When I started my career as an entertainment journalist (and resident reggaeton queen) at VIBE magazine in 2003, I never would have imagined I’d end up here. My dream was to one day be an editor-in-chief (of a print magazine, obviously). Eventually, I’d earn that title, but in the digital era, where instead of worrying about selling newsstand copies and upping subscriptions I would obsess over site analytics. And what I do now simply didn’t exist back then, so I couldn’t have possibly known that it would be the culmination of everything I’ve worked for. But here I am, feeling incredibly blessed to have joined Spotify’s global content programming team as a Senior Editor. In this role, I curate playlists across a wide range of genres and moods & moments for a US Latin audience — from pop to Regional Mexican; from party anthems to children’s music. I also create playlist brands with a global reach and with the goal of amplifying the streaming service’s role as the undisputed choice for Latin music lovers. One of the most exciting parts of the job is breaking new artists via a collaborative programming approach across a global team of editors. What could be more exciting than helping the world discover new voices who have something powerful to say?
Here’s to the dreams you can imagine — and to the ones you can’t even picture yet, but are waiting in the wings.
Mexican brother and sister duo Jesse & Joy are well aware that when you listen to their music, you almost need to have a box of tissues nearby. This is not because their music is depressing (although if you’re going through a breakup it can certainly seem that way), but because it’s so visceral. This in itself is a gift. But then you factor in the powerful instrument that is Joy’s voice, Jesse’s production savvy and their unique bond, and you’ve got something extra special.
The same holds true for their upcoming fourth album, Un Besito Más (One Last Kiss), due Dec. 4 via Warner, for which they expanded their production roster to include Fraser T. Smith (Adele, Sam Smith), Grammy winner Martin Terefe (who handled production on their previous album, ¿Con Quién Se Queda el Perro?), and Dominican legend Juan Luis Guerra, alongside Jesse.
Vocally, there’s a newfound confidence. The first single “Ecos de Amor” (Echoes of Love) positions Joy as a soulful songstress in her prime. The visuals are equally stunning, thanks to Samuel Bayer (Michael Jackson, Rolling Stones, Justin Timberlake) who directed the single’s video.
That Jesse & Joy are doing it big is no coincidence. It’s been 10 years since their Esta es mi Vida debut, and, as Jesse will humbly tell you, “we know there’s something we do that connects.” So the trick this time around was staying true to their sound while exhibiting growth. “It’s a challenge we were totally up for and we put everything we have into this,” says the elder Huerta (he’s 32; Joy is 29).
Billboard spoke via phone to the two siblings, who were at home in Mexico City and offered exclusive details on the album.
Luis Fonsi, Juanes and Universal Music Latin Chairman/CEO Jesus Lopez (Photo by Manny Hernandez/Getty Images)
I had the pleasure of interviewing some of the brightest minds in the Latin music industry for Billboard’s annual Latin Power Players edition, out now. Among the execs I profiled were manager extraordinaires Johnny Marines (Romeo Santos), Fernando Giaccardi (Enrique Iglesias), and Walter Kolm (Carlos Vives, Maluma, Fanny Lu).
Check out a preview below.
Congrats to all who made the list!
It is the sound of the fastest-growing demographic in the nation — and one of the most diverse.
The Hispanic population of the United States, some 55.4 million individuals comprising 17.3 percent of the nation, is expected to double to an estimated 106 million by 2050, according to U.S. Census estimates. But just as Hispanics are more likely to self-identify more specifically by their land of origin, Latin music reflects that diversity through its styles — pop, tropical, regional Mexican and more — while remaining a unifying cultural force.
The 29 executives in Billboard‘s Latin Power Players bring these hits to fans within and beyond the Latin audience. Impact and influence certainly count for inclusion on this list, as do company market share and chart performance of the artists with whom they work.
For the full list, head on over to Billboard.com.
It was all love in the beginning of Maná’s Cama Incendiada tour stop in Los Angeles’s Staples Center on June 18, one of two sold-out nights at the venue.
“Los Angeles, we missed you!” shouted the band’s lead singer Fher Olvera, after opening with new single “La Prisión.” “Being here always feels like we’re home in Mexico, so it just felt right to kick off our world tour in California.”
And it was here, “in the heart of California,” as Olvera calls it, that he was able to take a break from singing party anthems and tequila-drenched power ballads to speak directly to Maná’s diehard Latino fans about something the legendary rock band deems urgent: the fact that we are anything but living in a post-racial society, as evidenced by Wednesday’s terrorist attack on a historically black church in Charleston, S.C.
Most people toil away in independent cinema for years, maybe even decades, before catching a big break through some sort of cosmic alignment and starring in an Oscar-winning movie.
