Shakira: El Dorado

Shakira’s eleventh studio album, launched in 2017, showed her in peak form—bearing in mind that with Grammys galore, career record sales over 60 million and YouTube views topping 12 billion, her “peak” has an altitude mere superstars can’t reach. But the El Dorado World Tour scheduled to begin last November was delayed seven months by a vocal cord hemorrhage, and as the Colombian singer-songwriter wondered if she would ever perform … More Shakira: El Dorado

Flor de Toloache: Las Caras Lindas

“Whatever women do,” observed the feminist pioneer Charlotte Whitton, “they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.” No surprise that when Flor de Toloache became the first all-female mariachi band in New York City—and a rarity on the wider mariachi stage—they encountered skeptics. But the group’s first album earned a Grammy nomination … More Flor de Toloache: Las Caras Lindas

Carmen París & Nabyla Maan: Dos Medinas Blancas

If you had to choose one biography as a window to the splendor and diversity of Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain), a good choice might be the scientist-philosopher-musician-poet Ibn Bâjja. Though much of his work was lost, his theories on astronomy and physics were preserved by Maimonides and Averroes, fellow polymaths who shared his fate—all outlived the age of coexistence and died in exile. The modern … More Carmen París & Nabyla Maan: Dos Medinas Blancas

Juanes: Mis Planes Son Amarte

As a lyricist, Juanes has been compared to John Lennon, as a humanitarian to Bono. He has sold 15 million albums and has honors to spare. So what more does the Colombian singer-songwriter aspire to? Well, there was his boyhood dream of becoming an astronaut… His latest album—marrying guasca and cumbia to classic rock—is an elegant, passionate collection of a dozen love songs; based on music alone, they rank among his best. It also … More Juanes: Mis Planes Son Amarte

Prince Royce: Five

Most of Prince Royce’s career as a singer and songwriter has been dedicated to bachata, but with an open window letting in subtle flavors from outside. The Bronx-born son of Dominican parents, Royce has released albums in Spanish and English, switching back and forth with a dexterity undoubtedly fueled by the mental proximity of parallel vocabularies. On his fifth studio album, a collection of solo and duet love songs (mostly in Spanish), his … More Prince Royce: Five

Las Cafeteras: Tastes Like L.A.

Bob Dylan warned the Establishment that a raging battle would “soon shake your windows and rattle your walls/For the times they are a-changin.’” Five decades later, If I Was President, the signature protest track from Las Cafeteras’ new album, is likewise animated by the idea that anyone can imagine the power to repair the world: “Mr. President, I’ve come to make clear/That I don’t have the papers to work over here,” it begins, proceeding to a priority … More Las Cafeteras: Tastes Like L.A.

Mor Karbasi: Ojos de Novia

The Sephardic saga includes chapters of persecution and expulsion, but on her forth album the Israeli singer-songwriter Mor Karbasi (who has also lived in London and Seville) looks at her Jewish heritage from Spain and Morocco mostly through the prism of love. Ojos de Novia (Eyes of a Bride) embraces songs of romantic love (though sometimes involving disapproving or even warring parents), love of family, of God, of singing and of nature. This is an … More Mor Karbasi: Ojos de Novia

Ciro Hurtado: Selva

In the Peruvian rainforest where Ciro Hurtado grew up, the sun peaked through the tree canopy and radio brought musical breezes from neighboring countries and around the world. Though he has lived in the United States since he was 20, Hurtado has spent his life as a guitarist and composer creating his own hybrid habitat, with an abundance of musical species—Andean folk, classical, jazz, blues, flamenco, among others—fusing into a magical echo/ecosystem. On his newest album … More Ciro Hurtado: Selva

Ana Alcaide: Leyenda

Ana Alcaide has forged a personal Silk Route to distant lands and past epochs. Blending imported elements into her music, she has made the Swedish nyckelharpa part of her medieval Spanish repertoire; released two albums exploring the Sephardic experience; and fused sounds with Indonesian musicians. On Leyenda (Legend), her fifth album, Alcaide offers fables of women who devote earthly and magical powers to good and wise, sinister and sometimes tragic ends. Her silky, seductive … More Ana Alcaide: Leyenda

Ricardo Arjona: Apague la Luz y Escuche

When Ricardo Arjona was playing on Guatemala’s state basketball team in 1987, he scored 78 points in a single game, setting a national record that stood for decades. He also has impressive numbers as a singer-songwriter—filling 100,000-seat stadiums and selling 20 million albums, placing him among the most popular Latin American artists of all time. Arjona crafts his music from elegant melodies and passionate lyrics; from a pop/rock base, he has … More Ricardo Arjona: Apague la Luz y Escuche