The news of five nominations for the next edition of the Latin Grammys proved once again the award-winning Puerto Rican composer Yoel Henríquez the importance of being faithful to his style.
The romantic touch of its lyrics has managed to captivate for just over two decades through songs popularized by figures such as Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Chayanne, Jerry Rivera, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Ednita Nazario, Sebastián Yatra, Fonseca and Milly Quezada, among others. a long list of performers who have given voice to a songbook of over 400 songs.
The formula that leans towards compositions of love and heartbreak remains, which applauds. The artist competes in the song of the year categories with For my girls (Christina Aguilera), best regional song with When i want it (Christian Nodal and Christina Aguilera), best tropical song for party with you (Luis Figueroa), album of the year for Aerie and album of the year with Traveler (Fonseca) in the 23rd installment to be held on November 17 in Las Vegas.
“There was a time when the romantic theme was not being consumed so much,” he mentioned in a telephone interview from Miami, Florida, where the artist from Caguas lives. “I had ten, eleven consecutive years that I always had nominations. For a little while here there was like a pothole, like two years in which I didn’t (I had). It was precisely at that time that I tried to adapt myself a little more to what was happening and not to what I liked at the level of lyrics, that they were simpler, very light. On a musical level, there wasn’t much depth,” recalled the two-time winner of the Latin Grammy and 14 ASCAP awards. “Everything was like partying, partying, perreo, Parisian”, He recalled about the trend with which he did not feel fully comfortable.
“With the pandemic I put things into perspective a bit and said ‘I have to start doing what I know how to do well, lyrics that I’m proud of, and then the rest will come,’ and that’s how it happened.”
The audience again began to support the new proposals in which the romantic content once again monopolized interest. “Fortunately, he is returning a little more to the musical slope, again a little more depth in the lyrics,” the Latin Songwriters Hall Of Fame nominee in 2019 expressed with satisfaction.
In addition to the ballad, Henríquez has written for various musical genres including salsa, merengue, pop, regional Mexican and urban, which is why he continually becomes very studious in matters of music.
“One that was very popular this year was with Wisin and Camilo, who is called Hello, and precisely that is a romantic song made with beat of reggaeton and mixed with pop”, he highlighted pleased. “Each genre has its peculiarities and characteristics. I try to study that quite well and that’s why I’ve been lucky enough to be able to make songs that have gone far in each genre”.
Working for the renowned performer Christina Aguilera for the first time for her recent album adds to his experience as a songwriter. “It was an invitation from Sony Music because she wanted to go back to her roots and sing in Spanish, and they invited us to participate. We were with several colleagues, several weeks, working for her.
Looking back, he is pleased with the solid track record he has achieved since Jerry Rivera, with the song ChickIn 1997, he became the first vocalist to perform one of his songs. Panamanian singer-songwriter Omar Alfanno influenced Henríquez to become known in this field at a time when she had aspirations to excel as a singer.
“I had a lot of songs to myself because my original interest was singing. So he listens to me one day in a studio, he knows me, he starts listening to my music. He and I tried to make an album at that time, about salsa, which was super trendy. People in salsa have impressed me a lot, but the truth is, I don’t have the soul of a sonero, let’s say. That part doesn’t suit me so well”, confessed the also pianist.
But his aspirations in music remained latent. “(Alfanno) tells me ‘but your songs sound incredible and it would be good if you start moving them, why don’t you do that while, while the other thing comes to you?'”, he recalled about the advice that gave a turn to his professional life at a time when he was working as a publicist. “That’s how I started, with the luck that it was immediate. I started sending the songs and they started recording. After Jerry Rivera, the second one who recorded me that same year was Gilberto Santa Rosa and then Olga Tañón”.
The practice that has gained momentum for a few years now, of including a long list of names as composers of the same theme, is a dynamic that does not please Henríquez for not being a real scenario on many occasions.
“Before it was a different time. I wrote alone. Now the dynamic is not like that, ”she lamented. “Half of those people didn’t write anything on the song. It is something that makes many of us quite uncomfortable and we need to raise our voices about it, ”she exposed with disappointment. “I think that happened because with the change of genre, let’s say more popular, they brought many customs that came from other genres that were not the mainstreamLet’s say”, he explained without specifying what musical rhythm he is referring to.
“For example, the managerssome get into what they call the splits of the songs and take some percentage”, he expressed. “There are artists who do write, but others who don’t, and those who don’t, also sometimes put themselves as composers to collect a piece of the royalties.”
Even in the production phase, the song can pass through different hands, which does not mean that it deserves songwriting credit. “A song is sent already made. A person, simply for being in the team of, let’s say, ‘x’ or ‘y’ artist, remakes the musical arrangement, that has always been known and that does not carry a percentage of authorship, (although) it does carry a monetary compensation, but in these times, those people also enter the splitand that’s why you see that at the moment there are 15 composers, but the truth is, there are probably three or four”.
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Yoel Henríquez validates interest in romance with his Latin Grammy nominations