Found In Translation
The seeds of Latin music’s infectious sound were sown in South America, Mexico, Cuba and the Caribbean. Today’s hottest acts thrive on the legacy of pioneering artists––Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Carlos Santana, Reuben Blades and many more––who introduced a salsa-inflected genre in preceding decades.
The rise of Latin music in the eighties paralleled a significant increase in the Spanish-speaking population of the United States. The first major crossover act, The Miami Sound Machine, wowed English-speaking audiences with their hit single "Conga." Later lead singer Gloria Estefan, “The Queen of Latin Pop,” launched a blockbuster solo career. Still recording in Spanish and English, Estefan is major influence for emerging Latin vocalists.
Selena Quintanilla’s expressive voice and smoldering beauty cemented her legacy as an eighties icon before her untimely death in 1995. Her posthumously released masterwork, Dreaming of You, debuted at number one on the Billboard music charts in the US. She inspired another Latina superstar, Jennifer Lopez, who was unknown before she played the starring role in the movie Selena.
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Latin music blew up in the nineties with smash hits from today’s superstars including: “I Need to Know” by Marc Anthony, J Lo’s “Waiting for Tonight,” Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” and "Bailamos" from Enrique Iglesias These dynamic performers injected the genre with renewed excitement and glamour. Shakira, today’s pop sensation, is heir to these chart-topping talents. Her timeless voice and brilliant songwriting abilities have already garnered three Latin Grammy awards and career sales of over 25 million albums.
Latin pop is ever-evolving. The next wave is Reggaeton, a hybrid of Jamaican dance hall, hip-hop and salsa from Puerto Rico. With fast beats, throbbing percussion and bilingual rapping, Reggaeton is quickly crossing over to the urban music scene in the US. Notable performers in this new genre include: Tego Calderón, Queen Ivy, Don Chezina and Daddy Yankee.