Spain is a country with a rich history, a beautiful landscape, and a very special culture all its own. She’s had wars, plagues, kings, queens, tennis players, and even a pretty good Grand Prix driver too. Here is a country blessed with many great things. But, some would argue that it is with song and dance that she plants her deepest flags.
The years have given us a wealth of famous singers and songwriters from Spain. In recent years, the so-called “Latin Explosion” has teleported Spanish singers and performers into the worldwide consciousness like never before.
Spain’s soil has brought forth way too many gems for me to cover in one go. Instead, I’ll discuss just a handful of the most famous Spanish singers of all time.
15 Most Famous Spanish Singers Of All Time
Luis Miguel González Bosé was born in Panama City in 1956. His mother was an Italian actress, and his father was a Bullfighter from Spain.
Miguel was accustomed to arts and culture. His family’s social circle included folks like Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway. His godfather was famed Italian Neo-Realist filmmaker Luchino Visconti, whose work included seminal films like Senso, The Leopard, and Rocco and His Brothers.
In the early 70s, Miguel tried becoming an actor…
He managed to find work thanks to his good looks and flair for the camera. Although he wasn’t satisfied with the progress he was making, he still studied both acting and dancing. Eventually, he decided to try his luck at singing and managed to get Spanish singer and producer Camilo Sesto to help him out. They produced his first few singles, which led to Miguel getting signed within a year or two.
As a teenager, he enjoyed tremendous success not only in his native Spain but all across Latin America and parts of Southern Europe. He was releasing records and touring through the 70s until the early-80s when change came knocking.
In 1984, Miguel released Bandido…
The album marked the end of Bosé’s days as a teen idol and the birth of a new musical direction. The album was a success with both critics and fans alike. He followed up with more personal albums like Salamandra, XXX, and Los Chicos No Lloran.
In 1993, he released his first platinum album, Bajo El Signo De Cain. This saw him addressing more political issues, as well as historical content in modern contexts. He soon became an artist of international stature and renown.
In 2007, he celebrated his 30th year as a singer by inviting some of the greatest Spanish language singers in the world to record duet versions of some of his songs. The resulting album, Papito, features names like Shakira, Ricky Martin, Alejandro Sanz, and Juanes.
Antonio González Flores was born in Madrid in 1961. He came from one of the most prominent performing families in the country. His mother was the late great Lola Flores, and his sisters were also singers and performers.
Antonio’s story is a short and tragic one…
But his voice and composing talent will live on forever. He released his first album in 1980. Unfortunately, it was a commercial failure, as were his next two albums. However, in 1995, he released Cosas Mías. That album brought him the commercial success and musical acclaim he’d wanted since he got started.
Unfortunately, this happiness was short-lived due to his mother’s passing. Not even a month after his mother passed away, Antonio himself was found dead in his apartment. The cause of death was ruled as suicide.
Tragic as the tale may be, the music he made represents the feelings of a happy person. The beauty he created in that brief time is why he deserves to be remembered as one of the most famous Spanish singers of all time.
Soler hasn’t been around as long as some of the other artists on this list. But he’s made a massive impact in that short time. Born to a German father and a Belgian-Spanish mother in a small town close to Barcelona, he had a natural flair for language.
The family relocated to Japan when he was ten. He remained there for seven years, and during that time, he took piano lessons. The family moved back to Barcelona when he was seventeen.
In 2010, he started a band with his brother and some friends. During the group’s four-year existence, they appeared on a talent show, released some material, and gained quite a local following.
Soler settled in Berlin in 2014 and began making music on his own. His first big hit came in 2015 with El Mismo Sol. It went double-platinum in Italy and managed to make some noise in other European countries as well. He followed through with his gold and platinum-certified debut album, Eterno Agosto.
Soler’s success has since snowballed…
His second studio offering, Mar De Colores, was a gold and platinum success like its predecessor. The album produced hits such as “La Libertad” and “Loca.”
In 2017, he teamed up with Colombian band Morat to produce the platinum-certified hit “Yo Contigo, Tú Conmigo (The Gong Gong Song).” That song was featured in the animated Disney film Despicable Me 3. But Soler didn’t stop there with movies. He lent his voice to both the German and Italian versions of another Disney film, Encanto.
