Culture

11 Songs Latinos Play During Christmas Day

Christmas is a holiday that is celebrated in a multitude of ways throughout the world.  It is invaluable to keep traditions alive in all cultures.  While many Latino cultures celebrate the holidays in unique manners, they all carry the same message.  And, what could be more important in sharing those values than sharing in some great holiday music.

While there are some classic Spanish numbers that have become a necessity for anyone’s playlist, we decided it would be great to have a list of songs that can help you spread the Christmas cheer this winter.  So cozy up with the family, and get in the spirit of the season with these classics.

La Sonora Matancera w/ Celia Cruz – “Campanas de Navidad”

Instagram @Christmas4you1

What’s it About –

This is a translated version of the all-time classic Jingle Bells.  Originally written in English in the 1800s, the theme is timeless.  There is a spirit of joy to the song that speaks on riding in a sleigh and listening to the bells ring through the snow.

What Makes it Great –

There are quite a number of translations for all sorts of Christmas carols.  However, this recording from a young Celia Cruz in 1958 has become a classic and adds a dancing feel to any Cuban Christmas.  One of the most popular holiday songs in the world deserved this peppy version.

Jenni Rivera – “Amarga Navidad”

Instagram @Christmas4you1

What’s it About –

While it may not be as upbeat as most Christmas songs, Amarga Navidad is still a classic in its own right.  The theme is about a woman who is asking her partner to leave on Christmas Eve.  Though it may sound depressing, there is the idea of getting ready for a new year with a better life.

What Makes it Great –

Christmas can bring up many emotions, and Jenni Rivera’s bitter holiday ballad isn’t afraid to touch on some of the more difficult feelings.  Breaking the seasonal blues can be tough so a song that hits as hard as this can be therapeutic.

Luis Aguile – “Ven a Mi Casa Esta Navidad”

Instagram @Christmas4you1

What’s it About –

Ven a mi casa Esta Navidad translates to English as “Come to my house this Christmas”.  The song does not speak to any one person in particular but is more of an open message that nobody should be alone on the holidays.  It is about opening your doors to anybody that could use a little company and a friend.

What Makes it Great –

Luis Aguile was more than just a singer and songwriter, he helped to define Latino culture for many of those in Central and Southern America.  Ven a Mi Casa Esta Navidad has become an anthem for the holidays and has been re-recorded by many popular artists throughout the years.

Juanes – “Mi Burrito Sabenero”

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What’s it About –

Burritos may be a standard staple in Mexican cuisine, however, that is not what this song is about.  Burrito actually means ‘little donkey’ and the lyrics are about a rider encouraging his donkey to make it to Bethlehem as fast as he can.

What Makes it Great –

The song has a few different titles and has been a staple for many generations in Latino culture.  However, the recording that Juanes performed in 2006 has quickly become one of the most popular.  There shouldn’t be any Latino Christmas playlist without this poppy rendition.

Felix Del Rosario – “Alegre Vengo”

Instagram @Christmas4you1

What’s it About –

Alegre Vengo, or Happy to Come, is a traditional Puerto Rican Christmas carol.  In Puerto Rica, Christmas Eve is a big party and everyone rejoices in the holiday together.  So, this song is about the joy of bringing everyone together and the fun that it brings.

What Makes it Great –

Any song that has stood the test of time as this one has deserves to be recognized as a classic.  The recording that Felix Del Rosario made in the ’90s helped to bring the traditional song into a modern age and has been a winter anthem since.

Los Toribianitos – “Canta, Rie, Bebe”

Instagram @Christmas4you1

What’s It About –

Singing, laughing, and drinking.  This song is all about Christmas Eve when everybody should be having a great time.  And, what could be better for any Latino family than singing, laughing and drinking.

What Makes it Great –

This song has been an essential Christmas song in Spain for a long time.  It is these types of traditions that need to be cherished in an ever-changing society.  Being performed by a choir brings back the sense of community and spirit that this song is all about.

Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe – “La Murga”

Instagram @Christmas4you1

What’s It About –

At first, La Murga may not seem like a Christmas song, which is because it is more connected with Carnival, which is still a part of the festive season.  This song is still a great salsa anthem all year round even for being almost 50 years old.

What Makes it Great –

Nobody will argue that La Murga has one of the greatest trombone openings of any song ever.  If you want a Latin song that you can dance to these holidays than look no further.  This is a classic that is still a solid jam for any playlist.

Pandora – “Los Peces en el Rio”

Instagram @Christmas4you1

What’s It About –

Los Peces en el Rio is another traditional Spanish holiday carol.  This one is pretty heavy on the religious end, but if that is your thing then this is an important song that will probably take you back to childhood.

What Makes it Great –

If you want to make a traditional song even better, you let a pop band trio like Pandora make their own rendition.  The ’80s were a wild time for all music, but this Christmas song has stood the test of time.

Andrea Boccelli – “Navidad Blanca”

Instagram @Christmas4you1

What’s it About –

Another traditionally English Christmas song, White Christmas was written by Bing Crosby in the 1950s.  It is about the purity and warmth of the holidays and spending it with the people that mean the most to you.

What Makes it Great –

Andrea Boccelli is famous for having a voice that could make any song great.  For him to take a classic song such as this and add his own flare was destined to be memorable.  If you want to feel that rich Christmas spirit then throw this song on.

Alejandro Sanz – “Noche de Luz”

Instagram @Christmas4you1

What’s It About –

Noche de Luz, or Night of Light, is all about that warmth that we all feel the night of Christmas Eve.  This soulful song adds a depth to the holiday season that can bring you in touch with all of those richest feelings.

What Makes it Great –

The Spanish pop star Alejandro Sanz really lets it out with this Christmas song.  Adding a flare of Flamenco and being supported by backup singers and an orchestra, this is a full, well-rounded song for the season of joy.

José Feliciano – “Feliz Navidad”

Instagram @Christmas4you1

What’s It About –

Pure Christmas happiness and well wishes.  This is the Latino Christmas song to end all Latino Christmas songs.

What Makes it Great –

Well, it may just be one of the greatest Christmas songs written in any language.  First performed in 1970, people are singing this song in all corners of the world every holiday season.

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Luis Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Luis Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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