Latinos have greatly impacted the music industry thanks to our raw talent, diverse influences, and immense creativity. In honor of the 2013 Grammy Awards on Sunday, we are honoring the best Latino singers and pop artists of all time! Find out who made the cut below!
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She graduated from the teen pop era, and blasted into the pop scene with full force. The Grammy-winning sensation mesmerized audiences at an early age with her heavy vocals and instant star power. A few years later, she proved she was a crossover pop diva with her hit Spanish album, Mi Reflejo. For her fourth album, Stripped, Christina got a little “Dirrty” and expressed her sexuality with full force. After three more studio albums, Back to Basics, Bionic, and Lotus, Aguilera has continued to prove that she’s one of the best voices of our generation.
Texas born Tejano singer, Selena Quintanilla was groomed for stardom at the tender age of nine after her father Abraham Quintanilla launched the family band Selena y Los Dinos. Selena’s powerful voice and natural stage presence landed her a record deal in 1989. Four years later, the legendary singer’s album “Selena Live!” won a Grammy for “Best Mexican Album.” Her fifth studio album Amor Prohibido garnered commercial success and produced four hit songs including “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” and “Como La Flor.” The Queen of Tejano music graced the stage for over 60,000 fans at Houston’s Astrodome in 1995.
That same year, former assistant Yolanda Saldivar tragically murdered Selena. A musical icon before her death, there’s no doubt that Selena had so much more to offer the world of music. In an interview related to her volunteer efforts for education Selena said, “If you have a dream, don’t let anyone take it away and always believe that the impossible is possible.” Her last album, “Dreaming of You” sold over three million copies.
Esperanza Spalding, 28
The singer and jazz bassist leaves us transfixed whenever she takes the stage. Earlier this year, she performed Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" during the In Memoriam tribute at the Academy Awards, which left the rest of America amazed and in love. She has won a total of three Grammys so far and is currently nominated for another three including “Best Jazz Vocal Album” for the upcoming 2013 Grammy Awards.
You can call her the original triple-threat. The Puerto Rican singer, dancer, and actress broke into Hollywood in the 1960’s with the critically acclaimed musical, West Side Story. After decades in the business, she’s one of the only stars to have an Emmy, Tony, Oscar, and Grammy (for The Electric Company soundtrack) to call her own.
For nearly six decades, Celia Cruz’s profoundly soulful voice and colorful presence revolutionized salsa and transformed her into a musical legend. The Cuban singer taught us that ‘life is a carnival’ (in one of her many hits “La Vida Es Un Carnaval”) and its rhythmic course should be danced to. Cruz’s powerful vocals were often featured alongside infectious piano cords and conga beats, and won her countless of accolades including three Grammys, four Latin Grammys, and twenty-three gold albums. The Queen of Salsa may have lost her battle against cancer in 2003, but her strong melodies and signature saying, “¡Azúcar!” will never be forgotten.
Blessed with a soft, but powerful angelic voice, Marc Anthony managed to go from the New York underground scene to international stardom in just a few years. The 43-year-old singer from the Bronx sings lyrics that embody the meaning of romance and all of its well-rounded failures and triumphs. He has won two Grammys, three Latin Grammys, and sold over 12 million copies worldwide. Nothing says I’ve-reached-icon-status more than his album “Iconos,” which features covers of all of ‘the greats’ including Juan Gabriel and José José. Whether it’s a simple ballad or an upbeat song, Anthony will always keep us earning for more.
Juan Luis Guerra:
Living legend, Juan Luis Guerra has sold over 30 million records during his career. His lyrics are as romantic as Pablo Neruda’s poems and hit the heart in indescribable ways. The Dominican singer has a groundbreaking total of 12 Latin Grammys and two Grammys including “Best Tropical Album of the Year” for “La Llave de mi Corazón.” He definitely owns the key to our hearts!
