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Ricky Martin On The Need For More LGBTQ+ Visibility, Forthcoming Album ‘Play’ & Feeling Like A “Proud Papa” To Younger Latinx Artists

Ricky Martin 

Photo: worldjunkies

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Ricky Martin On The Need For More LGBTQ+ Visibility, Forthcoming Album ‘Play’ & Feeling Like A “Proud Papa” To Younger Latinx Artists

As Ricky Martin prepares to finish his 11th studio album, he reflects on his trailblazing career, his experience as a gay Latin pop star and shares details behind upcoming tour with Enrique Iglesias

GRAMMYs/Jun 16, 2021 - 09:00 pm

Ricky Martin is pressing "play" on his music career again after 2020’s PAUSA. The Puerto Rican icon hasn’t released an LP since 2015’s A Quien Quiera Escuchar but released his EP last year, teasing fans who have been waiting for a longer musical comeback. His upcoming album, aptly titled Play, will feature his newest single "Qué Rico Fuera" featuring Chilean-American singer Paloma Mami. In the neon-lit music video, the premier Latin pop star dances through the streets like no time has passed since his launch with Menudo in the ‘80s. The alluring song embraces today’s most popular sounds blending Latin pop music with influences of reggaeton and Afro-beats. The rhythms, he says, are influenced by his DNA.

"[Play is about] going back to my culture and having fun with what I am made of," Martin tells GRAMMY.com. "When we talk about Puerto Rico, we have so many different cultural influences. We have Africa. We have the Anglo influence. I've never been a purist. All I want to do is create fusion and that's where we are today."

Martin reveals fans will have to wait a little longer to hear Play as he's still working on what is to be his 11th studio album. But there’s already something to mark—in November, he will celebrate 30 years of his first solo release, 1991's self-titled LP. The album helped Martin conquer the Latin music world and in 1999, he became a trailblazer in globalizing Latinx culture with his crossover smash "Livin' La Vida Loca." The sultry banger impressively earned him Record of the Year, Best Pop Album and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance nominations at the 2000 GRAMMY Awards Show. Following his success in both the English and Spanish-language markets, Martin is one of the rare unicorns to have earned both a GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY—he's collected 2 GRAMMYs and 4 Latin GRAMMYs.

Martin’s influence is so wide that when he came out as gay in 2010, it became a cultural touchstone for LGBTQ+ representation in the Latinx community. As he continues to celebrate global success, Latin music artists generations after him get to see that attitudes are changing in a historically machista culture and that they can have a career being their authentic selves after coming out, too.

In an interview over Zoom, Martin talked about collaborating with Paloma Mami, his fall co-headlining tour with Enrique Iglesias, and his legacy in Latin music.

What was the experience like to work with Paloma Mami for "Que Rico Fuera"?

It was amazing. But to be honest, we met the day we shot the video, and that's how it goes nowadays. I'm a little bit obsessed with her. I love her attitude. I love her approach. I love her talent. I love how she's taking the bull by the horns. She's young and I have a lot of hope in this great generation of young artists that are popping out. When it comes to music, I just love what she does. At the end of the day, it's about being open to ideas. It doesn't matter where they're coming from. To be open-minded. That's what I do and I love working like that.

Like "Vente Pa' Ca" and "La Mordidita," it's also a very sensual song.

Yeah! Sex sells and I'm not afraid of that. Everybody can relate, I think. It’s one of those things. [laughs] One thing is sensuality. One thing is sexuality. Let's mix them both. When I walk onstage, I bring my culture with me. I'm Latino and we're not afraid of playing with our sexuality, so that's important. Why run away from that?

Christina Aguilera was another woman you worked with. “Nobody Wants To Be Lonely” turned 20 this year. What do you remember about that collaboration?

Every time I talk about Christina, it brings a smile [to my face] because I think it was a very powerful track. Her delivery, her performance like always was beautiful. Then I had the opportunity to revive the song with my residency in Vegas. I called her and I said, “Baby, I’m going to revive this song, and I would love to shoot a video for you to be there with me while I sing.” She was like, “I’m ready, Ricky. Let’s do this and let’s do it right.” And because of that video, I think it’s one of those songs that I will keep alive as much as I can. 

How did you come up with the idea for the joint tour with Enrique Iglesias?

