Venus Amor Is South Florida’s Neo-Noir R&B Princess
Standing in the spotlight didn’t always come easily for South Florida’s R&B princess Venus Amor.
Photo courtesy of Venus Amor
Venus Amor’s naturally pretty, round baby face is adorned with a heart-shaped tattoo under her right eye, and she sports numerous other tattoos on her arms and body. Her Instagram (she calls herself “La jefa”) is filled with grainy selfies in which she wears dark-purple lipstick, choker necklaces, and elaborate braids twisted up into high buns or snaking over a low-cut halter-top. She looks into the camera directly, with a sultry confidence that says, “You want me, you want to be me, you can’t beat me.”
Despite her edgy look, like a neo-noir science-fiction heroine with a penchant for Hennessy, the 19-year-old Amor confesses she’s a “soft lil bih” and came up from humble beginnings. When she was 2 years old, her mother moved her from California to Florida to escape a “difficult situation” involving her biological father, and Amor spent several of her teenage years homeless. “In 2015, my mom lost her job, and the landlord kicked us out of the house with no eviction notice. They threw all of our stuff down the stairs, including all of my music equipment.”
For Amor, music has served as a refuge from a tumultuous upbringing. In elementary school, she started performing in school talent shows. “When I was a kid, I got inspired by my mom. She’s a singer and songwriter herself,” says Amor. “She gave me her booklet of songs that she used to sing, and then I started writing.” When Amor was 12, her mom also purchased an entire band’s worth of instruments. “We set up everything in the garage, and every day after school, my brother and I would just jam out with some friends. Ever since then, I realized how much I loved music and how great it made me feel.” Despite their struggles, she says, “our love and strength that we had together as one [family] kept us so strong.”
Amor’s 2015 was also marked by a rocky breakup, but she channeled her heartache into her writing. “I recorded ‘Drink to This’ in literally ten minutes and cried the whole time. This is when I was starting to notice that my ex-boyfriend didn’t want to be with me.” She recorded that single and its accompanying EP in her room on a busted, 8-year-old HP laptop. “That laptop is so damned old, you have no idea, but that little baby held it down and has created some beautiful music for the soul.”
Her music is addictive and forward-thinking, making frequent nods to ’90s R&B royalty like Aaliyah and TLC without coming across as inauthentic. “If I feel like I’m getting creator’s block, I’ll go on YouTube and listen to my favorite songs to get ideas.”
Her management team at Driven Rebel, led by Jonathan Jimenez, saw the vision in her work and began steering her into a more focused path. “If it weren’t for [Jimenez], the ‘Drink to This’ video wouldn’t be done right now,” she says. “He helped a lot financially, and we’re about to build an entire empire.” The clip for that track, directed by Wavyl0rd, features an innocent-looking Amor rocking a trench coat and pigtail buns in her hair as she carries out a sinister act on an ex-lover.
Amor’s first full-length release, For the Time Being, dropped at the end of last year and flows effortlessly from track to track as she sings the story of her past relationship. Fighting back tears, Amor self-destructs in “Drink to This,” remembers how good the loving was in “Rock My World,” and finds closure in “Wish You Well.”
Leading the local R&B underground, Amor plans to set an example. “I want to be seen as a young woman doing it for the female youth,” she says. “I want these young females to believe that anything is possible; you can really come up from nothing... That is why being an artist is so magical: We are literally superheroes.”
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