Profile: A.B. Quintanilla III And Cruz Martinez

Excerpted from the magazine for

It's hard to classify A.B. Quintanilla III and Cruz Martínez, because they are involved in so many aspects of the music industry.

They are the founders, leaders and the musical drive behind A.B. Quintanilla III & the Kumbia Kings, one of the most successful and distinctive groups in Latin music and finalists for multiple Billboard Latin Music Awards, set for April 28 in Miami.

They're also songwriters with an impressive track record. Aside from the Kumbia Kings' songs, the duo wrote many of the late Selena's hits (Quintanilla is her brother) and scores of tracks for other artists, including Alicia Villarreal, who is married to Martínez.

Quintanilla and Martínez are also entrepreneurs. Between the two of them they helm a multitude of entertainment companies, covering management, a record label, film and TV, as well as recording and production studios.

But perhaps above everything else, they are top-line producers.

Quintanilla first made his mark as producer/songwriter for Selena. But together, Quintanilla and Martínez are credited with creating the distinctive urban/cumbia sound that defines the Kumbia Kings, as well as their many offshoots (K-1, Frankie J, DJ Kane).

The duo has also put its sonic signature on recordings by a host of other acts, including newcomers La Pura Neta and Volumen X, which are signed to their Brown Boi Entertainment label.

"Myself and Cruz are the two people that made Kumbia Kings happen," Quintanilla says. "Cruz is as much Kumbia Kings as I am. Kumbia Kings doesn't exist without that teamwork."

Quintanilla notes that guitarist Chris Perez, Selena's widower, is also a core group member.

Martínez, the quieter member of the Kumbia Kings, is used to the more boisterous Quintanilla being in the limelight.

"I guess that's because I spend half my life in the studio, and a studio is an isolated area," says Martínez, who first met Quintanilla when he was 16 years old. Back then, Quintanilla already played bass for Selena and Los Dinos, and Martínez played keyboards with a group called La Sombra. Both groups often toured together.

From the onset, Martínez was a gadget and computer enthusiast who spent hours in electronics stores reading the manuals for keyboards and computers and learning how to work the equipment right there and then.

"I didn't have the money to buy the stuff, so they would let me learn in the store," he says. "Now, I've worked with every type of software that's out there."

Excerpted from the April 30, 2005, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to subscribers.

For information about ordering a copy of the issue, click here.