From Nicky Jam to Jamie Foxx, Check Out These Latin Music Week Virtual Panels

Devin Christopher

Anuel photographed on May 24, 2020 in Miami.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary as the biggest and longest-running gathering for the Latin music industry, Billboard’s Latin Music Week (Oct. 20-23) is going digital this year. Its star-packed lineup features workshops, performances and revealing panels with top artists and executives — including these highlights.


They represent different generations and genres, but the 23-year-old singer and the veteran regional Mexican group are both dedicated to telling immigrants’ stories as well as advocating for their voting rights. “I take the responsibility of being an American and having the right to vote very seriously,” says Becky G, the daughter of Mexican immigrants. “My abuelitos went through a lot to get to this country and become citizens so that their children and grandchildren could have a better future.” Adds Los Tigres lead singer Jorge Hernández: “It is extremely important to represent the Latino community with my vote. Any of us who has the right to vote but does not is continuing the belief that our voices will never be heard.”


Foxx met Anuel two years ago in Miami when the renowned actor visited the Latin trap pioneer on the set of one of his music videos. The two bonded over their shared love of fast cars, reggaetón and film — and now, they’re working together to bring to the screen various projects based on Anuel’s life, including a documentary and a docuseries. For the first time, they’ll speak publicly about that process and the growing opportunities for Latin artists in the film world.


Pharrell Williams was an early fan of Rosalía, who has clearly been inspired by him — both are tireless explorers of new musical realms with boundless creative vision. She’s a 27-year-old from Spain known for her blend of hip-hop and flamenco; he’s a veteran producer from Virginia Beach, Va., whose career has veered from hip-hop to pop hits. He’s received the Fashion Icon award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America and has a deal with Adidas; she’s a fashion muse who has her own deal with Nike. In this conversation, they’ll discuss their upcoming musical collaboration, as well as how creatives from different cultures, languages and countries find common ground in their work.


Meditation “has saved my life,” says Balvin, who began the practice years ago and meditates twice daily. With meditation master Chopra, he has launched Renew Yourself: Body, Mind & Spirit, a 21-day meditation experience in Spanish and English. “My Hispanic audience is actually bigger than my Indian audience,” says Chopra, who visits Latin America annually and whose grandchildren listen to Balvin. “But we had never offered meditation in Spanish. Now, with José [Balvin], we have the right collaborator.” The two will chat — Balvin from his home in Medellín, Colombia, and Chopra from California — about their groundbreaking program and how to use meditation as a tool for fulfillment and mental health.


Before signing his new label deal in 2019, Ozuna went through a rite of passage: an Argentine asado dinner at the home of Sony Music Latin Iberia chairman/CEO Verde, where he showed up wearing a Real Madrid soccer T-shirt — despite the fact that his host is a die-hard fan of rival Barcelona. That’s just one of many revealing stories the two will recount in this conversation, which will cover everything from demos that Ozuna has sent Verde at 3 a.m. (with immediate replies) to Verde’s commitment to giving each act on his vast roster equal attention. (“Their success is my biggest accomplishment,” says Verde.) It’s a rare glimpse of how artists and executives at the industry’s highest level interact and, as Ozuna puts it, become “family.”


Nicky Jam was 34 when he landed his first No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart, but what a hit it was: “El Perdón,” a collaboration with Enrique Iglesias, spent 30 weeks in the top spot, making it the third-longest-running chart leader of all time. Since then, Nicky Jam has notched four more No. 1s and 17 total top 10s on the tally. In this chat with Billboard’s Leila Cobo, he’ll discuss his craft and the ingredients behind a hit, including — as he once told Billboard — “a sweet, sticky chorus. You hear it once and you can’t stop singing it.” He will also speak about his film projects, including his role voicing a black cat in the upcoming Tom & Jerry.

Local Inspiration, Global Stage

Dudame: Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images. Vives: Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images.
Dudamel (left) and Vives

In a Latin Music Week high point, 2020 Billboard Latin Hall of Fame award winner Carlos Vives will sit down with the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Gustavo Dudamel.

Carlos Vives, the first Colombian artist to truly take his country’s traditional rhythms to the world, will be honored at the Billboard Latin Music Awards on Oct. 21 for his career of breaking musical boundaries and promoting music education. He has found a kindred spirit in Gustavo Dudamel, the dynamic music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; a product of Venezuela’s El Sistema, which gives children the opportunity to learn an instrument and play in orchestras, the maestro has sparked a revolution of his own by bringing classical music together with jazz, rock, gospel and rap.

“Dudamel has popularized something that’s very sophisticated, and I’ve sophisticated something very popular,” says Vives during the conversation. Dudamel, who has helped replicate El Sistema around the world, calls music “a powerful agent of change and inclusion” and describes access to arts education as paramount: “When you give a child an instrument, you give him an identity.”

This past year, Vives opened his own music school in Bogotá, Colombia, naming it Río Grande, a nod to the Magdalena River, which has carried musical traditions across Colombia. Students learn not only classical music but also their country’s folk music. “We teach them to appreciate their local music, but also that you can connect your roots with the world,” says Vives.

In Vives’ moving conversation with Dudamel, the two emphasize their unified vision: that in a fractured world, music is the tool to break barriers. “Music requires you to work as a team and to listen,” says Dudamel. “When I’m playing music, I may not agree with the person sitting next to me, but together, we can create harmony."

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This article originally appeared in the Oct. 17, 2020, issue of Billboard.