In recent years, there has been a massive explosion in Latin music. As a result, Latin influences on mainstream music have grown immensely.
Be it Spanish, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Mexican, or any other Latin music tradition, the world simply can’t get enough of those intoxicating rhythms and the beautiful language.
So, I decided to take a look at some of the most famous Hispanic singers of all time. These folks hail from many different places, and they each have a particular style.
Top 9 Most Famous Hispanic Singers Of All Time
Antônio Carlos Jobim
Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim was born in Tijuca, Rio De Janeiro in 1927. Now, almost a hundred years after his birth, his music still echoes through the modern world. His compositions are taught as a standard for Jazz and Pop artists, no matter which instrument they play.
Jobim is one of the greatest Brazillian musicians…
He is often referred to as “The Father of Bossa Nova” and helped popularize this native genre. He later fused this Latin style with Jazz to create something unique.
The album Getz/Gilberto (1965) features some of Jobim’s earliest and most enduring work. It was the first Jazz record ever to win Album of the Year at the Grammys; it also won two others for performance and engineering. The album’s single “Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema)” is one of the most recorded Latin songs in history, with more than 240 renditions.
Amongst his many great works…
You’ll find a collaboration album with Frank Sinatra, Francis Albert Sinatra & Antônio Carlos Jobim. It was nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammys.
Jobim is not only one of the most important Hispanic singers ever, but one of the most important composers of the century.
Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio was born in Vega, Baja in 1994. He began making versions of songs when he was fourteen, and in 2013 he started publishing his music online.
In 2017, he collaborated with Karol G on the hit “Ahora Me Llama,” which made it to #10 on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart.
Less than a year later…
Bad Bunny managed to get his first #1 when he featured on the remix of Puerto Rican rappers Nio García, Darell, and Casper Mágico’s song “Te Boté.” The “Te Boté Remix” feating Bad Bunny, Ozuna, and Nicky Jam has over 2.2 billion views on YouTube, making it one of the most viewed videos ever.
2018 wasn’t finished yet. That’s because Bad Bunny, along with J Balvin, collaborated with Cardi B on her chart-topping track “I Like It.” The song became Bunny’s first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the music video has more than a billion views on YouTube.
Later that year, he got his first Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 as a lead artist when he dropped “Mía” featuring Drake. The track made it to #5 and helped his debut album X100 Pre become Diamond-certified in the US.
José Álvaro Osorio Balvín was born in Medelin in 1985. These days he’s known for his Reggaeton, Trap, Rap, and Hip-Hop sound.
But he started listening to hardcore rockers like Nirvana and Metallica. He’s even got a Nirvana tattoo on his knee. And, if you look at his style as a person and in his music, you can still see those influences.
He got his big break with the single “6 AM”. This double-diamond-selling single helped expose him to the world and shed light on his multi-Platinum album La Familia.
The album would later be re-issued with a few new tracks added, including the monster hit “Ay Vamos,” which has around 1.8 billion views on YouTube and earned him a Latin Grammy. A remix of the track was featured in the film Furious 7.
The next year he dropped the multi-diamond lead single, “Gizina,” for his next record Energia. The album produced three more Top 10 hits, “Bobo,” “Safari,” and “Sigo Extranandote.”
In June of 2017, things were kicked into high gear…
Balvin dropped “Mi Gente” featuring Willy William. The track became an instant hit and was soon the #1 song in the world according to Spotify’s Top 50. A few months later, the track was remixed with megastar Beyonce. The “Mi Gente Remix” gave Balvin his first Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
Balvin has sold more than 30 million records worldwide and has been streamed more than 40 billion times. In other words, easily one of the most popular Hispanic singers ever.
Juan Luis Guerra
Juan Luis Guerra Seijas was born in Santo Domingo in 1957. He studied philosophy, literature, and, finally, music. In 1982, he graduated from Berkley with a diploma in Jazz Composition.
He started playing and recording with local musicians, who eventually started calling themselves 440. Their first album, Soplando, came two years later. In 1985 and 1987, 440 recorded the albums Mudanza y Acarreo and Mientras Más Lo Pienso…Tú, respectively.
