The Best of the 2015 Billboard Latin Music Conference

Ivy Queen

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

Backstage With Daddy Yankee at the 2015 Billboard Latin Music Awards

Daddy Yankee

Mention the name Daddy Yankee to anyone in the Latin music industry and they’ll automatically think of the words legend, icon, or leader. Credited with making reggaeton a global phenomenon in 2004 with his hit “Gasolina,” the Puerto Rican superstar has more top 10s on the Latin Rhythm Airplay chart than any other artist (30) and more No. 1s on Top Latin Albums than any other urban act (6). It’s no wonder his peers — both established and emerging acts — constantly cite him as a source of inspiration.

When he’s not recording hits in the studio, Yankee is known for bringing the heat to any performance. The 2015 Billboard Latin Music Awards — which aired on Telemundo on April 30 from the BankUnited Center in Miami — were no exception, as Yankee took the stage twice. First, to perform his hot new single “Sígueme y Te Sigo” as a worldwide television premiere, and then with Carlos Vives and Wisin for “Nota de Amor,” an irresistible marriage of Colombian vallenato and reggaeton that’s as much about love as it is about dancing.

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Selena Quintanilla’s Family on Jennifer Lopez’s Tribute at the Billboard Latin Music Awards: ‘She Owned It’

Selena tribute Jennifer Lopez Billboard Latin Music Awards 2015

It was the most talked-about moment of the night at the 2015 Billboard Latin Music AwardsJennifer Lopez onstage, singing a medley of Selena Quintanilla’s most beloved hits, including “Como la Flor,” “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “No Me Queda Mas,” and “I Could Fall in Love,” dressed in a pale pink ensemble reminiscent of the late queen of Tejano music. The heartfelt performance came 18 years after Lopez’s indelible portrayal of Selena made her a household name. Backed by the original Los Dinos band — made up of Selena’s brother A.B. Quintanilla, sister Suzette Quintanilla-Arriaga, and widower Chris Perez – JLo delivered an emotional tribute to an icon whose influence is still felt, 20 years after her life was tragically cut short.

After the performance, the Quintanilla family opened up to Billboard about how it felt to be a part of such a special moment, where the idea for the tribute came from, and how they’re keeping Selena’s legacy alive.

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The story behind Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’

Mariah Carey

What would Christmas be like without Mariah Carey? It’s a sad, sad thought. But the crazy thing is Carey’s holiday classic “All I Want For Christmas Is You” almost never happened.

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the song, instead of focusing on Carey’s botched performance at the Rockefeller Center tree-lighting ceremony earlier this month, let’s revisit the backstory of perhaps the greatest Christmas tune ever recorded.

First released on November 1, 1994, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” was the lead single off Carey’s fourth album, “Merry Christmas,” now hailed by Billboard as the most successful Christmas album of all time.

In today’s oversaturated market, anyone with half an octave releases a holiday album. But back then, it was considered somewhat corny for a pop star to do so, especially a 24-year-old vocal virtuoso.

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Best of 2014: D’Angelo’s ‘Black Messiah,’ His First Album in 14 Years

D'Angelo

Photo Credit: Greg Harris for RCA Records

Fourteen years is a long time to go in between albums, but it’s especially long for D’Angelo fans. At the stroke of midnight on Sunday, December 14, however, they got an early Christmas present in the form of “Black Messiah,” the neo-soul singer’s first offering since 2000’s “Voodoo.”

Almost exactly one year after Beyoncé nearly broke the Internet by unexpectedly dropping her self-titled visual album, D’Angelo has managed to become a trending topic himself, except it’s not part of some flashy, big-machine, strategic move; he’s been working on it since the “Voodoo” tour ended (this according to his close friend and collaborator Questlove).

And there couldn’t be a better time to release it. With “Black Messiah,” D’Angelo has made music with a message that’s as poignant and relevant as ever. While not all songs are politically conscious, enough of them are.

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Exclusive First Listen: Miguel’s New Spanish Song ‘Destinado a Morir’

Really proud of this little video I produced for Variety Latino with one of my FAVORITES!!!

Miguel invited the VL crew into the LA studio where he’s recording his next album, due sometime this year, and talked to us about so many things, including what it was like to grow up Black and Latino, his kaleidoscopic view of music & art, and…how he lost his virginity!

Yep, great story.

He even sang a snippet of a new song in Spanish called “Destinado a Morir” — which no one’s heard before until now.

He loved this interview so much he shared it with his fans via FB & Twitter. And the best part is, we have so much great material from this interview, we’ll be posting more Miguel goodness in the near future!

I’ve been busier than I’ve ever been in my life — as in, I forgot what sleep is — but I’m also incredibly proud of the work we’re doing over at Variety Latino, which launched February 27, 2014.

Check out some of the other great CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS we’ve done with everyone from Lupita Nyong’o to John Leguizamo.

*Miguel’s interview was originally posted on VarietyLatino.com.

Remembering Jenni Rivera, the Music Icon and Mother

I Love Jenni - Season 3

The world lost one of its brightest stars on December 9, 2012. But for all her success, Jenni Rivera was also unapologetically real, vulnerable and accessible. In this exclusive interview, Rivera’s eldest daughter Chiquis reflects on the loss and honors the legacy of banda music’s reigning queen.

Read my exclusive interview with Chiquis on the new MySpace.

 

Latin Grammy winner Sergio George on success, loyalty and the rebirth of Salsa

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Once upon a time, salsa reigned supreme. Great singers from Cuba, Venezuela, Panama, Puerto Rico, Colombia and Dominican Republic introduced this vibrant genre to the world and we collectively moved to the clave, connecting with its universal message. As legendary BMI-affiliated salsa producer Sergio George puts it, “Not only was salsa the dance of dances, but it gave people hope, something to relate to, something to dream of, the possibility of romanticism during the toughest of times, a respite for the poor.” Somewhere along the way, though, the movement lost momentum and was overshadowed by other genres.

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Becky G profile for Rolling Stone’s New Latin Hot List Issue

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FOTO (Fresh Out The Oven)!

Yours truly wrote a profile on 16-year-old Becky G for Rolling Stone‘s new #LatinHotList issue, on stands November 8. I saw something special in her when I first met her two years ago in the RCA offices. She told me about her musical idols growing up (Left Eye, Selena), how her ‘Lita (grandma) taught her Spanish and always reminded her how important it is to honor her Mexican heritage, her plans to build a movement and take over the world, among other things. Somehow it didn’t come across as over-confident; I always believed she’d make it. Ask Dr. Luke what it is that he first noticed about her and he’ll say the same thing: her confidence and charisma. Because if you don’t believe in yourself, who will?

Then I collaborated with her on her blog, “Being Becky G,” for Fusion (ABC/Univision) late last year and that was super fun. It’s great to see how far she’s come in that short amount of time. She’s now CoverGirl’s youngest spokesperson and her #Beaster following on social media just keeps growing. In other words, she’s a marketer’s dream.

The RS cover line says it all and this is only the beginning…read the article here.