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
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.
It was the most talked-about moment of the night at the 2015 Billboard Latin Music Awards — Jennifer 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.
When I first met Jenni Rivera’s eldest, Chiquis, she told me her dream was to be on the cover of Latina magazine. It was very special for me to write this one.
Click here to read the cover story.