Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias and Shakira are just some of the Latin artists that have successfully crossed over into the English language market, paving the way for the many musicians who dream of stardom on U.S. soil.
But the reverse has become increasingly popular, with singers switching to Spanish after hitting the big time. Check out some of the performers that have fine-tuned their voices in español—capturing a whole new legion of listeners in the process.
Just last August, the Wizards of Waverly Place star told Latina.com that she really wanted to learn Spanish, and now she’s in the midst of recording a whole album in the language. What a difference six months makes! Well, the half-Mexican 18-year-old has already proven that she’s got what it takes by converting her hit song “A Year Without Rain” into “Un Año Sin Lluvia.” Needless to say, we’re ready for more.
As part of his quest for world domination, Cuban-American rapper Armando Christian Pérez, aka Pitbull, put out the eponymous record Armando late last year. Dedicated to his late father, whose name he shares, the disc wasn’t such a stretch for the Miami resident. “I grew up with both languages and to me they both feel natural, and I love performing both of them,” he told Latina.com. The seamless production includes club anthems “Mujeres” and “Bon Bon.”
The Canadian-Portuguese artist credits Cuban crooner Alex Cuba as the catalyst for her 2009 Spanish-language debut, Mi Plan. The story goes that he stopped by the studio when she was recording a song called “My Plan” and suggested she pepper it with Spanish phrases. In the end, she recorded the title track with Cuba, and also joined forces with Julieta Venegas and La Mala Rodriguez for “Bajo Otra Luz” and Alejandro Fernández for “Sueños.” The Recording Academy approved by giving her a 2010 Latin Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Album.
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Beyoncé took Spanish classes in school. So it was only a matter of time before she polished off those skills by knocking out some tunes. Released in 2007, B’day Deluxe Edition featured three different versions of her “Beautiful Liar” collabo with Shakira and a cover of the telenovela theme song “Amor Gitano” with Alejandro Fernández.” The album got her on the cover of People En Español’s “Los 50 Más Bellos” issue as an “honorary beauty.”
The American Idol judge married fellow-Boricua Marc Anthony in 2004, and three years later put out Como Ama una Mujer, a ballad-heavy record that counts her hubby as one of the producers. But if you think back, that wasn’t the first time she released a song in Spanish. Buried on her 1999 debut album, On the 6, are the songs “Una Noche Más” and the duet “No Me Ames” with—you guess it—Marc Anthony. Those two have some history together!
The half-Ecuadorean singer debuted in 1999 with a self-titled disc brimming with chart-toppers. A year later she got caught up in the so-called “Latin explosion” of the time by releasing Mi Reflejo, which included remakes (“Genio Atrapado”) and a couple of new recordings (“Falsas Esperanzas”). The result? Two Billboard Latin Music Awards and one Latin Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Album.