Joaquín Ramón Martínez Sabina was born in 1949. By the time he was fourteen, he had started composing his first poems and pieces of music. His first stint at playing music was in a band called Merry Youngs. They imitated the sounds of early rockers like Elvis, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard.
After school, he went to university. There, Sabina became an avid reader and drew inspiration from the works of Pablo Neruda and César Vallejo. He later became a contributor to the anti-fascist movement, which culminated in his father (who was a policeman), receiving a warrant for his son’s arrest.
In the mid-70s, he started playing music again, mostly performing on the local bar circuit. The Beatles guitarist George Harrison happened to be celebrating a birthday during one of these performances. He was impressed by Sabina and gave him a five-pound note, which the Spaniard has kept to this very day.
Sabina released two albums during the late-70s…
However, only the second produced a hit – “Pongamos Que Hablo De Madrid.” In 1984, he shifted gear into a more aggressive Rock style with Ruleta Rusa, which birthed the single “Pisa El Acelerador.”
1987’s Hotel, Dulce Hotel was Sabina’s first taste of large-scale success, largely based on the popularity of the single “Así Estoy Yo Sin Ti.” His first million-seller came in 1992 with Fisica Y Quimica. The album contains the saucy hit “Y Nos Dieron Las Diez which tells the story of a love affair.
From there, Sabina seemed to be able to grow gold…
He released Esta Boca Es Mia, Yo, Mi, Me, Contigo, as well as 19 Dias Y 500 Noches. These albums made him a star, and went on to gain Gold and Platinum status. Sabina has released eighteen studio albums; his fifteenth, Vinagre Y Rosas, was released in 2009 and debuted at the top of the Spanish charts. So, it’s no surprise he is one of the most successful Spanish singers of all time.
Paco de Lucía
Francisco Sánchez Gómez was born in December of 1947 in southern Spain. His father was a Flamenco guitar player who drilled the instrument into his son from the age of five. Paco once noted, “I learned the guitar like a child learns to breathe.”
Soon, he was recognized as a virtuoso player and began playing, recording, and touring with notable players of his time. He had mastered his style so thoroughly at a young age that he needed some new influences. This came in form of a Jazz festival he attended as a teen.
Inspired by the piano and trumpet playing of legends like Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, he began incorporating Jazz into his flamenco playing, something that had never been done before.
In 1972, he dropped El Duende Flamenco de Paco de Lucía…
An album that has now become sacred in the world of flamenco guitar. Paco continued to defy convention with the release of Fuente y Caudal in 1973. The album was much praised for its experimentalism as well as Paco’s mastery of his instrument. It contains “Entre dos Aguas,” which is considered a Flamenco masterpiece the world over.
Some of his other memorable compositions include “Cepa Andaluza,” “Solera,” and “Entre Dos Aguas.” In 1975, Lucia made history by becoming the first Flamenco guitarist to play at the Teatro Real in Madrid. The performance featured his brother and was turned into the fantastic live album Teatro Real En Vivo.
Paco went on to perform, record, and experiment even more with the likes of John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, and Larry Coryell. One of the greatest trio performances ever was captured on Meeting of The Spirits. Paco’s legacy lives on in the thousands of musicians who draw inspiration from him, whether they know it or not.
Concha Buika “Buika”
María Concepción Balboa Buika, was born in the Balearic Islands of Spain in 1972. She began her musical journey as a bass player and drummer. But, she decided to start singing since no one seemed interested in having a woman on bass or drums. She gained some local notoriety by singing in bars during the early 90s.
Her self-titled debut came in 2000. It fused many genres, including Jazz, African, Spanish, Electronica, Funk, and other styles. This experimentation has won her much acclaim throughout her career. Buika’s second album, Mi Niña Lola, gained a gold certification and earned her a Latin Grammy nomination.
Two years later, she earned another Latin Grammy nomination…
This time for Album of the Year with Niña de Fuego. Her fifth album, La Noche Más Larga, features “No Lo Sé,” a collaboration with guitar maestro Pat Metheny.
Buika has also collaborated with massive stars like Nelly Furtado and Seal. One of her most recent collaborations was with Carlos Santana on Los Invisibles in 2019. When you add it all up, it’s clear she is one of the most famous Spanish singers of all time.
