For some, an eight-year hiatus from the music industry can mean total extinction. For BMI songwriter Carlos Vives, it meant exactly the opposite: a rebirth. The 51-year-old Colombian superstar’s formidable comeback in 2013 is a testament to his timeless sound, his growth as a songwriter and his newfound love for life and music.
Flashback to 2004, and Vives was one of Colombia’s hottest musical exports, along with his compatriots (and fellow BMI members) Shakira and Juanes. The work that he and his band, La Provincia, started in 1994 on his breakthrough album of vallenato standards with a modern twist, Clasicos de la Provincia (Classics From the Province), was finally paying off in a big way. He had a GRAMMY under his belt, he could easily sell out arenas across the United States as well as abroad and the sound he created – tropical pop or tropi-pop for short – dominated the airwaves. Life at home was equally great; Vives was happily married with two kids.
But things took a turn that same year. His marriage to Puerto Rican actress, Herlinda Gomez, dissolved and his longtime contract with EMI came up for renewal. When a deal couldn’t be reached, the label let their option expire. According toBillboard, this may have had something to do with the fact that the label was undergoing ownership and management changes around the same time – among other factors. When his management at the time failed to reach a new deal with another record label, Vives retreated from the spotlight in his home country, played the occasional local concert, created children’s music and opened up a nightclub. Happily married to former Miss Colombia Claudia Elena Vasquez, he expanded his family while also writing and producing for other acts. Nearly a decade later, with music industry veteran Walter Kolm as his new manager and Vasquez as his closest advisor, Vives is hotter than ever. Under a new record deal with Sony Music Latin, Vives released his latest album, Corazon Profundo (Deep Heart), in April 2013. The work debuted atop Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart led by the hit single, “Volvi a Nacer” (Born Again). Add to that his recent stint on the Colombian TV edition of The Voice and a worldwide tour that kicks off this month in Panama, and it’s safe to say Vives is back. BMI chatted with Vives via phone about his big comeback, just weeks before he kicked off his tour.
There was only one good reason to trek it from Los Angeles to Bakersfield, CA this past Friday night: I got a backstage VIP pass to the kick-off concert to Juanes’ highly anticipated 2013 “Loud and Unplugged” summer tour.
Without exaggerating, I can say that Juanes and his bandmates – Rafael Sandoval on the sax, Edilberto Lievano on the trombone, Orlando Barreda on the trumpet, Juan Pablo Daza and Fernando Tobon on guitar, Felipe Navia on bass, Felipe Alzate and Richard Bravo on percussion, Waldo Madera on drums, and Emmanuel Briceño on the keyboard – have never sounded tighter.
For one, Juanes has never toured with a full horn section. Then again, if you’ve listened to Juanes’ MTV Unplugged album you know that he has strived for (and undoubtedly reached) a new level of musicianship. El maestro Juan Luis Guerra (who executive produced the Unplugged album) had a little something to do with that.
Whatever you do, don’t miss the chance to check Juanes out when he comes your way (peep the tour dates here).
And if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to experience a Juanes show from the inside, this should give you an idea …
Check out the photos on Fusion (ABC/Univision), where this story was originally published.
Bossing around Armandito on set.
Recently, I scored an exclusive invite to the set of Dancing With The Stars in LA, where Armando Christian Perez (better known as Armandito, or that lil’ chico Pit), was shooting a promo for the upcoming 16th season of everyone’s favorite reality dancing competition.
I happily watched as Mr. Worldwide injected everyone in the room with his dose of feel-good energy to the tune of his latest single, “Feel This Moment,” featuring fellow Latina A-lister, Christina Aguilera.
Though Xtina wasn’t there, we took the opportunity to ask El Señor Worldwide about how she and all the other iconic Latinas that he’s collaborated with (J.Lo, Shakira, Paulina Rubio, the list goes on and on) have influenced him.
He also told us why he thinks people continue to connect globally with his videos, the first artist that made him want to bust a move, why he loves Miami and what his mother, tia and abuelita have taught him about life.
Watch the exclusive video at Latina.com and tell me: what do you love most about him?
If you’re a music journalist and you’ve written about R&B dynamo Miguel in 2012, chances are you’ve put the 27-year-old and Prince in the same sentence, as I have. And that’s cool, says Miguel. Just don’t get used to it.
“I’m offended for Prince because I’m such a huge fan of his and you can’t compare anyone to Prince,” says Miguel. “But if I’m associated with any ounce of greatness then that’s a huge compliment – and that’s what I think of when I think of Prince; I think of greatness, I think of timelessness, creativity, longevity, just unapologetic and unwavering sense of self. I can only hope to remind people of greatness.”
