There’s a whole other side to the story of Shakira’s success

Today, musicians and songwriters from Latin America like Shakira and Pitbull have entered the pantheon of the most successful artists in the world. But it wasn’t always like this. Historically, the origin of famous…

There’s a whole other side to the story of Shakira’s success

Today, musicians and songwriters from Latin America like Shakira and Pitbull have entered the pantheon of the most successful artists in the world.

But it wasn’t always like this. Historically, the origin of famous musicians — of both sexes — in Latin America varied.

A version of American Gangster, starring Denzel Washington and Cuba Gooding Jr. was banned in the birthplace of popular music.

In the 1940s, Shakira started as a professional dancer in Colombia. She later won an international singing competition. In 2009, she was named Latin Grammy Person of the Year and, in 2014, she received Billboard’s female artist of the year award.

Cuba Gooding Jr. was once a songwriter in Cuba before he embarked on a career in acting.

“It wasn’t until I came to this country in the late 1980s that I realized I was the child of a world that doesn’t acknowledge that I existed,” he told The New York Times in 2015. He joked that fans in Cuba used to think he was acting when he appeared in movies there and asked why he was like his famous character “Monk.” He said he didn’t think in those terms but eventually he realized he was playing a character in his hometown — from Cuban to American culture.

Jorge Drexler, one of the top modern-day producers of Latin music, recently released The Ota Jackson Stories, in which he covers some of the country’s best-known songs and puts his own spin on them. His version of “Quién a Marte” by Luis Santana, for example, is written in Spanish, then mixed with a English message: “Finally, be mindful of who you embrace from afar/Let your heart be pure, let your soul be free.”

Mr. Drexler also covers Sarah Brightman’s song “If I Were You” in the fashion of British pop singer Adele, using a broken-voice sample. This contrast, along with other Mexican and English references, is unusual for a Mexican-language record.

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