It was on the third attempt that things started taking off…
1988’s Ojalá Que Llueva Café was a chart-topper in many Latin countries. As a result, it introduced Guerra to the world as a serious merengue singer.
440’s fourth album, Bachata Rosa, became a huge success and went on to win Guerra his first Grammy. Some of the highlights of the album are “Burbujas De Amor” and “Bachata Rosa.” Both are still among Guerra’s biggest hits.
His next few albums were a bit more challenging…
1992’s Areito contained the hit single “El Costo De La Vida,” which had a very anti-capitalist message. Guerra was showing that he would not shy away from making commentary on the double standards of living in American Countries.
Guerra has won 23 Latin Grammys, 3 Grammys, and a Billboard Music Award. He has sold more than 30 million records worldwide, making him one of the most famous Hispanic singers of all time.
José Rómulo Sosa Ortiz was born in Mexico City in 1948. He came from a musical family and was playing the guitar and singing serenades in his early teens. Soon thereafter, he moved to a bossa nova trio band where he played bass and double bass.
He rose to prominence in the 1980s with a string of successful albums, including Amor Amor, Romantico, Gracias, and the highly popular Mi Vida. The last one sold over 1.5 million copies in Latin America.
José became so well regarded that legendary singer Frank Sinatra offered to record with him. But, José was unable to oblige due to an exclusivity agreement with his label. He did pay a marvelous tribute to Sinatra by recording a beautiful Spanish version of “New York, New York.”
His rise to international prominence came in 1983…
That coincided with the release of Secretos. The album has received 22 Platinum and Gold certifications in various countries and has sold more than ten million copies worldwide.
He managed to make a pretty good living as an actor as well. For example, José starred in Gavilán o Paloma in 1985 and Buscando Una Sonrisa in 1975.
José is remembered dearly by his native Mexico and the Latin world at large. He is one of the most celebrated Hispanic singers of his time.
Julio José Iglesias de la Cueva was born in Madrid in 1943. As a young man, he attended University and studied law while playing professional football for a local club.
After a car accident, though, he was left unable to walk for two years. It was during this time that he was gifted a guitar by a nurse, and his musical talent was awakened.
His first album, Yo Canto, was a success in Spain. It spent fifteen weeks on the charts and peaked at #3. One of his first big hits was “Un Canto A Galicia.” The song was sung in Galician to honor his father, who hailed from the Galicia community in Spain.
He followed up with more successful singles and albums…
One of the most notable is 1974’s A Flor de Piel which contained the massive hit “Manuella” (sung in Portuguese).
Iglesias has a gift for music as well as languages. And this was made clear with his follow-up albums, El Amor and Soy. He sings in Spanish, Portuguese, and even French as if he’d spoken these languages from childhood.
He moved to the US in 1975 and began making more music…
Furthermore, he expanded his linguistic repertoire to include Italian and German. In 1981, he released the multi-lingual and multi-platinum De Niña a Mujer. The album contained his first English language hit, “Begin The Beguine.”
Julio established himself as a serious international artist in 1984 with the release of 1100 Bel Air Place. The record sold three million copies in the US alone. Thanks in no small part to the hit single “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before,” which features songwriting legend Willy Nelson.
Iglesias has released over twenty studio albums, has sung in fourteen languages, and has sold a combined total of 100 million records worldwide. He is considered the most successful Hispanic singer in history.
Next, on my rundown of the Most Famous Hispanic Singers Of All Time, I deviate slightly to include one of the great guitar maestros and masters of feel-good music. Carlos Humberto Santana Barragán, was born in Jalisco, Mexico in 1947. He was taught the violin and guitar from an early age by his father, who was an accomplished Mariachi musician.
His family moved to San Fransisco, and it was here that he started playing in bar bands and honing his sound. In 1966, he formed what would become the band Santana with other street musicians he’d known.
The group quickly gained a following. This was because they played a very unique blend of Western Rock infused with Latin rhythms, Salsa, African sounds, and anything else they could throw in there.
