At this year’s Grammy Awards, there were few departures from the usual parade of Top 40 American pop acts dominating the telecast. But one of these was lightly bearded Colombian rock star Juanes—his denim shirt unbuttoned a little, a guitar slung around his chest—performing completely en español. Juanes’s appearance represented the music industry’s acknowledgment, however belated, of a growing audience for Spanish-language artists, who are increasingly finding their way to sold-out American arenas and onto the Spotify playlists of English-language listeners. Which is why, in a city that’s almost 40 percent Latino, you can expect huge crowds this month, when not one, not two, but three superstars of Latin music play Toyota Center concerts.
They are, in order of appearance, rocker Marco Antonio Solis (Aug 7) and accordion-infused norteño singer Julion Alvarez (Aug 22), both from Mexico, followed by Puerto Rican pop star Chayanne (Aug 27). At least one of the three, Alvarez, is no stranger to large crowds here. In 2013, his Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo concert had bigger attendance numbers than anyone else’s.
“Houston is the perfect place for this music wave because of it being such a huge melting pot,” says Mega 101 radio personality Cindy Burbano, a Venezuela native. In addition, “people are connecting instantly and discovering these new—well, to them they’re new—artists and bands through things like Pandora and YouTube, and then they’re getting out to see these singers live.”
In the past, performers like Romeo Santos—who performed in front of a massive adoring crowd at Toyota Center in June—and Ricky Martin owed their massive success in part to crossover efforts, by recording music in English and touring with English-speaking singers. Such efforts are no longer necessary, it seems, at least not in Houston. Indeed, in each of the past five years, Spanish-language headliners have set Rodeo attendance records, most recently Mexico’s La Arrolladora Banda El Limón, which played to a crowd of 75,357 on Go Tejano Day.
“We’re seeing a more varied Latin influence in music appreciation today and it’s showing here in our own city,” says Burbano. “Listening to this diverse music is like going back to our roots, and I think that’s what listeners here in America, especially in Houston, connect with.”
For tickets, call 1-866-446-8849 or visit houstontoyotacenter.com.