Panel: Latin's Leading Ladies
Moderator: Justino Aguila, Associate Editor for Latin Music, Billboard
Outspoken, confident and charming, the four woemn who comprised the “Latin Leading Ladies,” panel spoke candidly about their journeys in the music industry.
Of the four panelists, three-time Latin Grammy-winning Latin pop sensation Olga Tañón, Kany Garcia, Mexican breakout star America Sierra, and independent Northern Mexican pop singer-songwriter Carla Morrison, Tanon was the most seasoned. When the moderator, Billboard's Justino Aguila, asked Tanon directly, “how does one get to be Olga Tañón?” Tañón responded jokingly, “Well, my mother named me that way.” Afterwards she explained how her mother tried to derail her childhood dreams of becoming a singer. suggesting become a nurse instead because, “it takes too much money to make it in that business.” But Tañón was pertinacious and would go on the roof of her house and sing to the stars. Today, the singer says those stars are singing back at her in the admiration she receives from fans.
She attributes her success to her perseverance and discipline, two attributes that were echoed by the other three members of the panel, Latin pop phenom Sierra, the freshest face on the panel, related to Tañón’s experience of not having wasn’t enough money to support her aspirations. The regional Mexican singer rising to international fame stuck a chord, telling the crowd, “if you have enough ambition, you will never abandon your dreams.”
From left: América Sierra, Olga Tañón, Kany Garcia, Carla Morrison and panel moderator Billboard's Justino Aguila (Photo: Arnold Turner)
The topic shifted to the body-conscious entertainment industry and how record labels attempt to mold the image of their artists. Tañón reflected back to a time when she started out with merengue trio Chantelle and record execs wanted to take promotional pictures of her in a bikini. The lively entertainer refused. “I wanted to show off my singing skills, not my body,” Tañón said.
The fiercely independent Carla Morrison seconded Tañón sentiment. “I have some junk in the trunk, and that’s the way it’s going to be,” said Morrison. “This is my image, I’m a Norteña chick, and I tell record labels to take it or leave it.”
Kany Garcia brings the idea home: “If you have a product that is imitation that is when record labels take over.” For her, producing music of quality with authenticity is key. “I want to make music that, 20-years from now, even my kids will want to listen too.”