The tradition of the singer/songwriter who looks at life with an explorer’s curiosity is alive and well with Melendi, the Spanish superstar whose albums have struck a collective chord in his native Spain. At 38 years old, a time when many Latin stars are struggling to adapt to new sounds, Melendi has stayed on his course of beautifully crafted, mostly acoustic songs, and seen his eighth album, Quítate las gafas, spend five weeks at No. 1 on Spain’s sales charts. Now, for the first time, Melendi is seriously looking at the U.S. and Latin America as fertile grounds for his songs, and is currently touring the U.S., Mexico and South America before launching his 30-plus city tour in Spain this spring. We spoke with Melendi prior to his March 4 sold-out show at the Fillmore Miami Beach.
You’ve said before that you started in music late in life. It’s hard to believe, listening to your albums.
I discovered a guitar when I was 16. Before that, I hadn’t even sung Happy Birthday. I found a guitar in my grandfather’s attic and it became mine. I’ve always been very shy, and I realized it was easier for me to sing than talk.
Tell me about “Desde que estamos juntos” and its very Cuban vibe.
It’s a Cuban rumba. Well, it’s a rumba, but we added a Cuban tres so it sounds a little like a Cuban son. I have a Cuban subconscious because my grandfather lived his entire life in Cuba, and even though he died when my dad was just one year old, I feel the connection. I wanted to film the video there but it wasn’t possible.