own MySpace page.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.