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Kali Uchis attends the Roc Nation pre-Grammy brunch at One World Trade Center in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

“I never had a backup plan,” says Kali Uchis, a pop dreamer now making her dreams come true in starry Los Angeles. “I felt like if I had a backup plan, it was like saying to the universe that I didn’t believe in myself.”

As for her other conversations with the cosmos, they’ve convinced the coolheaded, hyper-ambitious pop singer that she can go with the flow all the way to the top.

She’s certainly en route. The currents that first swept Uchis off to California a couple of years ago have since guided her into collaborations with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Bootsy Collins, Tyler the Creator, Juanes and other notables who’ve invited the singer to stretch her elastic voice over reggaeton rhythms, rap pulses and more.

Uchis says she first learned how to make her voice – and her brain – flexible in the “musically enhanced” environment of Northern Virginia, where she grew up listening to jazz, rock, go-go and whatever else happened to be floating in the air.

“act natural”

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“When I’m making a song, I try not to think about audience or genres,” she says. “It’s free-flowing. Natural. That’s the best kind of music. The stuff that happens based off intuition.”

Trusting her gut has served Uchis well. She’s finishing her debut album, and she’ll hit the road soon to open for Lana Del Rey.

just a casual photo real quick

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Of course, Uchis would love to be headlining cavernous venues on her own someday, but following her lead, we’ll have to wait and see what happens next.

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