In Western Music, the Latin music scene seems to be the one that gets overlooked the most often. While many stars crossover into English-speaking markets, some of the best don’t ever need to. In this article, we’ll go over 25 of the best Hispanic singers to ever pick up a mic.
The Queen of Tejano music is easily one of the most celebrated Mexican-American artists of all time. Her influence in music and fashion rocketed her to fame, bringing the Tejano genre into the mainstream music world.
It all started when she won Female Vocalist of the Year from the Tejano Music Awards, which she won nine consecutive times. Selena would continually top charts in her career for both albums and singles, with hits like Como la Flor and No Debes Jugar. Unfortunately, the star’s career which would see her sell over 18 million records worldwide, would be cut short when she was murdered by a former manager.
After her death, several movies and documentaries were made of Selena’s life, including the 1997 Warner Bros. film Selena, that cast Jennifer Lopez as Selena.
2. Ricky Martin
The King of Latin Pop may just be the most influential Hispanic artist in the world. Ricky Martin is a worldwide sensation, blending Latin music into nearly every other genre you can think of. Some of his biggest hits include She Bangs and Livin’ La Vida Loca, both of which I would find it hard to believe you haven’t heard at least once.
Martin has sold well over 70 million records worldwide and won over 200 awards, including two Grammy Awards, five Latin Grammy Awards, and numerous Latin music awards. In addition to being a successful solo artist, Martin is also an actor, starring in the soap opera General Hospital, and an active social advocate for LGBT rights and human trafficking victims.
The Colombian sensation Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll took the world by storm with hits like Hips Don’t Lie, Loca, and Whenever, Wherever. Shakira stands as a pioneer of Latin music whose contributions to the genre have expanded its influence and popularity. Recording nearly 150 songs, Shakira has sold over 80 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time. Her talent as a singer is evidenced by her role as a coach on The Voice for two seasons and her numerous awards.
4. Enrique Iglesias
By the end of the 90s, Enrique Iglesias was the best-selling Spanish-language artist of the decade. In the 2000s, he crossed over into the English market, signing a massive deal with Universal Music Group.
Five of his songs have reached the top five of the Billboard Hot 100, with 27 songs reaching number one on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart. On top of an amazing singing career, Iglesias is a prolific songwriter, working alongside the likes of Jeniffer Lopez, Clay Aiken, and Andrea Bocelli.
5. Gloria Estefan
This Cuban-American singer would earn three Grammy Awards, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and be named one of the Top 100 Artists of all time by both Billboard and VH1. Gloria Estefan’s 75 million worldwide record sales place her as one of the best-selling female artists of all time, carried by the popularity of songs like Get On Your Feet and Don’t Wanna Lose You. When it comes to female Hispanic singers, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better voice than Gloria Estefan’s.
6. Jennifer Lopez
J.Lo is known for a lot of things. Her marriage to Ben Affleck, her incredible acting career, and her music. A veritable pop icon, Lopez would dance into people’s hearts with sensational hits like Jenny From the Block. She’s one of the most successful entertainers of all time, with over 80 million record sales, an established and rich acting career, and numerous business ventures.
Thalia is a Mexican singer and actress who’s racked up over 25 million worldwide record sales. In addition to singing in her native language of Spanish, she’s able to sing in English, French, Portuguese, and Tagalog. Billboard listed her in their Greatest Latin Artists of All Time in 2020, and her work in the music industry has earned her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In addition to her music career, Thalia is a champion of humanitarian causes and has worked as a UNICEF Mexico Ambassador since 2016.
8. Carlos Santana
In addition to being an outstanding Hispanic singer, Carlos Santana is also one of the best guitarists in history. Rolling Stone listed him at number 20 on their 2015 list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists. Santana’s blend of rock and roll and Latin American jazz music won him ten Grammy Awards and a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You’ll recognize his voice from songs like Black Magic Woman and Maria Maria.
9. Plácido Domingo
Plácido Domingo is a Spanish opera singer who’s recorded over 100 complete operas and performs in a wide variety of languages in some of the most high-profile opera houses in the world. In addition to opera, Domingo has worked in pop and Latin music, selling over four million copies of his duet single with John Denver.
10. Julio Iglesias
Julio Iglesias (the father of Enrique Iglesias) is one of the most successful Spanish singers, selling over 100 million records worldwide. His music has been recorded in 14 languages, and he’s been honored around the world as one of the most popular international singers. His record of awards is long, with the Grammys, Latin Grammy, Billboard Music, and lo Lo Nuestro Awards all honoring him with awards at various points in his career.
11. Alejandro Sanz
Known as an incredible guitarist and singer, Alejandro Sanz is famous for combining flamenco music with pop, rock, and jazz. In 2005, Sanz collaborated with Shakira on La Tortura, which held the number one spot on a few different worldwide charts. In total, he’s released more than ten studio albums, each to fairly good reception.
