MIAMI -- Since the beginning of the year, Grace Kelly, a receptionist for a downtown Miami bank, has been a musical sensation in her native Nicaragua.
Two of her songs, translated from Spanish as "Let's Go Vote" and "Our Lady of Conception," were turned into music videos for the election campaign of Nicaraguan President Violeta Chamorro and her Uno Party.
After the Uno Party victory, Kelly sang at Chamorro's April 25 inauguration. Kelly's performance was broadcast live on Cable News Network and on Spanish language stations from Spain to Peru.
The video for her latest song, "We Are One Nation," shows Kelly among children of her country during a visit this summer -- the first time she had been back since the Sandinistas took over the government in the summer of 1979. The song is being played four times a day on the national television station in Managua.
"I've always wanted to sing for Nicaragua," the 34-year-old Kelly said. "I can't change or shape the politics of the country. I don't have enough political influence or money. But I want to sing for peace."
"Grace was very much a part of the Uno Party winning the election. Her music was very powerful; she sang toward the uniting of Nicaraguans as a family," said Carlos Briceno, general manager of the Sistema Nacional de Television, the national television station in Nicaragua.
During the campaign in late 1989 and early 1990, the Sandinistas controlled the national television station and allowed the Uno Party only 21 minutes of air time per week, Briceno said.
Kelly said Briceno, who had heard her music when he worked in Miami for Channel 23 covering the Nicaraguan community, asked her to send him two songs for the Uno Party. She sent him the two she had written. Briceno used them as background for two political videos that were aired twice a week, using four minutes of the party's scarce TV time.
"She is perceived as a heroine in Nicaragua," said Peruvian-born producer Paul Hoyle, who records Kelly's music in his Kendall studio. "She's very honest and she sings from her roots. The people react positively when they see her."
Kelly will write and sing eight songs for the New Year's Day Mass of the cardinal of Managua, Miguel Obando y Bravo.
Kelly, who lives with her husband, Albert, in Coconut Grove, will start recording her first album in Nicaragua in February. She said she hopes eventually to make her livelihood through music, though so far she has performed and recorded for free.
"Eventually, I'd like to make my music universal and sing in English," Kelly said. "I want to make my career out of music. I can do that by making music everybody will relate to."