Mariah Carey, 42
Known for her soprano vocals and diva attitude, Mariah has sold more than 200 million albums in the span of her 22-year career. The new American Idol judge has also won five Grammy Awards and a record breaking 31 Billboard Awards. In 2007, the half-Venezuelan pop star was named the fifth richest woman in entertainment with an estimated worth of $270 million. We are sure that number has only multiplied!
The Mexican singer’s strong presence on stage and brilliant voice soon had fans calling him, “El Sol.” Starting his career in the 1980s, Miguel soon made history as one of the first Latino singers to have an English and Spanish album go platinum for, Romance and Segundo Romance. Over the years, he has produced over 30 albums and won a total of five Grammys. That’s something to sing about…
Hail to the Queen of Latin Pop! The legendary singer is known for her energetic performances and heart-hitting lyrics. With over 32 million albums sold in the U.S. alone, Gloria’s Miami Sound Machine days helped carve the way for many Latin pop stars to date. Estefan’s hit album, Mi Tierra, which paid homage to her Cuban roots, won the Grammy Award for “Best Tropical Latin Album” in 1993. She has won 3 Grammys and 4 Latin Grammys throughout the years, and we love her for it!
Besides proving that her “Hips Don’t Lie,” Shakira has become one of Latin pop’s biggest female crossover stars thanks to her unique hybrid of pop, rock, and Middle Eastern influences. The Colombian singer has won a total of seven Latin Grammys and two Grammys including “Best Latin Pop Album of the Year” for her “Shakira: MTV Unplugged” album. Forbes may have deemed the “Waka Waka” singer the fourth top-earning female musician in history, but the generous 35-year-old is known for giving back to her community through her foundation Pies Descalzos. In 2011, Shakira was added to The Hollywood Walk of Fame after selling an estimated 70 million albums worldwide. Now that’s something to sway your hips to!
Love her or hate her, Paulina Rubio can be considered the Britney Spears of the Spanish-pop world. Also known as La Chica Dorada, Rubio made her first musical debut in the popular 80’s kid’s band Timbiriche. Since her debut album “La Chica Dorada” in 1992, Rubio has proved that you can have an attitude and still be loved by millions. Her golden success was especially undeniable in her latest album “Gran City Pop,” which snagged a Grammy nomination for “Best Latin Pop Album” and landed the number one spot on Billboard’s “Hot Latin Songs.” She has sold over 30 million albums worldwide. We have a feeling her career is going to keep shining bright for years to come.
Throughout the years, Jennifer Lopez has made her transition from fly girl to actress, and singing sensation look so seamless. The “Do It Well” singer may get criticized by some for her lack of singing ability, but the Boricua pop star from the Bronx has always let her chart-topping success do all of the talking. While her debut single “If You Had My Love” helped put her on the map, her second studio album “J.Lo” sold 8 million copies and hit number one on Billboard Hot 200. Her musical evolution has been tied to her high-profiled romances as much as her stylish looks, and we can’t wait for her latest album “Love?,” which is said to be inspired by her public split from husband Marc Anthony. Whether it’s for her vocals, dramatic lyrics, or her pop dance beats, we guarantee that everyone will stop to listen.
Everyone knew Ricky Martin was destined for greatness since his boy-band Menudo days. Fast forward over a decade later, and the Puerto Rican pop star was “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and swaying his hips for the world to see. His self-titled English album sold over 22 million copies and brought him global success. The world hasn’t stopped talking about Ricky Martin since! He earned his spot on The Hollywood Walk of Fame and continues impressing fans with his latest album “Música + Alma + Sexo.” Now the multifaceted star is giving Broadway a spin while performing in the classic “Evita.” Viva Ricky Martin!
Romeo Santos, 31
The Bronx native has tapped into the ultimate formula for chart-topping success in his debut album “Formula, Vol. 1,” which features addictive bachata hooks and lyrics that leave you hooked on his every word. Aventura’s former front man has proved that he is The King of Kings thanks to his multiple wins at the Latin Grammys and Latin Billboard Awards. He is also currently nominated for a 2013 Grammy for “Best Tropical Album of the Year.”
