5 Things to Know About Rising Latin Star Carlos Rivera

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Carlos Rivera performs during Sin Bandera Tour at American Airlines Arena on Oct. 9, 2016 in Miami.

In the world of pop music, Broadway is usually a detour rather than a path to success. But for rising Mexican star Carlos Rivera, playing Simba in the Spanish-language version of The Lion King in Mexico and Spain was a game-changer. After 700 performances in Spain, Rivera was seen live by nearly 1 million people, creating huge name recognition for the launch of his album Yo Creo (Sony).

Now, after playing shows in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Argentina and opening for pop duo Sin Bandera, Rivera is generating name recognition way beyond Spain. In his native Mexico, Yo Creo -- which includes many of his own songs -- has been certified gold, and as part of his current tour, he'll play at Auditorio Nacional on Oct. 29.

Here are five things you need to know about Latin pop's next big balladeer:

1. Franco de Vita gave him his big break. Rivera was a contestant on a reality TV show in Mexico when De Vita came as a guest artist and heard him sing. He was so blown away, he invited Rivera to be a guest artist on his tour. "I was 20 years old and so worried because I still hadn't launched my solo career," remembers Rivera. "Franco told me he hadn't recorded his first album until he was 29. He said, 'It doesn't'matter how old you are. Sooner or later, you'll be recognized.'"

2. The Lion King wasn't his only musical theater role. "I had roles in Bésame Mucho, I was the monster in Beauty and the Beast, I did Mamma Mia. And, of course, my dream was to play Simba in The Lion King. It was one of my good choices in life. It made me learn English, in case I was ever offered the role in English. Doing musical theater helped me a lot. I knew it would generate credibility and respect. There's no cut-and-paste there."

3. Although he was a reality show contestant, he doesn't think they're the end game. "Some people think those shows 'make' artists, but artists aren't made in four months. Being chosen by a big reality judge is great, but it's over in a minute. What's real is what you do and how you work. That's something I learned doing theater."

4. He doesn't come from a musical family, but boy can he sing. My mom was a kindergarten teacher and my dad worked on a ranch. They were never stage parents until I began to win singing contests when I was 15. We're four siblings, and no one else sings.

5. He may be an international star, but he's Mexican at heart. Rivera's biggest influences are Mexican folklore. "Franco De Vita always said I had to put Mexican elements in my songs so I would always be a Mexican for the world. That's how I began to approach my songwriting."


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