Eight years since the release of his last album in the U.S. and following a seven-year absence from the Billboard charts, Colombian star Carlos Vives debuts at No. 1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart with "Volví a Nacer" today.
The track is the first single from Corazón Profundo, his upcoming album set for release in 2013.
Vives' accomplishment is rare but not unique; the last artist to debut at No. 1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart was Gloria Estefan with her single "Hotel Nacional" in January 2012. The last male soloist to do so was Romeo Santos with "You" in May 2011.
But the time lapse between Vives' debut today and his last chart appearance -- the single "Voy a Olvidarme de Mí" went to No. 10 in 2004 -- makes it a particularly noteworthy debut.
Vives was the first Colombian star to find a major international audience thanks to his mix of traditional vallenato with pop and rock. Vives' success, dating back to 1989, was explosive. He had 14 hits on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart between 1989 and 2005, with four of those reaching No. 1. When Vives' recording deal with EMI Latin (now Capitol Latin) ended, however, he did not renew nor did he sign with a new label.
Earlier this year, however, he signed a new management deal with Walter Kolm, the former president of Universal Music Latino/Machete, and went back into the studio. Kolm wanted to make a splash with Vives' return, which has been conversation fodder in Colombia for the past month, where he is a coach in that country's version of "The Voice" (La Voz). Here in the U.S., where a No. 1 is notoriously difficult to score given the multiple formats and regions at work, he personally took an unfinished version of "Volví A Nacer" (I Was Born Again) to several Latin radio programmers to woo them and make them fall in love in the track.
In promoting the song, Kolm enlisted the help of his former head of promotions. Gabriel Buitrago, via Buitrago's promotion company, Summa Marketing and Entertainment, which has scored No. 1s for Don Omar, Ricardo Arjona and Wisin & Yandel in recent weeks.
Last week, the track immediately gained airplay in 30 stations nationwide. Its standing in the chart was aided by an exclusive one-hour-long Vives interview that aired only on SBS stations and featured the track.
Some stations, particularly in the West Coast, are playing a cumbia version of the song.
Vives is expected to sign with Sony Music Latin in the upcoming weeks.