Marta Sánchez López was born in Madrid in 1966. She had a musical heritage from her father, who was an opera singer. Her first real stint in music was as the lead singer for the popular Spanish group Olé Olé.
She sang on the gold and platinum albums Bailando Sin Salir De Casa and Los Hombres Las Prefieren Rubias. Those albums featured hits like “Yo Soy Infiel,” “Déjame Sola,” and “Lili Marlene.” She left the band in 1991 to pursue a solo career.
In 1993, she released her solo debut, Mujer…
That album remains one of her most successful albums. It features the two hit singles, “Desesperada” and “De Mujer a Mujer.” Her second studio offering, Mi Mundo, was enjoyed by an even wider audience thanks to tracks like “Arena y Sol,” “La Balleza,” and “Dime La Verdad.”
In 1996, Sanchez contributed the song “Obsession” to the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino’s Curdled. A year later, she recorded “Vivo Por Ella” with Andrea Bocelli for the Italian/Spanish edition of his Romanza album.
Her third album, Azabache, was produced in collaboration with Guns N Roses guitarist Slash and guitarist, producer, and composer Nile Rogers. The single “Moja Mi Corazón” became an international #1 hit song. Amongst her other giant hits are “Superstar” (in collaboration with DJ Sammy) and “Colgando en Tus Mano” featuring Carlos Baute.
Camarón de la Isla
Next up, we have another Flamenco legend. Born José Monje Cruz in San Fernando, Spain, in 1950, Camarón’s gift for singing was evident from an early age. After his father died, he began singing in pubs and bars to earn money. He eventually moved to Madrid, where he took up residence at a local club as a singer.
That’s where he met Paco de Lucía…
Together, the two musicians would record nine albums. Including Al Verte las Flores Lloran, Cada Vez Que Nos Miramos, and Como el Agua. Notable tracks from this period are “Que Un Toro Bravo en Su Muerte,” “Cada Vez Que Nos Miramos,” and “Como El Agua.”
Much like his fellow Flamenco musician Paco, Camarón had a healthy appetite for experimentation and brought elements of Rock & Roll into the mix. His tenth album, La Leyenda Del Tiempo, featured guitarist Tomatito. It has since become a seminal release in the world of flamenco and fusion music.
The album’s lyrics were partly composed of text from the works of Federico Garcia Lorca, and the album’s biggest hit was “Volando Voy.” Camarón is regarded as a national treasure in his native country. And he played a significant role in the 20th century Flamenco revival. It would be criminal to leave him off a list of the most famous Spanish singers of all time.
Camilo Blanes Cortés was born in Alcoi, Spain, in 1946. He got his start in music and theater during the 1960s when he sang in two Pop groups. He was also involved in a film version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Some of his first singles came out in 1970 and were released under the name Camilo Sexto. They included tracks like “Llegará el Verano” and “Sin Dirección.” However, after an appearance on a TV program, Sesto got his first #1 with the track “Algo De Mi.”
In 1972, he released Solo Un Hombre…
It was a massive success based on the popularity of tracks like “Amor…Amar”, “Como Coda Noche,” and “Fresa Salvaje.” In 1975, he starred in a Spanish version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar called Jesucristo Superstar. The production was a resounding success and catapulted his career to new heights.
After the roaring success of the production, Sesto continued to dominate the charts, both locally and internationally. Thanks to hits like “Vivir Así Es Morir de Amor,” “Quieres Ser Mi Amante?” and “Perdóname.”
As a songwriter, Camilo has worked with Angela Carrasco, Miguel Bosé, Lucía Méndez, and José José. It is speculated that Sesto has sold more than 175 million records worldwide (excluding his collaborations with other artists). As a result, he is one of the best-selling Spanish singers of all time.
David Bisbal Ferre was born in June of 1979 in Andalusia, Spain. His father was a champion featherweight boxer and a flamenco musician. He participated in the 2001 season of Operación Triunfo, where he placed second. The next year, he represented Spain in the 2002 Eurovision Song Contest as a backup singer.
His debut album, Corazón Latino, was also released in 2002 and was certified platinum seven times. The album spawned the massive hits “Ave Maria” and “Digale” (featured on the Spanish television series “Cuidado con el Angel”).
