“I would hear it over and over again,” the Mexican singer-songwriter tells Billboard, who on Thursday (Dec. 16) released her duet “Amigos Con Derechos” with Mendonça, the 26-year-old Brazilian sertanejo star who passed away Nov. 5 in a tragic plane crash. “To hear her sing in Spanish was really special because it was something she wanted to do in her career, and she had just started taking Spanish classes.”
Originally featured in her Origen album, which became the first set she released as an independent artist in October, “Amigos Con Derechos” is a country-tinged pop track on finding the courage to get out of a toxic relationship. It was the perfect song to sing with Mendonça, says Dulce, as she often sang about female empowerment and connected with women through her lyrics.
“The song, which I wrote along with Marcela de La Garza in 2010, was very much her style, lyrically and musically,” adds the former RBD member. “Sertanejo is like country, and out of all the songs on my album, this one is the that has the most folk instruments.”
Dulce and Mendonça’s respective teams had been in talks since August about the collaboration, which was proposed by Dulce’s team. “I was doing collaborations in Brazil and I suggested doing something with a big local artist that had the same vibe as my album and they said, ‘Marília is the top, and the most loved artist in Brazil right now.’ So we sent a request and she said yes right away.”
Four days later, Mendonça sent her two separate recordings of the track: one in in Spanish and one in Portuguese. “When I heard her versions I thought, ‘Wow she really made this song hers.’ So, I went in and added my vocals and it was so weird to have spent so many hours singing with her in a duet when she’s not longer here. But I still felt this special connection, although we never got to meet or talk.”
Dulce and Mendonça were supposed to jump on a Zoom call to flesh out details, but due to their conflicting schedules, their busy lives as recording artists and mothers to toddlers, the pair never got around to speaking — much less recording a music video for the duet, which Mendonça was willing to go to Mexico to make happen.
When Dulce heard the news of her passing, “I was in total shock. I didn’t understand why this had happened. She had a 1-year-old, I have a 1-year-old. As a touring artist and a mother, this impacted me greatly. And it was difficult for me to process everything that had happened just months before she died.”
She looked for answers to questions she would never get. “I finally understood that she had left this unique gift. She was a huge fan of RBD and even a fan of my character Roberta on the telenovela Rebelde, so maybe she said yes because of that. She didn’t need to collaborate with me, she was at the peak of her career. So, it wasn’t only a professional move for her, there was also a personal motive.”
After speaking with her team to discuss whether or not the collab should be released, all parties agreed to share one of her latest collaborations with her fans.
“Amid all this pain, she left us this gift that I want to share with all the love in the world, respect and honor for her. I especially want to share this song with her fans, everyone that loved her. And everyone that had yet to discover her because she was a woman with a beautiful voice but even a more beautiful heart.”
Mendonça was on her way to perform in the city of Caratinga when her plane crashed. All five passengers, including the plane’s crew, lost their lives in the accident. With more than eight million listeners on Spotify and more than 22 million subscribers on YouTube, the folk singer-songwriter, who began writing songs at the age of 12, had become one of biggest exponents of popular Brazilian music.
Stream “Amigos Con Derechos” below: