10 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Ecuadorian Singers Of All Time

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Located on the Western coast of South America, Ecuador has long gained fame as a great tourist destination, a major petroleum exporter, and a premier producer of coffee and bananas. 

But, Ecuador produces more than delicious beans and fruits. Some of the most talented singers, past and present, have come from humble beginnings in the country of Ecuador. 

From Julio Jaramillo to Gabriela Villalba, talented singers have sprung from Ecuadorian roots and made their world mark. It’s hard to narrow down the most famous Ecuadorian singers, but here are 10 that have made a lasting impression on the music industry. 

1. Julio Jaramillo

One of the most notable Ecuadorian singers was Julio Jaramillo. A native of Guayaquil, Ecuador, he was born Julio Alfredo Jaramillo Laurido in 1935.

He started playing with a homemade guitar as a child and soon became known for his soft, warm voice. As a teenager, he briefly started a trio with a couple of friends and performed at radio stations. It wasn’t until the 1950s that he gained more traction in his musical career.

Jaramillo’s first album debuted in 1954, and his popularity quickly grew from there. He was known for lovely duets and a unique voice that no one could replicate, producing numerous memorable songs including “A Mi Madre,” “El Aguacate,” and “Tu y Yo.” 

His fame even followed him out of Ecuador and all around South America. However, his career didn’t last as long as his fans would have hoped.

His tragic death at the age of 42 left a gaping hole in the world of Ecuadorian entertainment, and he will always be remembered as one of the greats. 

2. Olimpo Cárdenas

Born in Vinces, Ecuador, in 1923, Olimpo Cárdenas tragically lost both of his parents before he was five years old. Raised by his godmother, he quickly took to music and began pursuing it as more than just a hobby.

In 1951, he became part of a musical trio called Trío Emperor. However, the group disbanded, paving the way for Cárdenas to explore a solo career. Not soon after, he famously toured all around Colombia, almost more than Ecuador.

By the time he returned to Ecuador, he was already a star, creating hits such as “Our Pledge,” “Playita Mía,” and “Five Centavitos.” His popularity even traversed across the ocean when he performed in New York City in 1978.

With a unique style, he was quickly one of the most beloved Ecuadorian singers of the 20th century.

3. Mirella Cesa

Born in Guayaquil in 1984, Mirella Cesa is an award-winning Ecuadorian singer who some call the Mother of AndiPop or Andean pop music. With this distinction, her reputation precedes her wherever she goes. 

Cesa started singing for friends and family and performing in church on Sunday mornings. She quickly learned to play guitar before heading to the United States to pursue a musical career.

Her determination led to her debut album in 2006 titled Mirella Cesa. Her music has graced the radio waves of international stations ever since, and her tours have made her one of the better-known Ecuadorian singers of the day.

4. Gabriela Villalba

Born in the capital city of Quito, Gabriela Villalba is sometimes known by her stage name of Gaby de K.

She was once a member of two different bands, Kiruba and Kudai. She commemorated these musical milestones in her stage name.

Villalba got her start singing with Kiruba after being discovered on an Ecuadorian talent search show. Her career fizzled briefly, and she tried her hand at acting. She rose to fame after that, and her personality and vocal ability have made her a star in Ecuador.

By 2005, she had jumped back into music and released her first solo album, Todo Bien. Some of her memorable hits include “Tantos Besos,” “Quisiera,” and “Soñaré.”

It was a year after her solo debut that she joined the band Kudai as the vocalist.

5. Sharon la Hechicera

Arguably the best-known Ecuadorian singer and cultural icon of all time, Sharon la Hechicera was born in Guayaquil, Hechicera, and was interested in music her entire life.

At only eight years old, she has been winning at inter-school festivals. However, she didn’t pursue a musical career right away to honor the preferences of her mother. However, this did not stop her passion for singing.

In 1998, she released her first album using her own money. Her hard work paid off, and soon, she became a singing sensation with her songs “Poco a Poco,” “Amarguras,” and “La Caprichosa.”

Her fame also stretched beyond the borders of Ecuador to international lands, and her extensive career made her a beloved figure in various industries.

She made waves in industries other than music as well. She launched her lingerie line, worked as a music producer, and was even an actress for a time. However, her blooming career was cut short, and her tragic death in 2015 marked a sad day in Ecuador’s history. 

6. Gerardo

Sometimes called the Latin Elvis, Gerardo is one of the best-known Ecuadorian artists of the modern era. Born in Guayaquil, he moved to California before beginning his musical career.

Gerardo is known for his rapping, although he started as a film actor. But his passion for music overpowered his desire to act, and he released his first studio album in 1991.

With his hit single from that album, he rode the waves of his popularity for a few years before taking his life in a completely different direction.

Gerardo became an ordained pastor in Kentucky, no longer releasing records, where he and his family still reside. 

7. Danilo Parra

Although not much is known of Danilo Parra’s past, his future contains a successful career of creating excellent music beloved by Ecuadorians and Colombians alike. 

Parra was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, although his heritage can be traced to Colombia, Italy, and Spain. 

His career launched in 2002, and it wasn’t long before he won new artist awards and made his name known around Ecuador. His singing and guitar skills have made him one of Ecuador’s favorite artists. 

Parra released a hit single called “Preciosa” in 2004, which went on to earn him an Ecuadorian national title of Artist of the Year.

Although his last album was released in 2014, his music still resonates up to this day.

8. Carlota Jaramillo

Born María Isabel Carlota Jaramillo in Calacalí in 1904, Jaramillo took the stage name of Carlota Jaramillo and came to be known as the Queen of National Song. 

Jaramillo came from a musical family, exposed to the beauty of song her entire life. It was hence no surprise when she took to music as her own career. 

Her first record was released in 1938 after winning a songwriting competition in Quito, Ecuador. Her subsequent albums led to a series of hit singles that turned her into one of Ecuador’s national treasures. 

After she died in 1987, all of Ecuador mourned her passing. She was buried in true Ecuadorian fashion, with all honors available to her. 

9. Olga Gutiérrez

Born in Quimilí, Argentina, Olga Gutiérrez grew up around music her entire life, and her love for it grew as her family showed her more. She began singing at 18 and never looked back.

She traveled all around South America before the Ecuadorian government hired her to sing in honor of Prince Philip of Great Britain. 

Gutiérrez continued to travel the Western Hemisphere, becoming a renowned pasillo singer. By 2004, she became a nationalized Ecuadorian.

However, after losing her leg to diabetes in 2008, Gutiérrez died from the same disease in 2015, ending her long career.

10. Pamela Cortes

Guayaquil native Pamela Cortes was born in 1981 and jumped into her study of music as early as possible. At age seven, she was already juggling several talents at once, being a singer, dancer, and actress.

However, Cortes didn’t rise to fame as a singer right away. She got her start, hosting a reality television show in Ecuador. A year later in 1994, she released her first album and her second in 1996. Some of her hit singles include “La Mariposa y el Caracol” and “Emergencia De Amor.” 

After a successful start in the Ecuadorian music scene, she traveled to the United States to expand her studies and find new opportunities. 

Her last album was released in 2011, and she is currently focusing on her TV personality career.

Wrapping Up Our List Of Talented Singers From Ecuador

Since the earliest days of the 1900s, Ecuador has been the birthplace of some of the world’s loveliest singers and artists.

The nation continues to create and support talented musicians who make the music industry a better place, and we hope this list has made you appreciate their music even more.

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.