Corina Katt Ayala was a born performer, entertaining her family from the young age of 3. The child of Puerto Rican parents had an upbringing she freely describes as difficult, and it was her complex home life that first led her to artistry as a form of escape. She’d steal away whatever down time she could to lock herself away in her room and reenact her mother’s favorite songs.

Corina charted a string of dance hits between 1989 and 1997, with her biggest hit, “Temptation,” reaching number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1991. “I had recorded an album and wanted to have it distributed by a major label,” Corina said. She wasn’t having much success courting labels — due in part, she says, to an industry that didn’t know how to categorize Latin American artists. “Then I recorded ‘Temptation’ and it was a big hit. Suddenly the labels were coming after me.”

After ultimately signing with Atlantic, and later Columbia Records, Corina was on the fast track, making a name for herself with popular MTV videos and international tours. Corina has appeared in a variety of films, including Cradle Will Rock, in which she played Frida Kahlo alongside Tim Robbins and John Cusack, and East Side Story, costarring fellow crossover star Marc Anthony.

Her latest project is a Latin and tropical album with the working title Lagrimas de Sangre. “The songs for this album, as does all my work, just came through me one evening. I don’t sit with the intention of writing anything,” she said. Her first Spanish-language single, “Aunque Me Duela,” has already become a big hit on the radio and is available on both Reverb Nation and iTunes.

“I would die without my art, and I’ve dedicated my life to doing it,” she said. “I’m grateful that I am able to sustain myself and my family doing what I love.”