There’s no doubt that 2012 was Miguel’s breakout year. True, he had shown promise on his 2010 debut album All I Want Is You, but it was this year’s follow-up, Kaleidoscope Dream, that earned high praise from critics and fans alike, who unanimously seemed to agree that Miguel was part of an exciting crop of artists intent on saving a dying genre. “[Frank Ocean’s] Channel Orange, [Miguel’s] Kaleidoscope Dream, and [The Weeknd’s] Trilogy rescued the art form from the monotony of ‘baby, baby please’ as Ocean, Miguel and Weeknd casually re-created it in their own images,” wrote Rebecca Thomas at MTV.
In many ways, that monotony Thomas writes of began when the self-proclaimed Pied Piper of R&B himself, R. Kelly, committed career suicide circa 2002. The game was just never the same – until now. As music journalist Erik Parker puts it, “Miguel’s music came at a time when there was a wide open lane. He split the difference between Trey Songz’ sex appeal and Frank Ocean’s exotic and left-field style. He’s pushing the boundaries in an artistic way that is not too much in the clouds. He’s stretching R&B but it doesn’t feel forced or too self-aware.”
With five Grammy nominations, including Song of the Year and Best R&B Performance for “Adorn,” and Best Urban Contemporary Vocal Album and a spring tour with Alicia Keys coming up, 2013 is looking even better for Miguel.
Jenni Rivera’s fans, friends, and family bid farewell to La Diva de la Banda today from the Gibson Amphitheater in Los Angeles in a memorial service led by her brother, Rev. Pedro Rivera Jr.
The ceremony was not open to the press, only fans with tickets were able to attend, although a livestream was made available by several media outlets. Tickets, which were $1, appear to have sold out within the hour after they were made available on Tuesday. Even fans who didn’t get tickets found a place outside the theater to honor their idol, like Lisseth De Paz, 13, who watched the ceremony from a giant screen and held a Jenni Rivera poster and a white rose. “I love her,” she said. “I grew up listening to her music. My mom introduced me. I’ll always remember who she was and how she turned her stories into songs.”
Xochitl Rosas, 36, also had to watch from the outside. “I liked her trajectory, her life was meaningful to me,” she said. “Her songs gave me strength. She overcame domestic violence. It didn’t hold her back. She pushed forward. That helped me as a single mom to help my children and have them excel at anything.”
He was never flashy, even when reggaeton exploded into the mainstream circa 2005 with Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina.” While Yankee, Don Omar, and Wisin y Yandel were basking in the spotlight, Tego Calderon stayed in the background, experimenting with a sound that was never solely reggaeton or rap. It was poetry, informed by the rhythms and circumstances of his island.
Calderon’s sense of responsibility to make music with a message was handed down. From his late father Esteban, he inherited an appreciation for the older, socially conscious salseros like Ismael Rivera, who exposed racism in Puerto Rican society. Since the early days, when he released 2004’s El Enemy de los Guasibiri up until his most recent work like “Robin Hood,” off his latest album, The Original Gallo del Pais, Calderon has tackled topics like corruption and inequality. And as Puerto Rico continues to grapple with issues like skyrocketing crime, Calderon continues to stay true to that urban vigilante persona.
At 40, Calderon continues to perform for loyal fans all throughout Latin America, dabbles in acting (Illegal Tender, Fast Five), and commands the respect of his peers and the music industry as a whole. The Original Gallo del Pais was nominated for a 2012 Latin Grammy in the Best Urban Album category (the award went to Don Omar).
A recent phone conversation while he was promoting his latest album reveals that these days, Calderon seems content with his life and fulfilled as an artist and a family man. Whether people buy his music or not almost doesn’t matter, because on any given day, you’ll find Tego Calderon in “El Sitio,” his home and recording studio in Santurce, P.R. – doing what he does best.
There are great performers, and then there are game-changers. Jenni Rivera, who died at age 43 in a plane crash outside of Monterrey, Mexico early Sunday morning, was that rare breed of artist who will be remembered not only for her success, but for all the rules she re-wrote.
As the undisputed queen of banda music, her professional achievements within a male-dominated genre run deep – among her many feats, La Diva de la Banda sold some 1.2 million albums in the United States alone and sold out arenas like the Staples Center in Los Angeles, something no other female regional Mexican artist had done before. But make no mistake: nothing was ever handed to this woman.