His second album, Premonición, was released in 2006 and went five times Platinum in the first week. The album produced some of Bisbal’s biggest hits, including “Quién Me Iba a Decir?”, “Como La Primera Vez”, and “Soldado De Papel”. He also released a live show, Todo Por Ustedes, in 2005.
But, that wasn’t all…
His first live acoustic release, Una Noche En El Teatro Real, was mixed and released four days after being recorded. The album set a record for a CD/DVD set by selling more than 50,000 copies in its first week of release. David has sold more than six million records worldwide, making him one of the most well-known Spanish singers ever.
Alejandro Sánchez Pizarro, was born in Madrid, Spain in 1968. His father was a door-to-door salesman who also played the guitar well enough to earn an extra income. At age seven, he dove into the instrument with such veracity that his constant playing drove his mother to smash his guitar.
Despite getting signed and releasing an album, Alejandro did not meet with the success he desired. At one point, he was even performing in gentleman’s clubs. Thankfully, he also managed to get a job at a recording studio. It was there that he sent another set of demos to a producer and was signed by Warner.
His second album, Viviendo Deprisa, was preceded by the singles “Pisando Fuerte” and “Se le Apagó la Luz.” Those won him his first batch of dedicated fans. The album would eventually be certified platinum nine times.
That was just the beginning…
His second offering, Si Tú Me Miras, went quadruple Platinum. The album included the songs “El Escaparate” and “Mi Primera Canción,” both were collaborations with flamenco legend Paco de Lucia.
Sanz’s third studio album, simply titled 3, was yet another glorious success, achieving eight platinum certifications. The album produced chart-toppers like “La Fuerza del Corazón,” “Mi Soledad y Yo,” and “Lo Ves?”. But, everything was kicked up a gear in 1997 when he released Más. The two-million-selling album is one of the highest sellers in Spanish history.
Aside from Sanz’s homeland (where it has been certified platinum 22 times), the album went multi-platinum in more than ten other countries. “Corazón Partío,” “Si Fuera Ella?” and “Amiga Mía” have become some of the most memorable tracks in not only Spain but throughout Latin countries worldwide.
José-Manuel Thomas Arthur Chao was born in Paris, France, in 1961. Influenced by groups like The Clash, The Jam, and Dr. Feelgood, he started as a youngster playing in Rock and Punk-style bands. He did have a love for Latin sounds from an early age as well. And he has noted Cuban singer Bola De Nieve as one of his earliest influences.
His first band, Mano Negra, had some success in France but eventually split…
At this point, Manu went to Madrid to start some new musical adventures. He formed a group called Radio Bemba, but he released the music under his own name. The group spent some time traveling and collecting new styles for their creative palette.
The first release, Clandestino, was obscure at first. But, slowly, it became a seminal album due to its wide variety of sounds and “bar room” sound. Tracks like “Clandestino” and “Bongo Bong” would eventually carry the album to multi-Platinum status.
Próxima Estación: Esperanza came next. And, unlike the previous album, it was an instant hit. Catchy tracks like “Me Gustas Tu,” “La Primavera,” and “Infinita Tristeza” made people smile and dance all across Spanish-speaking countries. Aside from Spanish, he sings in French, English, Italian, Arabic, Catalan, Galician, Portuguese, and Greek.
Enrique Miguel Iglesias Preysler was born in 1975 in Madrid, Spain. He stayed for a while with his mother but later moved to Miami to live with his father. Enrique’s passion for singing was evident from a young age. But he wanted to make sure that his famous father’s shadow wasn’t seen as a crutch.
Iglesias made his first demo tape using money that he’d borrowed from his Nanny. He would later dedicate an album to her. Using this demo, he managed to secure a recording contract. Early on, he promoted himself as “Enrique Martinez” and said that he was from Guatemala.
Could you blame him?
His self-titled debut went gold in Portugal after just a week. The singles were “Si Tú Te Vas,” “Por Amarte,” “No Llores Por Mí,” and “Trapecista,” all of which went to #1 on the Latin charts. And it earned him a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album.
Vivir came next. With this album, Enrique was able to go up against English Pop stars in sales numbers. “Miente,” “Enamorado Por Primera Vez,” and “Sólo en Ti” topped the Latin charts in Spain and many other Latin countries. Enrique was nominated for an American Music Award that year, Luis Miguel was another nominee, but they both lost to Enrique’s father, Julio.
