Then: After studying music in Toronto and finding success in Mexico, the Venezuelan-born pop singer-songwriter won over members of the Latin Recording Academy with her soul-baring verses, acoustic guitar skills, and tender voice, as heard on her self-titled 2010 debut and its follow-up, Mi Burbuja.
Now: After touring with fellow venezolanos Los Amigos Invisibles in the U.S. in 2015, she’s in the studio with Colombian producer, composer and pianist Julio Reyes Copello (Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Alejandro Sanz), hard at work on her upcoming third album.
Gaby Moreno (2013)
Then: It was clear that the Guatemalan singer/songwriter was destined for stardom, after her collaboration on Ricardo Arjona's “Fuiste Tu” in 2011. Her ethereal voice and bluesy, jazzy sound evoked a past era, but it found its place in the contemporary pop scene.
Now: Moreno is currently touring in Europe. Last year, she released her fourth album Postales, and recently collaborated with Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Tommy Torres on his song “Ven.”
Then: Three kids from Monterrey, Mexico (Erick Rincon, DJ Otto, and Sheeqo Beat) took tribal guarachero -- a fusion of cumbia and EDM that was bubbling in the local nightclub scene -- and made it a global movement. Their breakout single “Inténtalo,” off their collab-friendly debut album of the same name, had everyone dancing to a new beat in 2012.
Now: In 2014, they collaborated with Becky G for the bilingual party-starting single “Quiero Bailar (All Through The Night),” off their sophomore album, Global, proving tribal fever is still going strong.
Then: In 2011, David Rodríguez Labault (Sie7e) dropped his third album, the acoustic pop/rock collection, Mucha Cosa Buena, which includes his biggest hit to date, “Tengo Tu Love.” The latter helped him cinch the best new artist trophy that year.
Now: Rodriguez is currently touring Latin America and the U.S. promoting his latest album, Relax: Relaxed Edition.
Alex Cuba (2010)
Then: The Cuban-Canadian singer-songwriter grew up around music. His father was a guitar player and music teacher who taught Cuba how to play at an early age. Later, he formed a duo with his brother, before embarking on a solo career. Cuba’s debut album, 2004’s Humo de Tabaco, had jazz, pop, funk, Latin and African influences, and featured Corinne Bailey Rae among its guests. In 2009, he collaborated with Nelly Furtado on her album, Mi Plan, which helped get him noticed by the Latin Recording Academy.
Now: He’s currently touring in support of his latest album, Healer, which is nominated as best singer-songwriter album at this year’s Latin Grammys. Cuba is also nominated for best tropical song as a co-songwriter on Luis Enrique’s “Ya Comenzó.”
Alexander Acha (2009)
Then: Born in Mexico, Acha is the son of '80s crooner Emmanuel. He was introduced to audiences on tour with his dad and duetted with him on the DVD of his father's wildly successful 2007 release Retro en Vivo. The Latin Grammy nomination came after Acha released his debut pop album Voy, with touches of ‘80s and Italian pop. It featured the piano-laced breakout ballad “Te Amo.”
Now: Acha still regularly performs throughout Mexico, but hasn’t released new music since his debut. Judging by his Twitter page, he’s in the studio working on new material.
Kany Garcia (2008)
Then: A car accident derailed Garcia’s music career back in 2004, preventing her from appearing on Puerto Rico’s most popular reality singing competition, Objetivo Fama. But the Puerto Rican singer-songwriter forged her own path to success, pouring her soul into her music, and emerging with a critically acclaimed debut album, 2007’s Cualquier Dia.
Now: Garcia is currently working on her fourth studio album, to be released next year.
Jesse & Joy (2007)
Then: With a powerful voice like Joy Huerta’s, you’re bound to get noticed. Mexican duo Sin Bandera introduced Joy and her brother Jesse at a telethon in 2005 and the following year, Jesse & Joy released their shining debut album, Esta Es Mi Vida. They went on to win four more Latin Grammys after that in 2012, in recognition of their soulful pop album, ¿Con Quién Se Queda el Perro? Its heartrending single, “Corre,” is a cover favorite among millennial YouTubers.
Now: The duo is about to release Besitos de Amor on Dec .4, a new album boasting production from Fraser T. Smith (Adele, Sam Smith), Grammy winner Martin Terefe (who handled production on their previous album, ¿Con Quién Se Queda el Perro?), and Dominican legend Juan Luis Guerra, alongside Jesse. Guerra also duets with Joy on the title track, a beautiful, bachata-tinged tribute to their late father.
Calle 13 (2006)
Then: Half-brothers Rene Perez and Eduardo Cabra first became known for a kind of satirical “smart” reggaeton, exemplified by their early hit “Atrévete-Te-Te,” which invited indie rock fans to surrender to the urban tropical beat. The video for the song won best short form music video in 2006, the same year Calle 13 won the new artist category, as well as best urban music album for their self-titled debut. That year, Calle 13 started a record-breaking winning streak at the Latin Grammys.