The Mexican singer started honing her performing skills at the tender age of 9 before joining the popular 1980’s group, Timbiriche. Since then, she has reportedly sold over 40 million albums worldwide and is considered one of the best-selling Latin musicians of all time. She also as a Hollywood Walk of Fame star to prove it!
Kat De Luna
Hailing from New York, this Dominicana perfected her impressive soprano range at the New Jersey School of the Performing Arts. The petite opera-trained artist is known for the chart-topping success of the dance hall track, “Whine Up.” Five years after her debut, De Luna is slated to release her new album, Viva Out Loud, later this year.
Known as the lead singer of La Quinta Estación, Jimenez’s signature voice and eclectic style quickly led to a successful solo career. In 2009, the Spanish singer dominated the charts with her collaboration with Marc Anthony for the romantic song, “Recuérdame.” She also delivered a memorable Latin Grammy performance with Ricky Martin for his single, “Lo Mejor De Mi Vida Eres Tú.” Last year, she also walked away with a Premio Lo Nuestro award for “Breakout Artist of the Year.”
This Grammy-winning opera singer is world-renowned thanks to her 30-year experience on stage. Known for her flawless soprano range, the 79-year-old Spanish lead has performed over 80 roles in her lifetime. Talk about impressive!
Who doesn’t love the Colombian roquero? After his debut album in 2000, Fijate Bien, won him a Grammy Award for “Best New Artist,” the pop star has dominated the charts and recruited millions of fans worldwide. After several hit albums, Juanes maintained his global domination by topping the universal charts with his single, “Me Enamora,” which hit number one in 14 countries. Thankfully, his commercial success isn’t over yet.
This Spanish singer is the original Don. Known for his romantic ballads and elegant demeanor, Julio has been serenading fans since the 1970’s. He has sold an impressive 250 million albums worldwide and released over 80 records to date. His son, Enrique Iglesias, definitely had an amazing role model!
It’s Valentine’s Day everyday in José José’s world. His jazz background helped him develop a light lyric tenor vocal range in his romantic ballads, which led to his immense popularity starting in the 1970’s. The Mexican singer is now known as one of the most influential icons in Latin music history. A few years ago, he was awarded a star on the coveted Hollywood Walk of Fame.
A typical family party soundtrack always includes this pioneer of Latin American music. The Puerto Rican prodigy started playing the trumpet at the age of 12, and later also learned how to play the trombone. Hailing from the Bronx, Colon was responsible for adding a New York-sound to traditional salsa music. He obtained a musical fellowship from Yale University and eventually lent his musical talent to the Fania All Stars group, which included, Héctor Lavoe, Rubén Blades, and Celia Cruz. In 2004, he was honored at the Grammys with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
La Diva de la Banda captivated audiences with songs about personal triumph, love, betrayal, and perseverance. Her life may have been cut short, but her legacy will live on in her music. Her tenth studio album, Jenni quickly climbed to the number one spot on the charts back in 2008. Since then she has sold over 50 million albums worldwide. Her latest album, La Misma Gran Señora, which was released just two days after her passing, made it to the number one position on the Latin Billboard charts. Later this year, the Rivera family plans on releasing her English-language pop album in her honor.
The bilingual bachatero stole our hearts when he first hit the charts with his self-titled album in 2010. Since then the Dominican singer from the Bronx has ruled the charts with his sophomore album, Phase II, which produced hits including, “Incondicional.” Earlier this year, Royce took home eight awards and beat the King of Bachata, Romeo Santos, in the “Album of the Year” category for his self-titled album. We can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us!
The Mexican singer and songwriter made her mark in the Latin alternative scene in the early 1990s. By 2003, she developed her sound and took more of a pop/rock direction for her third album, Si. Julieta’s musical abilities are as impressive as her hit songs. She’s known for writing and singing her own songs, as well as playing various instruments including the guitar, accordion, and keyboard. Talk about multi-faceted!
The Spanish heavy-hitter is known for his airy voice and creating hits out of playful hybrids of various genres including, flamenco, hip-hop, tropical, pop, and rock. After ten studio albums, he has won fifteen Latin Grammy Awards and three Grammy Awards. He also broke records after winning the Latin Grammy Award for “Album of the Year” three times.
The late Argentinean singer began her singing career at the age of 15 and was soon named “the voice of the silent majority” thanks to her strong dedication to charity work and producing meaningful tracks with a proactive message. She was responsible for the “nueva canción” movement in the 1960’s, which was soon ceased by Chilean President Salvador Allende. She was later arrested for her political activism, but she continued to spread her message through her music. Besides winning several Grammys, she was also an ambassador for UNICEF.
The veteran singer was known for her beautifully tender voice and canciones rancheras. The Mexican singer started singing at the age of 30 and soon toured throughout Latin America. The Costa Rican-born artist was honored with the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. She passed away due to heart and respiratory issues five years later.
This Brazilian singer and musician is Timeless. The Grammy Award-winning artist has produced over thirty-five albums, and is known for his unique bossa nova sound, which is heavily influenced by funk, hip-hop, and jazz.
The Colombian artist was gone too soon. She passed away from breast cancer in 2006, but made sure to leave a lasting impression in Latin music. In 2004, her self-titled album won a Latin Grammy Award for “Best Album by a Songwriter.” A year later, she won another award for “Best Female Pop Vocal Album” for El Otro Lado de Mí. Her legacy will live on in her music.
The Cuban singer-songwriter is known as one of the founders of the nuevo trova style of music. He produced classics inspired by Cuban and Brazilian beats including, “Para Vivir” and “Yo amo esta isla.”
Marco Antonio Solis
From his days in Los Bukis or solo career, there’s no denying that this Mexican singer has immeasurable raw talent and star power. He has been romancing fans since the 1990’s and plans to continue his serenades with his new album, Gracias Por Estar Aqui. Since claiming his domination, he has sold over 50 million albums worldwide and produced more than 300 tracks. Pretty impressive!
The Cuban Broadway star knows how to dominate a live stage and owns it! The Tony Award-winning performer is best known for her role as Abuela Claudia in Lin Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway Show, In The Heights. However, the talented Latina also has a long roster of credits including, Mamma Mia!, Reckless, and Les Misérables.
Christina Aguilera isn’t the only blonde petite powerhouse! This Mexican singer’s strong vocals are featured in ranchera-style songs that hit straight to the heart. Starting her music career as the lead singer in the band Grupo Limite, Alicia eventually parted ways from her band members and jumpstarted a solo career, which led to her winning a Latin Grammy. Because of her hard work, she is now dubbed as La Jefe of Regional Mexican music.
She may be known as Dr. Callie Torres in the ABC series, Grey’s Anatomy, but this Irish and Mexican American actress can sing! Back in 2005, the Juilliard alumni mesmerized audiences as the Lady of the Lake in the hit Broadway musical, Spamalot. She snagged a Tony Award for “Best Featured Actress in a Musical.”
The trained dancer, singer, and actress is a triple-threat worth keeping your eyes on. The Mexican-born star has starred in several musicals including, Rent, The Phantom of the Opera, and Chicago. She is best known for her Broadway performance as the sassy and cunning Roxie Hart in Chicago.
Juan Diego Florez
The talented Peruvian tenor is known as one of the best opera singer’s hailing from his native country. His robust vocal power was developed at a young age when he received a scholarship to The Curtis Institute in the 1990’s. One of his mentors was Ernesto Palacio, also a famous Peruvian opera singer. Looks like he took good notes!