Rivera was born in Long Beach, California on July 2, 1969, one of six siblings. The daughter of bartender-turned-music mogul Pedro Rivera, who launched his own record label, Cintas Acuario, in 1987 to produce the music of narcocorrido legend Chalino Sanchez, among others, and launch the career of his own son Lupillo, Jenni was a straight A student in high school. When she got pregnant with her first child as a sophomore, instead of dropping out, she earned her GED at a continuation school in 1987 – as the class valedictorian, no less – before going on to earn a college business degree in 1991.
What happens in Vegas…well, you know the rest. While in town for the Latin Grammys this week, artists were celebrating their nominations and wins up and down the Strip. One of them, Sensato, was in Vegas on double duty: to perform his monster club hit “Crazy People” with Pitbull during the show, the same song that was nominated in the Best Urban Song category.
If you’ve heard the song – and unless you live under a rock, you have – then you know this 27-year-old Dominican rapper with the hyper, caricature-like flow knows a thing or two about having a good time. So I took him tequila tasting earlier in the week to the hottest new resto on the Strip, Javier’s, which has a vast selection of the agave-based drink.
Sensato, who is signed to Pitbull’s label Mr. 305 Inc., has a bright future ahead of him beyond the Latin Grammy nod (the award went to Don Omar for “Hasta Que Salga El Sol”). His new, Pitbull-assisted single “La Confesion,” which namedrops J.Lo, Sofia Vegara, Eva Longoria, Selena Gomez, Shakira, and other hot Latinas is out now, and the two bad boys are working on a full joint album, due some time next year.
Watch here as we learn a thing or two about “fine” tequila and talk about what it means to be Pitbull’s protege. Sensato played it coy when we asked for crazy stories while on tour with Pit, but we can only imagine what that’s like…
Also, check out what Sensato and other celebs told us on the Latin Grammy green carpet about their End of the World playlists, because if we’re going down this year, we’re making it count with some good company, good music, and, why not a nice adult beverage?
Latin Grammys are just as much about the music as they are about the fashion, so we snuck into one of our favorite band’s room to see which looks they’re going to be rocking this week in Las Vegas.
Colombian hip-hop group ChocQuibTown, beloved at home in Choco and all around Latin America, is nominated in three categories this year – Album of the Year (Eso Es Lo Que Hay), Record of the Year (“Calentura,” featuring Tego Calderon and Zully Murillo), and Best Alternative Music Album.
But they’re not exactly new at this Latin Grammy thing. In 2009, they were up for Best New Artist, and they won Best Alternative Song in 2010 for “De Donde Vengo Yo.”
The band’s Colombian pride manifests itself strongly in the fashion choices of its lead singer Gloria Martinez (a.k.a. Goyo), as we were able to see firsthand during our visit to her hotel room in Vegas. “It’s really important for me to support local designers,” Goyo told me yesterday, right before our Twitcam with the group. If you missed it, check out the full, unedited video here.
The trio of Goyo, her brother Slow, and her hubby Tostao, had so much fun answering fan questions on Twitter, and shared everything from their favorite foods to their dreams of a possible collaboration with Calle 13, and even breaking into an awesome acapella of “Hasta El Techo” (fast foward to minute 14:00 of the Twitcam video)!
But first, I got an exclusive look at Goyo’s wardrobe for the rest of the week. She makes the best dressed list in my book for all of her originality and support of local designers.
Check out the pics on Fusion (ABC/Univision), where this story was originally published.
By Becky G, as told to Angie Romero
Just like the strong, powerful women I’ve grown up watching and loving – Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez – I’ve always known that this is about more than just the music. I want to create a movement. I was really young when I started thinking that way, like 12, 13, which is kind of weird, cause I’m still young. But at that time, I already had ideas for a fashion line.
At the time, I started talking to people on Twitter, getting what I thought was a cool fan base of like 2,000 followers, and then it got to 5,000, and that’s how the little Beaster movement began. Then the Cody Simpson stuff started happening and the Cher Lloyd song “Oath” came out and now I’m at 60,000 followers, which is a pretty big number compared to what I started out with.
The way I came up with Beasters as a nickname for my fans is because people call me B for short. I feel like a little beast when I’m onstage, and I feel like my fans have that little beast inside of them, too, this hunger for life. It’s also an expression, like “That’s beast-mode!” so I thought it was a cool name for the whole movement.
Read the rest of this blog post on Fusion (ABC/Univision), where it was originally posted.