Not Tony Revolori. The 19-year-old Californian with Guatemalan roots, who stars in the buzzy, nerds-in-the-hood dramedy Dope (out June 19), is doing it all backwards.
After a string of small television parts, he was cast as Zero Moustafa, the orphaned lobby boy and fiercely loyal protégé of eccentric concierge Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) in Wes Anderson’s dazzling 2014 murder mystery, The Grand Budapest Hotel. As the story goes, Anderson searched far and wide for the right actor to play Zero, who in the film is supposed to be a political refugee from a fictional Middle Eastern nation. The A-list director looked at actors of Israeli and Lebanese descent, but eventually landed in Los Angeles, where he auditioned Tony and – get this – Tony’s own brother, Mario. But in case you’re wondering – all is good between the two hermanos. In fact, Mario visited his younger brother on the set of Dope, along with Tony’s mom. (The acting gene actually runs in Tony’s family. His father was an actor, too.)
Miguel performs songs from his new LP at an album release party, held at Red Bull Studios in Santa Monica, CA, USA on 15 June, 2015. // Koury Angelo / Red Bull Content Pool
“Transcend.” That’s the word that Miguel used repeatedly on Monday night, June 15, to describe the essence of his eagerly anticipated new album, Wildheart, arriving June 29.
Dressed in a white robe and oozing sensuality as well as spirituality, the R&B dynamo previewed several songs from the album for a small crowd at Red Bull’s Studios in Los Angeles. Promoting the event via social media a week in advance and alerting fans to RSVP promptly, Miguel gave them a chance to experience his new music in an intimate setting. “Must wear all white,” he requested on the invite (and most everyone heeded).
The late, great banda singer Jenni Rivera once said “haters are just confused fans.” So it makes sense that although Jenni’s eldest daughter Chiquis seems to have an equal ratio of the latter to gung-ho cheerleaders, this in no way has deterred her from pursuing her own career in music.
And why should it? At 29, Chiquis has already endured more pain and tragedythan most people could conceive of (including losing her mother in a plane crash on Dec. 9, 2012) and has lived to tell the tale.
Despite being booed quite loudly on social media upon the release of her first single back in early 2014 (“Paloma Blanca” — more on that later), Chiquis dusted herself off and tried again, but not without remastering a few things, literally and figuratively.
Bomba Estéreo is ready for the big time. Nearly 10 years after the Colombian electro-tropical outfit started making noise in the Bogotá club scene (and then popped up on music lists galore), singer Liliana Saumet and multi-instrumentalist Simon Mejía are now veterans of the global festival circuit. So it’s only right that for the band’s fourth album, Amanecer (due June 2), they would take things up a notch — and we’re not just talking bpm.
Indie and self-contained from the get-go, Bomba was recently signed to a major, Sony Music Latin, which paired them up with a new producer, Ricky Reed, of the genre-mashing California group Wallpaper, whose credits also include JasonDerulo‘s “Wiggle” and Pitbull‘s “Fireball.”
The result is an album that is still very much Bomba to the core, but it also makes room for new influences. Recorded between the band’s headquarters in Bogotá and Reed’s home studio in Los Angeles, Amanecer should get them more airplay and even more gigs on the world stage. Take the lead single “Fiesta,” a party anthem dripping with bass and champeta that’s as much of an homage to the carnivals of their homeland as they’ve ever recorded, but it’s also a nod to Kwaito, an African genre of music fusing hip-hop, house, reggae, and traditional African rhythms.
I recently joined the extended Billboard family as a contributor and went down to Miami to cover the 2015 Billboard Latin Music Conference and Awards (April 27 – 30). I’ve greatly enjoyed collaborating with the inimitable Leila Cobo, who, quite simply, knows more about Latin music than anyone on the planet. She’s a pro, and definitely someone I look up to.
You’ll be seeing my byline on billboard.com/latin quite a bit this year, as I join Leila and the Billboard team in building the ultimate digital destination for all things Latin music.
Click below to see Billboard’s beautiful spread with exclusive portraits from the conference.
Billboard Latin Music Conference Exclusive Portraits
And click here to view all of our great online coverage from this year’s conference & awards, including exclusive interviews with Carlos Santana, Daddy Yankee, Natalia Jimenez, Nicky Jam, Luis Fonsi, Wisin, Carlos Vives, Ivy Queen, and many more.
See Also: Highlights From the 2015 Billboard Latin Music Conference & Awards
I was honored to contribute to Marie Claire‘s Global Beauty Issue (May 2015), spotlighting three Latinas whom I greatly admire: mogul (and all-around idol) Salma Hayek, supermodel Joan Smalls, and actress Genesis Rodriguez.
Follow the link to read the full feature —> Marie Claire