The Puerto Rican singer is classified as one of the greats and paved the way for singers like Marc Anthony. His powerful vocals filled with melancholic soul drew a lot of inspiration from his personal struggles and battle with drugs. Despite his tragic ending, the singer was part of the Fania All Stars, which also included Celia Cruz, and is known as one of the most prominent salsa singers of his time.
Let’s face it – Santana is undeniably one of the great guitarists of all time. The Mexican musician learned to play the guitar at the age of eight and has rocked it ever since. In 2000, he snagged eight Grammys including, “Record of the Year” and “Best Rock Album” for the hit album “Supernatural.” The rock legend managed to tie the record with Michael Jackson for the most Grammys won by a single performer for that year. No one does it better than Santana!
Los Tigres del Norte
Norteño bands have come and went, but Los Tigres have remained in the spotlight since the 1960’s. A staple within the regional Mexican genre, the band has won five Latin Grammys and sold over 32 million albums over the years. The five-person group also advocates for immigration rights and joined the national boycott against Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, which denies illegal immigrants basic human rights. Los Tigres del Norte will always be a force to be reckoned with.
Gilberto Santa Rosa
No one sings boleros like Gilberto! The Puerto Rican singer was part of the Puerto Rican All Stars back in the 1980’s. Once he went solo, he produced hits including, “Vivir Sin Ella” and “Punto de Vista.” Since 2010, he also held the record for having the most number one hits on the Billboard Latin charts.
Over the years, the 64-year-old singer and composer has earned his title as an icon on the Latin jazz genre. His love for his roots also shined through when he wrote, “Patria,” which is considered the second national anthem for many Panamanians. He has produced over 40 albums since the 1970’s and continues to be a major influence in Latin music to date.
When your nickname is “El Diablo de la Salsa,” you know you did something right! The Venezuelan singer is known for belting out emotional lyrics for hits like, "Llorarás," which he recorded in 1975 and is still an all-time favorite for many Latin music lovers.
The Puerto Rican-born singer who later immigrated to the Bronx, has a mind-blowing vocal range that is identifiable the instant she’s on the airwaves. From freestyle to reggaeton, La India has covered it all, but the genre that has brought her the most success is salsa. So much so the legendary Celia Cruz named her the “Princess of Salsa.”
The 45-year-old singer is a pro at getting the party started! Olga is known to her fans as “The Woman on Fire,” a name that was given way before Alicia Keys came up with the song title. The Puerto Rican singer known for hits like, “Una Nueva Mujer” and “Asi Es La Vida,” has earned two Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards in the span of her career.
The Dominican singer has produced over 20 albums since the 1970’s, and he hasn’t showed signs of stopping! The talented artist plays the flute, guitar, and trumpet on top of composing and producing his own merengue music. In 1990, he was nominated for a Grammy for “Best Tropical Latin Performance.”
Las Chicas del Can
Who can forget this all-female merengue group? Las Chicas del Can jumped on the scene in the early 1980’s and quickly earned a large fanbase for their catchy songs and dance moves. Although the band had several members throughout the years, the most success set included, Míriam Cruz, Eunice Betances, Theresa Domínguez, and Veronica Medina.
Whether she’s performing ballads, pop songs, or Regional Mexican classics, this Mexican beauty always delivers. Going by Lucerito when she was younger, she established herself as a pop star with major vocal ability at a young age. She has recorded hits in Spanish, Portuguese, and English, and has sold over 27 million albums worldwide.
No one made us want to mambo more than the late Tito. The Harlem-born Puerto Rican musician was nicknamed the King of Timbales for his outstanding longevity behind the drums and his energetic aura onstage. The musical prodigy perfected his masterful skills at Julliard School of Music and was known for his fusion of Afro-Caribbean beats and jazz rhythms. During his career that spanned over 50 years, Puente won six Grammy Awards for his albums including “Best Latin Performance” for “Mambo Diablo” and “On Broadway.” He won the Grammy Lifetime Achievement a few years after his tragic death in 2000.