Ten years ago, 5-year-old Luis Vázquez stepped onto a stage in Puerto Rico as the lead singer of Los Bravitos de la Plena, a children’s music group that included seven other members and was founded by Vázquez’s father, who is also a musician.
“All my life I have been surrounded by music. Since I was little, we used to sing during the holidays parrandas“says the 15-year-old salsa singer who started his career singing plena, a folk genre born in Puerto Rico powered by hand drums, or panderetas in Spanish. “I grew up with plena, which is a bit like salsa, so for me switching to salsa now isn’t really a major change.
After being part of Los Bravitos from age 5 to 14, Vázquez parted ways with the group to focus on his career as a solo salsa singer. In February, he released his first album, Comienzos, which includes the chart-topping track “Tu Fan,” an urban-infused salsa anthem that scored Vazquez his first No. 1 on any Billboard graphic. The track currently tops the Tropical Airplay chart (dated July 3). At 15, the Puerto Rican becomes the youngest soloist to reach the top since the start of the charts in October 1994.
“All my life I’ve dreamed of growing up as a singer, so when I had the opportunity to step up to salsa as a soloist, my parents and I agreed it was for the best,” he said. “It’s a new world for me, but I want to keep growing and experimenting.”
Since the fall Comienzos, he followed the Billboard charts, checking every night before bed to see if any of his songs had entered the charts. "When I saw 'Tu Fan' hit number three, I thought it was already huge and I was proud. But earlier this week, my phone started blowing up one morning and when I checked, my whole family and team had been texting me saying we were number 1. My heart was full and I started crying. This is a major achievement.
Vázquez, who enjoys spending time with his family in his spare time, is one of the few young salseros of this generation making waves in the industry. With reggaeton and trap still among the top genres to this day, Vázquez believes young artists lean towards what's popular.
“Because they're caught up in trends, they don't see other genres like salsa. This is one of the main reasons why we decided to go this route. And I know I'm not the only one, but there aren't many of us. We want to see more young artists singing salsa. We hope that my story will serve as an inspiration to future artists.
See you this week Billboard Latin artist on the rise below:
Last name: Luis Vázquez
Major Achievement: To participate in my very first Día Nacional de la Zalsa event in Orlando. It is one of the biggest events for salsa singers and to have been able to sing there is simply amazing. Also, to be #1 on Billboard, I still don't understand this.
Recommended song: "Tu Fan" because it's a really refreshing song and also very catchy. It's a nice fusion between salsa and urban, which gives it a different twist and makes it unlike anything out there.
And after: Keep recording more music, and specifically recording more salsa in all its facets. From hardcore and traditional salsa to something like "Tu Fan" which has an urban twist.