Latin Music in Canada
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Latin Music in Canada
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    The introduction of Latin music in Canada began during the immigration waves of Hispanics into the country. The commercialization of Latin music emerged during the "Latin explosion" or "Latin invasion" of the 1990s after American Latinos began competing with Canadian recording artists and receiving music certifications issued by Music Canada. Since 1999, Latin musicians have gained popularity on radios, at nightclubs, music festivals, and appearances on television in Canada.

    Latin music had its beginnings in Canada when Ferdinand Morton began touring the country as early as the 1910s. Tropical music became a popular genre among Canadians; singers Tito Puente, Willie Colón, and Rubén González popularized it in the country. Female salsa music singers such as Celia Cruz gained success in Canada after the rise of women in music genres dominated by men. Cuban pop singer Gloria Estefan, Spanish pop singer Julio Iglesias, and Tejano music performer Lydia Mendoza found success in Canada before the 1990s Latin music explosion.

    During the Latin music invasion of the 1990s, singers such as Selena, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, the Gipsy Kings, and the Buena Vista Social Club were among the most successful Hispanics in Canada. Buena Vista Social Club's self-titled debut album became the best-selling Latin album in Canada, having been certified triple platinum by Music Canada. During the 2000s decade, Latin music acts from Canada were recognized as with Alex Cuba who won a Juno Award for World Music Album of the Year in 2006 for his debut album. Canadian singer Nelly Furtado was inspired by Cuba to record a Spanish-language album in 2009; her album Mi Plan peaked number 20 on the Canadian Albums Chart, becoming the highest-charting Spanish-language album ever recorded by a Canadian artist.

    Styles of Latin music in Canada

    Canadian Latin music

    The Latin music scene in Canada began with the immigration of Hispanic people in Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, and Vancouver.[1] Because of the large immigration move to these cities, Billboard magazine called this a "huge potential" for the popularity of Latin music in Canada.[1] It wasn't until the 1994 FIFA World Cup Final, where Hispanics took to the streets of Toronto dancing to Latin music, that inspired record companies to begin commercializing and marketing Latin music in Canada.[1] The marketing of Latin albums began shortly afterwards with Sony Music Canada, Warner Music Canada, and Sunrise Records at select outlets.[1] Shortly afterwards, Sunrise Records sponsored Viva¡ Musica, a four-night Latin music show on the Canadian TV channel TeleLatino.[1] A report published by Billboard magazine showed that unsigned Latin music acts in Canada were easily selling thousands of copies by 1995.[2] Since at least 1999, Hispanic artists have gained popularity at nightclubs, radio airplay, festivals, and TV appearances.[1] Latin music albums were once only localized in Toronto and Montreal where music companies and shops exclusively marketed Latin music towards Hispanic consumers.[1] They believed that in order to promote sales of Spanish-language albums among Canadians, Hispanics would be the first targeted group to build commercial success.[1]

    Canadian music group Criollo, who record a bahire-style of bachata music which they coined,[3] began recording their style of bachata music in 2006.[4] The quintet band took part in the Rhythms of the World Festival and the International Merengue Festival held in Montreal.[4] Born in Cuba, Alex Cuba started off recording music after emigrating to British Columbia and formed the Alex Cuba Band there.[5] The band's debut album in 2006 earned them a Juno Award for World Music Album of the Year.[5] With the support of Cuba who helped in the writing process, Canadian singer Nelly Furtado released her first Latin album Mi Plan in 2009.[6] Randy Lennox of Universal Music Canada informed Billboard that they would be treating the release of Mi Plan as a "major release" similar to the marketing strategy used with Furtado's English-language albums.[6] The album debuted and peaked at number 20 on the Canadian Albums Chart.[7]

    Latin American music in Canada

    The earliest Latin music musician who gained fame in Canada was Ferdinand Morton, who toured throughout Canada beginning in the 1910s and popularized Latin jazz in the country.[8] Veteran musicians who later formed the Afro-Cuban All Stars in 1996, gained a following in Canada and brought Cuban salsa music to the country as early as the 1940s.[9] Other tropical music recording artists such as the Company Segundo, Cubanismo!, Rubén González, and Los Mocosos, had also became popular Latin acts in Canada.[1] Female salsa singers were not popular in Canada until the 1980s and 1990s, when the male-dominated salsa genre saw the rise of women playing the role as singers rather than dancers or listeners.[10]Celia Cruz became a popular salsa singer in Canada along with her male counterparts Tito Puente and Willie Colon.[1] Cuban pop singer Gloria Estefan also established her popularity in the country as well as Julio Iglesias during the 1980s.[1] Filmmaker Anthony Azzopardi documented the growing popularity of Latin music in Canada and released his findings in 1992's docu-film Latin Nights.[11]

    The earliest recorded history of Tejano music being played in Canada was from Lydia Mendoza, who performed at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 1971 in Montreal.[12] Mendoza continued to perform in Canada, where in 1985 she played in front of large crowds at theaters and music halls.[13] After Mendoza, Selena--who began dominating the Tejano music scene in America--was on the verge of crossing over into the American pop market and gained a following in Canada after her 1994 Amor Prohibido album was released.[14] The singer was shot and killed by her friend and former manager of her boutiques on March 31, 1995.[15] Her posthumously released album Dreaming of You (1995), peaked at number seventeen on the Canadian RPM Top Albums chart,[16] and was certified gold by Music Canada that December.[17]