12. Celia Cruz
Celia Cruz would become one of the most popular Latin singers of the 20th century. The naturalized Cuban-American is an inductee into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame, received numerous awards, and even three honorary doctorate degrees. She found early success in the group Sonora Matancera before breaking away and performing as a solo act. You can listen to much of her music online, with singles like Gracia Divina and Te Busco.
Originally spending time with the Colombian rock band Ekhymosis, Juan Esteban Aristizabal Vasquez would eventually break out on a solo career and sell over 15 million records worldwide. His total career accolades include 20 Latin Grammy Awards, three Grammy Awards, and several top-charting singles. In addition to a successful music career, Juanes is known for his humanitarian work with victims of antipersonnel mines in his home country of Colombia.
Armando Christian Perez is hard to leave from any list of the best Hispanic singers. The American rapper Pitbull (or Mr. Worldwide, if you know, then you know) has been one of the most popular music artists since 2000. His album releases have earned him 25 million sales worldwide. Still, the singles sales have netted over 100 million sales, with numerous appearances alongside other big pop names like Kesha, J.Lo, and Christina Aguilera.
15. Prince Royce
Prince Royce’s greatest hits include tracks like Stuck On A Feeling, Stand By Me, and Back It Up, but his work is more than just English pop music with other artists. His own albums have seen him earn several Latin Grammy nominations and take the top spot on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart on a few different occasions. To experience the true Latin-music style of Royce, check out singles like Las Cosas Pequenas and Darte un Beso.
16. Willie Colon
Combining salsa music with rock and jazz allowed Willie Colon to become one of the biggest stars in salsa music, selling over 30 million records in the genre. When you talk about the OGs, Willie Colon was one of them, as he was one of the first to pose as a gangster on his album covers. A pioneer in salsa music, Colon earned numerous awards as a trombone player, was named one of the 30 Most Influential Latin Artists of All Time by Billboard, and has served as the Chair of the Association of Hispanic Arts.
17. Romeo Santos
Romeo Santos originally spent time as the lead vocalist for the Adventura, a bachata group playing a style of music that originated in the Dominican Republic as a blend of western music styles. His solo career would see Santos produce seven number-ones on the Hot Latin Songs Chart and 17 on the Tropical Songs charts, selling 40 million albums and 100 million singles worldwide. Obsession was probably Aventura’s most popular song, while Santos’s career as a solo act would produce singles like Promise, Propuesta Indecente, and Imitadora.
18. Tito Puente
Tito Puente would spend his 50-plus-year career composing some of the greatest mambo and Latin jazz dance tunes we’ve ever seen. Oye Como Va would become his biggest and most popular hit song, but his influence would help bring Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sounds to mainstream markets. The mambo, son, and cha-cha-cha all rose to popularity in Western markets almost solely because of Puente. He was honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, performed at the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics, and received the Billboard Latin Music Lifetime Achievement Award.
19. Marc Anthony
The top-selling tropical salsa artist of all time, Marc Anthony, is best known for his Latin salsa numbers and ballads. When it comes to the Billboard Tropical Airplay charts, he’s the undisputed king, with 35 songs holding the number one spot. Three Grammy Awards and six Latin Grammy Awards don’t tell his whole story, though. Marc Anthony is also a successful actor and avid philanthropist.
20. Luis Miguel
When your nickname is the Sun of Mexico, you’ve done pretty well for yourself. Luis Miguel recorded only in Spanish but became the best-selling Latin music artist of the 90s, making him the only singer of his generation not to cross over into English markets). Pop songs, ballads, tangos, jazz, and mariachi are all within the man’s repertoire, selling over 60 million records worldwide.
21. Rubén Blades
Winner of ten Grammy Awards and twelve Latin Grammy Awards, Ruben Blades is an icon within Panama and Latin America. Blades was so popular in Panama that when he ran for the presidency of the country, he was able to earn 17% of the vote despite little to no political experience. His numerous hit songs include the likes of Pedro Navaja and El Cantante.
22. Daddy Yankee
While reggaeton was popular in Latin markets, it wasn’t until Daddy Yankee released Gasolina that it was brought onto the world stage. He’s also responsible for the hit song Despacito, which received over seven billion YouTube views, second only in total views to the song Baby Shark. Daddy Yankee is one of the most influential Hispanic artists of the 2000s. Though he did officially retire from music, his legacy will live on and influence artists for generations.
23. Ritchie Valens
Ritchie Valens only had an eight-month music career before he died in a plane crash, but he was a pioneer of American rock and a progenitor of the Chicano rock movement. His best-known hit has to be La Bamba, but you may also recognize him from Donna.
24. Juan Gabriel
Juan Gabriel would establish himself as a Mexican pop icon with songs like Amor Eterno, Hasta Que te Conoci, and Querida. His music catalog as a singer and songwriter would see him pen over 1,800 songs and net him around 60 million worldwide record sales.
25. Gustavo Cerati
When it comes to Argentine rock and the entire Ibero-American rock scene, you can’t leave out Gustavo Cerati. His work with Soda Stereo made them one of the most important rock and pop groups of the 80s and 90s, earning them the first-ever MTV (Latin America) Legend Award.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.