November 24, 2010

Latin Music's Leading Lady

By Erik Philbrook


As both an actress and a singer-songwriter, Mexico's LUCERO has played a starring role in Latin Culture's popularity around the world

At the age of 10, Lucero Hogazo León launched an acting career by taking on the name Lucerito and starring on the popular Mexican children's television series, Alegrías De Mediodía and Chiquilladas. With her vibrant personality and natural beauty, the young actress effortlessly inspired audiences to fall in love with her, and she quickly landed a starring role in the film Coqueta, alongside singer and actor Pedro Fernández. This also led to her being cast as the star of the telenovela Chispita and her first steps in becoming a recording artist.

In 1982 Lucero released her debut album, Él, an album intended to capitalize on her cutesy charm. Her next album, Magia, however, reflected a change in style and targeted a teen-oriented pop music audience. She gained her first real hit with "Fuego y Ternura" (written by singer-songwriter Prisma), and it was successful across both Mexico and Latin America.

Lucero was on a roll. While she continued her career as an actress, her music career soared. As her fan base continued to grow she released Lucerito (later re-released as Ocho Quince) in 1987. The album was a huge success. Yet, two years later, she released Cuéntame, and it became one of the most successful pop records of the end of that decade. That same year she also changed her professional name to Lucero and took on more adult acting roles on television. Her success continued on into the 90's with such chart-topping hits as "Veleta" in 1993, which held for five weeks at #1.

As the new millennium dawned, the actress and singer-songwriter gained critical acclaim and success for her dual careers. Among her popular albums during this time were Quiéreme Tal Como Soy in 2006 and her live album, Lucero En Vivo Auditorio Nacional, in 2008.

Her role in the current and highly successful telenovela remake, Soy Tu Dueña, made audiences hungry for more work from this beloved talent. She answered the call in October of this year by releasing a great new album, Indispensable. The album represents a big leap forward as most of the songs were written by Lucero herself. The result is a delicious combination of modern Mexican pop songs and ballads that represents the heart, soul and talent of one Latin America's most enduring and most unique artists.




How did you know the time was right to come out with a new record?

It has been more than three years since the release of my last live album and more than ten years since recording a studio album with new pop songs. I really wanted to experiment with new rhythms and create a current and innovative record. With the success of the soap opera, Soy Tu Dueña, I felt it was the perfect time to release a new album.

Do you use your acting roles as inspiration when writing new songs?

Yes, in fact, there is one song on the new album entitled "Dueña de Tu Amor." I wrote it thinking about the feelings of my character, Valentina, in the soap opera and what her feelings are about love. It's a love theme used throughout the telenovela for the couple Valentina and Jose Miguel, and I drew on their history together. But, the most important thing is that it is a love song that many people can identify with.

You wrote most of the songs on the new record. In what ways do you feel like you have grown the most as a writer?

I felt it was time to share some of the lyrics and poems I have written over the years. It is also a beautiful way to express my thoughts and feelings and be more connected to the songs I sing. I had the pleasure of collaborating with a group of very talented people who have had a lot of success and experience in the music industry. I am very proud of the results of our combined efforts.

What's your method of writing? Do you write every day?

I don't have a specific technique or routine for writing. When certain life experiences inspire me, I express myself with the words that come from my heart, in times of both happiness and sadness.

Who are your personal favorite songwriters?

In Mexico, we have a great writer of Mariachi music, José Alfredo Jiménez. Also, I like Joan Manuel Serrat from Spain, Pablo Milanés and Silvio Rodriquez from Cuba. I think Burt Bacharach is a genius and undoubtedly my favorite music is from The Beatles.

What inspires your songwriting?

After over 30 years in the entertainment industry and performing music written by others for me, I felt it was time to express myself through my own lyrics. I am inspired by life in general, love, smiles, my kids, everything around me that makes me feel the things I want to share with others.

What's your favorite song on the album and why?

I like all of them for different reasons. But, if I have to choose, I like "Eres Todo" and "Mucho Mas Que Dos" because they are about love and having special feelings for someone. I also feel that many people can identify with the lyrics of these songs.

"After over 30 years in the entertainment industry and singing music written by others forme, I felt it was time to expressmyself throughmy own lyrics."

The media loves to write about you. Does that affect your art? How do you deal with that?

I have been blessed with a long and rewarding career in the entertainment industry. The media plays an important role in the success of an artist. I appreciate the media's continued interest in following all of my projects. However, I have learned not to pay attention to the negative media that tries to spread rumors and misinformation. What is most important is the response of the public to my work. The high ratings for the soap opera here in America and many other countries, including my own, and the recent success of the new album is very rewarding to me.

You're a very popular figure in the Latin world. But now you are writing in English and Spanish. Do you feel that one language "sings" better than the other?

Sometimes I think it is easier to sing in English. There are more ways to modulate the vowels and rhyme the words. Spanish is very sweet but there isn't much variation in the pronunciation. It is an adventure for me to sing in English, because it is not my native language. I love to speak English, also, and it is the only other language I speak well.

Do you find that, more and more, audiences around the world are embracing new combinations of styles, cultures and languages in music?

Yes, definitely, and that's wonderful. Increasingly, people are more open to hearing different rhythms and styles. I remember when the theme song from the film Slumdog Millionaire was the most popular song around the world. That is what we as singers and composers are looking to achieve - crossing borders around the world with our music.

What themes are you most interested in exploring in your songs?

Definitely love and affection. Also, positive stories that put you in a good mood.

In your opinion, what are the common traits of all truly great songs?

I think the songs that have that special touch and that give you goose bumps are those that speak about things that people have experienced or want to experience in their lives. When we hear them we identify in some way with the stories they tell. Someone said that poetry is not for the writer but for the person who needs it. I think that music is like poetry in this way.