The year it all changed…
In 1969, the group gave an incredible performance at Woodstock and dropped their studio debut, Santana. Of special note was the eleven-minute instrumental “Soul Sacrifice.” The song became an instant hit and remains one of their most beloved songs.
A year later, Santana got their first #1 album in the US with Abraxas. It contains two of their most enduring and famous tracks, “Oye Como Va” and a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Black Magic Woman.”
The follow-up album Santana III attained double-Platinum certification and produced the intoxicating instrumental “No One To Depend On.” Those albums helped make Santana one of the biggest Hispanic singers in the world.
Santana has released 25 studio albums, of which fourteen have reached the Top 10 in the US. And they have sold an estimated 100 million copies worldwide. In 2000, Santana tied with Michael Jackson for the most Grammys in one night by winning eight.
Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García, was born in Havanna in 1957. She joined the group Miami Sound Machine in 1975 as a part-time gig.
The group released several tracks and albums throughout the 80s…
Most notable was their 1984 album Eyes Of Innocence. It contained the massive dance hit “Dr. Beat” as well as a ballad, “I Need Your Love.”
A year later, they released the now iconic Primitive Love. That album went on to sell six million copies thanks to the three hit singles “Words Get In The Way,” “Bad Boy,” and “Conga.”
That same year, Miami Sound Machine released “Hot Summer Nights,” which featured in the soundtrack for the hit film Top Gun. In turn, she became one of the most well-known Hispanic singers at the time.
More success followed…
1987’s Let It Loose outperformed its predecessor. The album went triple-platinum and peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 200. The album’s singles include “Betcha Say That,” “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” “1-2-3”, and “Anything For You.”
In 1989, Gloria became a solo artist, and she released what has become her most successful album to date, Cuts Both Ways. The multi-platinum album contained some of her most iconic hits. Including “Oye Mi Canto,” “Don’t Wanna Lose You,” “Here We Are,” and “Cuts Both Ways.”
In March of 1990…
Gloria suffered a terrible car accident while touring. Her spine was fractured, and she had to endure excruciating rehabilitation therapy to recover.
Nonetheless, she recovered and, ten months later, was performing a new single, “Coming Out of The Dark,” from her concept album Into The Light, at the American Music Awards.
She released the Spanish album Mi Tierra. That album went on to become Diamond-certified in Spain and earned her a Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Album.
Estefan has recorded fifteen albums, which have spawned thirty-eight #1 Billboard Hits and sold more than 75 million copies worldwide.
Enrique “Ricky” Martín Morales, was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1971. He began appearing on TV at the age of nine and started with music at the age of twelve. He joined the Boy Band Meudo for a while and eventually broke out on his own in 1991 with his studio album Ricky Martin.
His first exposure to wider audiences came after he released A Medio Vivir in 1995. The single “Maria” was his first break-away from singling purely ballads, and the track became an international hit.
The follow-up album, Vuelve, became an even bigger success thanks to the popularity of tracks like “Vuelve” and “La Copa De La Vida.” In 1999, Martin performed at the 41st Grammy Awards, and his staggering performance is considered a breakthrough for Latin music worldwide.
His first English language album Ricky Martin was released to massive international success. The album’s lead single, “Livin La Vida Loca,” went on to become #1 in over twenty countries.
Now, it is considered not only one of the greatest Latin hits ever but one of the greatest Pop songs ever recorded.
Want More Great Spanish Language Songs and Singers?
If so, have a look at our detailed articles on the Best Merengue Songs, the Best Spanish Love Songs, the Best Spanish Songs of All Time, the Best Vicente Fernández Songs of All Time, as well as the Best Juan Gabriel Songs of All Time for more spectacular song selections.
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Most Famous Hispanic Singers Of All Time – Conclusion
Spanish is one of the greatest languages to sing. And, across history, there have been many great performers who’ve made use of its romantic and emotional power.
This list contains but a few of the many that there are in the world. And, no doubt, the future will produce many more great Hispanic singers and performers.
Until next time, happy listening.