    The 1990s "Latin explosion" brought the genre to the mainstream market in Canada. Beginning in 1999, Latin American music recording artists began selling platinum-certified albums--sales in excess of 100,000 units--in Canada including Selena's greatest hits album All My Hits/Todos Mis Exitos (1999), Ricky Martin's self-titled album, Jennifer Lopez's On the 6, and Buena Vista Social Club's 1997 debut album.[1] Buena Vista Social Club's self-titled album remains the best-selling Latin album in Canada, having been certified triple platinum for sales of 300,000 units.[18] Canadian music shops began stocking Latin music albums due to the mainstream success of Martin and Lopez.[1] Sales of Latin music among Canadian consumers increased substantially in 1999.[1] Georgia Tsao, international marketing manager of Warner Music Canada, said that because of Martin's commercial success in Canada "there's not a language barrier anymore". Martin's success in that country "springboarded" English and Spanish-language releases of Latin albums by Marc Anthony, Elvis Crespo, Shakira, Julio Iglesias, Jr., and Alejandro Fernandez.[1]

    By 2006, Ricky Martin sold 1.6 million copies in Canada alone.[19] On November 6, 2010, Colombian singer Shakira's ninth studio album Sale el Sol became the singer's first Spanish-language album to impact the Canadian Albums Chart; peaking at number eleven.[20] The album produced two top 40 singles, "Loca" and "Rabiosa".[21]

    Iberian Peninsula music in Canada

    Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias moved to Toronto for six months while recording his debut studio album in 1996.[22] Iglesias' ninth studio album Euphoria was released in July 2010 for which he embarked on a world tour that included Canada.[23] The album was certified gold for sales in excess of 40,000 units.[24]

    According to musicologist Ilan Stavans, Canadians enjoyed the morna musical styles of Portugal.[25]

    Noted Canadian artists

    As the hispanophone community in Canada is still relatively small compared to English or French speakers, the genre's prominence in Canada still derives more from the popularity of established international artists than from Canadian artists; however, a burgeoning number of Canadian artists have recorded and performed in Latin genres. This includes both artists who perform exclusively in traditional Latin, Spanish or Portuguese genres, and artists who blend Latin influences with other pop, rock or folk genres.

    List of certified Latin recordings in Canada

    Certified Latin albums in Canada
    Album Artist Record label Released Canadian Albums Chart Certification Units shipped Reference(s)
    Buena Vista Social Club Buena Vista Social Club World Circuit/Nonesu September 5, 1997 -- 3× Platinum 300,000 [18]
    Gipsy Kings Gipsy Kings Trans-Canada Disq November 14, 1988 -- 2× Platinum 200,000 [26]
    Greatest Hits Gipsy Kings Columbia International September 8, 1998 -- 2× Platinum 200,000 [26]
    Vuelve Ricky Martin Columbia Records February 10, 1998 11 2× Platinum 200,000 [27]
    Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer Buena Vista Social Club Nonesuch/Worldcircut June 8, 1999 -- Platinum 100,000 [18]
    All My Hits/Todos Mis Exitos Selena EMI Music Canada March 9, 1999 -- Platinum 100,000 [1]
    Dreaming of You Selena EMI Music Canada July 18, 1995 17 Gold 50,000 [28]
    Volare! The Very Best Of The Gipsy Kings Gipsy Kings Epic Records 1999 -- Gold 50,000 [26]
    Euphoria Enrique Iglesias Universal Republic Canada July 2, 2010 12 Gold 40,000 [24]

    See also


    1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p LeBlanc, Larry (12 June 1999). "Martin, Lopez Help Pick Up The Pace Of Canada's Latin Beat". Billboard. 111 (12): 41. Retrieved 2015.
    2. ^ Lannert, John (February 4, 1995). "Latin Notas". Billboard. 107 (5): 76. Retrieved 2016.
    3. ^ Stavans 2014, p. 231.
    4. ^ a b "Criollo Launches its Debut Album". Corriente Latina. Retrieved 2016.
    5. ^ a b Aguila, Justino (October 2, 2010). "Best New Artists". Billboard. 122 (39): 53. Retrieved 2016.
    6. ^ a b Wilson, Jen; Thompson, Robert (August 1, 2009). "Five Rings to Rule Them All". Billboard. 121 (30): 24. Retrieved 2016.
    7. ^ "Nelly Furtado > Canadian Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 2016.
    8. ^ Stavans 2014, p. 401.
    9. ^ Stavans 2014, p. 11.
    10. ^ Waxer 2013, p. 14.
    11. ^ Post 2013, p. 259.
    12. ^ Stavans 2014, p. 478.
    13. ^ Stavans 2014, p. 479.
    14. ^ Untiedt 2013, p. 127.
    15. ^ "October 12, 1995, the testimony of Norma Martinez". Houston Chronicle. October 12, 1995. Archived from the original on July 15, 2007. Retrieved 2015.
    16. ^ "Top 100 Albums > October 30, 1995". RPM. 62 (13). October 30, 1995. Retrieved 2015.
    17. ^ "Canadian album certifications - Selena - Dreaming of You". Music Canada.
    18. ^ a b c "Gold/Platinum Search > Buena Vista Social Club". Retrieved 2016.
    19. ^ "Selling Beyond Latin America". Billboard. 118 (48): 66. November 4, 2006. Retrieved 2016.
    20. ^ "Shakira- Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2013.
    21. ^ "Chart history > Shakira > Billboard Canadian Hot 100". Retrieved 2016.
    22. ^ Stavans 2014, p. 340.
    23. ^ Zymet 2013, p. 25.
    24. ^ a b "Gold/Platinum Search > Euphoria (Enrique Iglesias)". Retrieved 2016.
    25. ^ Stavans 2014, p. 606.
    26. ^ a b c "Gold/Platinum Search > Gipsy Kings". Retrieved 2016.
    27. ^ "Gold/Platinum Search > Vuelve (Ricky Martin)". Retrieved 2016.
    28. ^ "Gold/Platinum Search > Dreaming of You (Selena)". Retrieved 2016.


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