THE 15 GREATEST LATINO SINGERS OF ALL TIME!
Music has the power to touch our souls the way no other form of art can. Latina.com honors the top Latino artists of all time! Find out who made the cut below!
For nearly six decades, Celia Cruz’ 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.
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.
No one made us want to mambo more than Tito Puente. 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. Puente bridged the gap between Latin music and the masses, and will always be remembered as the King of Mambo.
After countless of international hits, Daddy Yankee has paved the way for manyreggaetoneros throughout the years. The Puerto Rican star, which started his career in the underground scene, was one of the firsts to develop gritty Spanish-language free-style into commercial success. All of his albums including, “El Cangri.com” and “Barrio Fino” have garnered platinum-level status. Known for producing party anthems, El Boss’s latest single “Lovumba” off of his new album “Prestige” is currently number one on Billboard’s “Latin Pop Song” chart. El Cangri may have many contenders, but he continues to stand alone in his success.
Some may use generic terms like ‘icon’ to define Gloria Estafan’s booming music career, but we call her the pioneer of the pop Latin genre. From Miami Sound Machine to a Grammy-winning solo career, the Havana-born superstar has always stayed true to her rhythmic Cuban roots. Her third studio album, “Mi Tierra,” which features nostalgic ballads and upbeat dance tracks, was her first Spanish-language album and won the Grammy for “Best Tropical Album of the Year.” Over a decade later, Estefan’s latest album “Miss Little Havana,” produced by Pharrell Williams, has proven that she still has the magic touch with hit singles like “WEPA” and “Hotel Nacional,” which debuted number one on Billboard’s “Hot Latin Song” chart. This Cubana is here to stay!
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.
Los Tigres del Norte:
Norteño bands have come and went, but Los Tigres Del Norte has 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.
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 yearning for more.
Whether you have mended a broken heart or confessed a secret love affair, most likely Maná has served as your soundtrack at some point in your life. The Mexican pop-rock band has perfected the contrast of emotionally gripping lyrics with a hybrid sound of rock, reggae, and ska. As of last year, they have sold over 25 million albums worldwide and have four Grammys and seven Latin Grammys. Fans waited five years for the release of their latest album “Drama y Luz,” which debuted at number 5 on Billboard’s 200. We just can’t get enough of these roqueros!
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.
Carlos 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!
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!
The Puerto Rican singer is classified as one of the greats and paved the way for singers like Marc Anthony. Héctor Lavoe’s 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.
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!