After a successful tour, he released Cosas Del Amor in 1998, aided by the singles “Esperanza” and “Nunca Te Olvidaré.” It, too, became a multi-platinum success. Enrique had risen to the upper echelons of serious Latin artists, so it was time to cross over into the English market.
That’s just what he did…
Actor Will Smith went to see Enrique perform and asked him if he’d like to contribute a song to a film he was working on called Wild Wild West. The resulting track, “Bailamos,” became a #1 hit across the US and the lead single for his subsequent English language debut Enrique.
Follow-up albums took things to a whole new level. The singles “Don’t Turn Off the Lights,” “Escape,” and “Hero” dominated the airwaves and helped the Escape album become a diamond-certified mega-record. At this point, he was the biggest Spanish singer in the world.
So, what came next?
He decided to go back to his native tongue for his next album. Quizas was more complex in terms of production and much more personal when it came to lyrical content.
It became one of the best-performing Spanish albums of all time, selling a million copies in its first week. As well as shooting to #12 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The singles “Mentiroso,” “Quizás,” and “Para Qué La Vida” all managed to top the Latin charts.
Iglesias has continued to build on his success with sold-out world tours and hugely successful albums like Euphoria and Sex and Love featuring world-conquering hits like “I Like It” featuring Pitbull and “Bailando.”
Carlos Marín Menchero was born in West Germany in 1968 but raised in Madrid, Spain. He made his first recordings at the age of eight. He studied piano and solfeggio and also performed live for large crowds as a youngster.
Originally, he went into acting and opera…
Carlos appeared in many local productions, which quickly led to him becoming known for his excellent voice and skill as a performer. He was given the opportunity to sing in the animated films The Nightmare Before Christmas and the Spanish version of Disney’s Cinderella.
He joined the group Il Divo in 2003, and their self-titled debut was released a year later. The album became a roaring success, even managing to knock UK Popstar Robbie Williams off the #1 spot. The singles “Regress a Mi,” “Mama,” and “Nella Fantasia” all made it onto the mainstream charts worldwide. An incredible feat for a vocal group at the time.
Il Divo’s fourth album, Siempre, contains a beautiful rendition of “Nights in White Satin,” originally by The Moody Blues. As well as a Spanish version of Bryan Adam’s “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman.” If you haven’t heard this well-respected Spanish singer, you really should.
No other place to end this list of the most famous Spanish singers of all time. Julio José Iglesias de la Cueva was born in Madrid, Spain, in 1943. He wasn’t a singer at first but rather chose to play football while he was studying.
Unfortunately, an accident brought his football career to an end. While he was recovering in the hospital, a nurse gave him a guitar and encouraged him to play.
The rest is history…
His first album, Yo Canto, was a roaring success, spending numerous weeks in the Spanish charts thanks to tracks like “La Vida Sigue Igual,” “Chiquilla,” and “Tenía Una Guitarra.” Two other notable albums from this period were Soy and A Flor De Piel.
In the late-80s, he moved to Miami after signing with CBS International. He started making music in French, Italian, Portuguese, and German. Later, he released De Nina Mujer in five different languages. That album brought him his first English language hit, “Begin the Beguine.”
His 1984 album, 1100 Bel Air Place, made his name known to the English-speaking world and went on to sell nearly ten million copies worldwide. The album features the hit duet with Willie Nelson, “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before.” Julio has released more than twenty albums and has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. He is considered to be the highest-selling Spanish singer in history.
Want More Spectacular Spanish Music?
If so, check out our thoughts on the Best Spanish Songs of All Time, the Best Spanish Love Songs, the Saddest Spanish Songs of All Time, the Most Famous Hispanic Singers Of All Time, the Most Famous Mexican Singers, and the Most Famous Puerto Rican Singers for more incredible song selections.
Most Famous Spanish Singers Of All Time – Final Thoughts
From classic flamenco to weepy ballads to saucy dance numbers, the Spaniards can do them all. Whether you’re old-school or new blood, there is bound to be a singer or performer from Spain who can make you laugh, cry, or both at the same time.
The most famous Spanish singers mentioned here are but a few of the many out there. Are there any that you would have included? Let us know in the comments below.
Until next time, happy listening.