Now: To date, the duo has won 21 awards, more than any other group, before announcing earlier this year that they were disbanding to move on to solo projects. They could still add two more statues to their collection at this year’s Latin Grammys, for two 2015 nominations in the best short form music video category.
Then: Bebe became an artist to watch and a voice for women’s rights when she burst out with her 2004 album Pafuera Telarañas. The singles “Mala” and “Ella” became anthems against domestic violence in the singer/songwriter’s native Spain and beyond. While Bebe’s punky persona was at the core of her appeal, she ultimately proved to be to be a little rough around the edges for mainstream Latin stardom: She’s sparred with the press and voiced her political views from the stage.
Now: With three subsequent albums, including the fall 2015 release Cambio de Piel, currently in the top ten in Spain, she’s solidified her career while keeping her socially conscious cred intact.
Maria Rita (2004)
Then: The Brazilian songstress seduced listeners -- Portuguese speaking and not -- with her 2003 eponymous debut. The album showcased her exquisite jazz vocal stylings and signaled the arrival of a voice that was here to stay. Music runs in Rita’s blood; she’s the daughter of one of Brazil’s most beloved singers, the late legend Elis Regina.
Now: Maria Rita is a Latin Grammys regular, with seven total wins. Her latest album, 2014’s Coracao a Batucar, saw her venture into more samba-oriented territory.
David Bisbal (2003)
Then: The Spanish heartthrob arrived on the scene in 2002 with a flamenco-infused pop sound perfectly suited for radio and leading-man looks. Breakout hit “Ave María” took Spain and Latin America by storm. The part-time actor took home the best new artist award in 2003, and went on to win two more Latin Grammys after that, song of the year for 2009’s “Aquí Estoy Yo” and best pop traditional vocal album for Una Noche en el Teatro Real, also in 2009. To date, he’s sold around 5 million albums and toured globally.
Now: Bisbal’s latest album was 2014’s Tú y Yo, and he’s still touring in support of it.
Jorge Moreno (2002)
Then: Signed to the Latin imprint of Madonna’s Maverick Records, Moreno was promoted as a sensation of the era’s Latin Pop Explosion even before the debut of his first album. But his success was short-lived, like the Maverick Musica label itself. Named the Latin Grammys' best new artist in 2002, Moreno called his sound at the time "tropical alternative hip-hop rock," which suggests that either he was a bit before his time, or he just lacked focus. He remains best known for a version of “Babalu” that he sang at a 2011 Victoria’s Secret fashion show, which is immortalized on YouTube.
Now: The Cuban American artist never made it to the stadium stages that now regularly host Latin superstars. But he is still singing. Moreno is known to take the mic with the house band at Moreno’s Cuba, the South Beach restaurant he opened in 2013.
Then: This Colombian turned heads with his debut solo album in 2000, Fíjate Bien, a standout rock en español effort which revealed the soul of a socially conscious rocker who wasn’t afraid to talk about real issues, such as Colombia’s mine victims. In the years to follow, his fame would skyrocket, thanks to uplifting, party-oriented albums like 2002’s Un Día Normal and 2004’s Mi Sangre, which fused Colombian folk with mainstream pop/rock.
Now: Arguably the most successful best new artist alum, Juanes has 21 Latin Grammys under his belt and has sold millions of albums around the world. He continues to win over audiences by spreading his message of love and peace, as witnessed during his most recent tour run in support of his latest studio album, Loco de Amor. But Juanes’ influence far transcends music. Earlier this year, the rock-star activist was invited to perform at the United Nations for World Humanitarian Day, then performed for Pope Francis during the Festival of Families in Philadelphia. All these years later, he’s still growing as a musician. In 2015, he collaborated with DJ Cedric Gervais on the pop/EDM duet “Este Amor.” This year, he’s also nominated for best long form music video for his “Loco de Amor: La Historia.”
Ibrahim Ferrer (2000)
Then: For its first new artist award in 2000, the Latin Academy chose a singer with a 50-year-career behind him. The charismatic Ibrahim Ferrer was already well known in Cuba, when in 1996 he was drafted to participate in the recording of the first Buena Vista Social Club album. Coming after the groundbreaking success of that Cuban recording, Ferrer’s new artist Latin Grammy was more of a tribute to musical diplomacy between the U.S. and Cuba than a realistic representation of Ferrer’s career trajectory.
Later: Ironically, in 2004 Ferrer won a Grammy for his solo work, but was denied a visa to attend the ceremony. The Cuban vocalist died in 2005 at age 78, having left his mark around the world.