In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Billboard’s Latin editors will share their personal HHM playlist with readers through Oct. 15. Jessica Roiz, assistant editor – Latin, shares hers today.
As a first-generation born in the U.S. to Nicaraguan parents, I have always been connected to my roots. I eat, sleep and breathe Nicaragua even if I’m miles away. I was 3 years old, back in 1989, when I visited the Central American country for the first time. The natural beauty, waking up to the sound of roosters at 6 a.m., the humility of its people — it was love at first sight.
Traveling to Nicaragua every year became a family tradition and it was throughout the years that I discovered its captivating and promising music scene.
Most notably, Luis Enrique, positioning himself as “the Prince of Salsa” as one of the leading forces of the romantic salsa movement of the ‘80s and ‘90s. His timeless hits such as “Así Es La Vida,” “Tu No Le Amas, Le Temes” and “Yo No Se Mañana,” amongst others, have all entered the Billboard charts, and his 2009 album Ciclos nabbed the Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Album.
Luis comes from one of the country’s biggest musical families, including the iconic singers (and his uncles) Luis Enrique Mejia Godoy and Carlos Mejia Godoy, both of whom were pivotal in the New Song Movement in Central America of the 1970s. Carlos also helped propel Nicaragua’s folk music on an international map. His song “Quincho Barrilete,” performed by Eduardo Gonzalez, won at the OTI Festival in 1977. His “Son Tus Perjumenes Mujer” has been interpreted by many artists, including Los Tigres del Norte and Lupillo Rivera. In 2016, he was honored with the Latin Grammy Trustees Award.
Singer-songwriter Hernaldo Zuñiga is also one of Nicaragua’s musical exports, having represented the country at renowned festivals including OTI and Viña del Mar. He resides in Mexico and has composed music for some of Latin pop’s biggest names including Mijares, Yuri, and Pandora.
If Luis Enrique, the Mejia Godoy’s, and Zuñiga — in addition to Adan Torres, who penned Jose Jose’s “Almohada” — are any indication, Nicaragua’s exuberant music industry, which includes folk, Palo de Mayo, rock, chicheros, urban and more, is a diamond in the rough.
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, below are 10 emblematic Nicaraguan songs that are forever part of my DNA.
“Nicaragua, Nicaraguita,” Carlos Mejia Godoy, Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy
“La Mora Limpia,” Justo Santos
“Autobiografia,” Luis Enrique
“Poneloya,” Los Hermanos Cortez
“Dale Una Luz,” Duo Guardabarranco
“Se Rompen Los Fuegos,” La Nueva Compañía
“Tululu,” Dimension Costeña
“Como Te Va Mi Amor,” Hernaldo Zuñiga
“Cuando Ella Baila,” Mokuanes
“Suenan los Tambores,” Los Hermanos Cortez