It had to be now. Not before. This is the time because we both really want to do this. This is not a strategic thing. We talked about this, and we agree on the fact that, at this point, we just feel free in many ways. Imagine a tour with Enrique. His music. My music. People get ready because it's going to be all about dancing. No ballads in this concert. It's about celebrating life, especially after what we've been through.

You're an artist that's won both GRAMMYs and Latin GRAMMYs awards. How do you feel about that?

It's extremely important for me. When people say, "I didn't win, but it's ok." No, no, no. It's important to win. [laughs] It's important to win and it's important to be recognized by your colleagues. It's all the producers in the industry, engineers and composers. It's beautiful to feel the support from people within the industry. I think I’m at six [GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMYs] now. It's really cool. I felt very protected by the [Recording] Academy for many years now and it's still the same. Let’s see what happens. This is only the beginning. Let’s do this. 

It's Pride month and I was wondering if you had a message for your fans in the LGBTQ+ community.

Everybody just be. Just be. Be happy. And it just feels amazing to also feel protected by an amazing community. I became a better person when I was able to be transparent. And for those out there that are still struggling with their identity, I just wish you the best. Everything's going to be good.

What I loved about the Latin GRAMMYs last year was that in the Big Three categories (Song, Record, and Album of the Year), there was you, Kany García, Pablo Alborán, and Jesse y Joy's Joy Huerta. There was a lot of LGBTQ+ representation.

There is a lot of representation, but we want more! This is what's so important about me posting pictures with my family and posting pictures with my husband [Jwan Yosef] because it's about visibility. It's important to normalize families like mine. It feels good. There's a lot that needs to be done. We've taken solid steps, but because of these very beautiful and positive steps, we're also feeling a lot of resistance from people that just don't understand the way we love. So we just have to practice compassion and move forward, but be firm and proud.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of your first solo album. What have you learned about yourself in that time?

That it's important to change. I'm happy to say I'm not doing the same kind of music that I was doing 10 years ago. It's important to evolve. That's why I keep going back to the importance of walking into the studio or creating a very beautiful creative process with people from different generations and different cultural backgrounds. That's one of the things I don't want to change. I've always been very open to that.

In Menudo, my introduction into the music business, I was pretty much told what to do, how to sing, what to say, and how to answer questions. It was good in the sense that I was disciplined, but then it was about going within and finding the emotions and stories to talk about. And apparently people can relate to my stories. They can relate to my sounds. I'm very thankful.

How do you feel to see Latin music being so global now?

It has always been global! [laughs] I know what you mean. It just takes me back to when I was experiencing that very beautiful crossover in the early 2000s. And here we are again with everything that's happening with Bad Bunny, J Balvin, and all these monsters that are doing amazing things for music. It is amazing that they don't have to record in English to be accepted because people are used to the sound of different languages now with all this streaming and for music from all over the world to be so accessible. Obviously language is not an issue anymore. It just feels great. It feels great to see them enjoying and surfing this wave. To see this young generation being so in tune with their needs, it's very special. I feel like a proud papa.

5 LGBTQ+ Latinx Artists You Need To Know

Universal language: Why humans need music

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Universal language: Why humans need music

Learn why music is truly a common language that is key to human development and evolution

GRAMMYs/Jul 3, 2017 - 11:51 pm

There's no doubt music finds a way into nearly every moment of our daily lives, whether it's marking milestones such as a first dance at a wedding, the soundtrack to our favorite movie or singing in the shower for fun. In fact, it's hard to imagine times when we are more than an ear-length away from hearing another song.

But why does music mean so much to us? A powerful form of communication that transcends all barriers — music is our common language, but why?

A composer and educator with a lifelong fascination for music, Adam Ockelford has traced our connection with music back to infants and caregivers. Infants are unable to follow words, but they are developmentally primed to trace patterns in sound, such as through the songs a caretaker sings to them. Therefore, understanding music is intuitive for humans, even at a very young age, and it encourages healthy development.

In addition, there may be another evolutionary purpose for music. Music provides a sense of sameness between humans — if you can copy the sounds someone else makes, you must be an ally. This synergy plays a role in human survival because it evokes empathy and understanding, a lesson we still learn from music in today's culture.

"Music is central to the notion of what it is to be human, and spans cultures, continents and centuries," writes Ockelford. "My music, your music, our music can bind us together as families, as tribes and as societies in a way that nothing else can."

Need a playlist? Check out our favorite songs of summer 2017 

Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour

Rosalía 

Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

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Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour

El Mal Querer Tour, named after the Spanish pop star's latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances

GRAMMYs/Mar 20, 2019 - 12:25 am

Rosalía is set to perform at some of the most popular music festivals around the globe, including Primavera Sound in Spain, Lollapalooza (Argentina and Chile) and Coachella, but the Spanish pop star isn't stopping there when she gets to the States. Now, she has announced her first solo North American Tour with a string of dates that will bring her to select cities in the U.S. and Canada.

El Mal Querer Tour, named after her latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances. Then she'll play San Francisco on April 22, New York on April 30 and close out in Toronto on May 2.

 

RELATED: How Rosalia Is Reinventing What It Means To Be A Global Pop Star

"I’m so happy to announce my first solo North American tour dates," the singer tweeted.

Rosalía won Best Alternative Song and Best Fusion/ Urban Interpretation at the 19th Latin GRAMMY Awards in November and has been praised for bringing flamenco to the limelight with her hip-hop and pop beats. During her acceptance speech she gave a special shout-out to female artists who came before her, including Lauryn Hill and Bjork. 

Rosalía has been getting some love herself lately, most notably from Alicia Keys, who gave the Spanish star a shout-out during an acceptance speech, and Madonna, who featured her on her Spotify International Women's Day Playlist. 

Tickets for the tour go on sale March 22. For more tour dates, visit Rosalía's website.

2019 Music Festival Preview: Noise Pop, Coachella, Ultra & More

Alicia Keys Unveils Dates For New Storytelling Series

Alicia Keys

Photo by Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images

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Alicia Keys Unveils Dates For New Storytelling Series

The artist will take her upcoming 'More Myself: A Journey' biography on a four-city book tour

GRAMMYs/Mar 5, 2020 - 04:07 am

After performing her powerhouse piano medley at the 62nd Annual GRAMMYs, R&B superstar, GRAMMY-winning artist and former GRAMMY’s host Alicia Keys has revealed that she will set out on a four-stop book tour next month. The storytelling tour will support her forthcoming book More Myself: A Journey, which is slated for a March 31 release via Flatiron Books and is reported to feature stories and music from the book, told and performed by Alicia and her piano, according to a statement.

Part autobiography, part narrative documentary, Keys' title is dubbed in its description as an "intimate, revealing look at one artist’s journey from self-censorship to full expression."  You can pre-order the title here.

The book tour will kick off with a March 31 Brooklyn stop at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. From there, Keys will visit Atlanta’s Symphony Hall on April 5 and Chicago’s Thalia Hall with Chicago Ideas the following day, April 6. The short-run will culminate on April 7 in Los Angeles at the Theatre at Ace Hotel.

Pre-sales for the tour are underway and public on-sale will begin on Friday, March 6 at 12 p.m. Eastern Time. Tickets for the intimate dates and full release dates and times are available here.

Keys won her first five career awards at the 44th Annual GRAMMYs in 2002. On the night, she received awards in the Best New Artists, Song of the Year, Best R&B Song, Best R&B Album and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance categories respectively. She has received a total of 29 nominations and 15 GRAMMYs in her career.

This year, Keys will also embark on a world tour in support of Alicia, the artist’s upcoming seventh studio album and the follow up of 2016’s Here, due out March 20 via RCA Records.

Luis Fonsi To Maluma: Who Will Win Record Of The Year Latin GRAMMY?

Maluma

Photo: C Flanigan/Getty Images

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Luis Fonsi To Maluma: Who Will Win Record Of The Year Latin GRAMMY?

Cast your vote. Who will voters choose for Record Of The Year at the 18th Latin GRAMMY Awards?

GRAMMYs/Oct 1, 2017 - 08:57 pm

Including the likes of Shakira and Carlos Vives to Natalia Lafourcade, Marc Anthony, Jesse & Joy, and Alejandro Sanz, the previous Latin GRAMMY winners for Record Of The Year reads like a who's who of Latin music. This year's nominees are no different.

With Rubén Blades' sensual "La Flor De La Canela," Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee's song of the summer "Despacito," Residente's impactful "Guerra," Ricky Martin with Maluma's Vente Pa' Ca," and Jorge Drexler's "El Surco," among others, this year's class of 18th Latin GRAMMY Awards nominees for Record Of The Year is loaded.  

Which song do you think will take home the Latin GRAMMY for Record Of The Year? Cast your vote below.