11 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Female Hispanic Singers

Last updated

Hispanic female singers are among the most renowned trailblazers in the music industry. From fusing different music styles to writing empowering lyrics intertwined with raw passion, they’ve inspired and entertained generations of fans and invited them to hit the dance floors.

The following are some of the greatest and most famous female Hispanic singers, so read on to learn more about them and what sets them apart as superstars, each in their own right.

1. Selena Quintanilla

She didn’t ever play a Super Bowl halftime show, and she didn’t sell bazillions of albums, but the mononymic Selena, the queen of Tejano music, remains one of the all-time Latinx stars. Most people believe the only reason she didn’t do those things is because she died at the age of 23.

Selena grew up in a musical family, fronting the family band by age 10. By age 19, she released her first solo album, “Ven Comigo,” the first Tejano album to sell more than 500,000 copies and go gold.

Her meteoric rise was cut short when the founder and president of her fan club murdered her in 1995.

2. Shakira

Born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll in Colombia in 1977, Shakira belly danced as a kid and dabbled in television acting before becoming a star in Latinx music. 

At the dawn of the 21st century, she turned to the American market, which she took by storm, earning four Grammy Awards in seven years.

While she’s had quite a few hits, her biggest came with “Hips Don’t Lie,” from her 2005 album “Oral Fixation, Vol. 2.” The song featured Wyclef Jean and has been streamed more than a billion times on Spotify alone.

3. Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez, also known as J Lo, was born in New York in 1970. Once she could walk and talk, she was on her way to becoming an icon. She’s made her mark in the world as one of those people who does it all and does it all well.

Her first significant exposure to the world came when she was 17 when she landed a spot as a Fly Girl dancer on the Wayans brothers’ comedy sketch show “In Living Color.” 

From there, she landed roles in small films before getting cast as the lead in a Selna biopic in 1997. She used that success to become a box office draw, but her work in that film reawakened her musical aspirations, and she began recording again.

A late-career appearance in the movie “Hustlers,” along with a side-by-side Super Bowl halftime show with Shakira showed the world that J Lo is still a force to be reckoned with.

4. Christina Aguilera

As one of the cast members of 1993’s “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club,” Christina Aguilera started out as a big deal. So did castmates Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears.

By 1999, the native New Yorker had scored a worldwide smash hit, “Genie in a Bottle.” She’s never really slowed down. Her appearance on the “Moulin Rouge” soundtrack widened her audience, and appearances in films and on TV shows like “The Voice” furthered her reach.

She has used her remarkably powerful voice to sell nearly 50 million records and win six Grammy Awards. Aguilera has two children and is a noted philanthropist, raising millions of dollars for worldwide hunger relief. 

5. Gloria Estefan

Born in Cuba in 1957, Gloria Estefan fled the Castro regime with her family when she was a toddler. Landing in Miami, she began making a name for herself on the local scene as a college kid when she sat in with a band called the Miami Latin Boys. 

Keyboardist Emilio Estefan asked her to sing with the group permanently and changed the name to Miami Sound Machine. By 1984, they had massive hits with “Conga,” “Get On Your Feet,” and “1-2-3.”

Having married Emilio, she enjoyed accolades for her live performances and her songwriting skills. Her MSM career was interrupted by a tour bus accident that nearly paralyzed her in 1990. 

After that, she began focusing on her solo career and has released 14 solo projects, the latest in 2020.

6. Charo

Charo was born in either 1951 or 1941 in Spain— there’s no definitive evidence for either date— as Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza. She studied the classical guitar under the tutelage of Andres Segovia.

She met, worked with, and eventually married Xavier Cugat as a teenager, even though the bandleader was 40 years older than she was.

She played with Cugat’s outfit before developing her own act for Las Vegas. She began appearing on shows like “The Tonight Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Charo developed a following through TV and movie appearances as a blond bombshell, and few people in the 1980s— the height of her fame— had any idea she was a guitar virtuoso.

She returned to recording on the guitar in the 1990s.

7. Camila Cabello

Born in Cuba in 1997, Camila Cabello rose to fame as a teenager when she fronted the girl group, Fifth Harmony. Upon leaving the group in 2016, she released collaborative songs with Shawn Mendes and Machine Gun Kelly, both of which were big hits. 

Her self-titled debut solo album, buoyed by the success of her single “Havana,” entered the Billboard 200 chart at number one. 

Cabello is romantically linked to Mendes and continues to write and record hits gobbled up by voracious fans.

8. Selena Gomez

Before age 10, Selena Gomez was co-starring on television with Barney the purple dinosaur. She made several appearances on some Disney shows before landing a lead in “The Wizards of Waverly Place.” 

With all the Disney shows, she began recording music for some of them, and her solo musical career was born. She contributed to many Disney soundtracks before releasing standalone singles that propelled her to renown as a singer.

The Texas-born Gomez has lupus and bipolar disorder but has done her best not to let either condition slow her down.

In addition to continuing recording, she starred in “Only Murders in the Building” with comedy legends Steve Martin and Martin Short. 

9. Rosalia

Rosalia has come to the attention of Americans only recently, and primarily through recordings she made while in COVD-19-related lockdowns.

Still, before a virus changed the world, she was a huge star in her native Spain. She’s had nine number one hits there before most Americans had heard of her.

Collaborations with J Balvin and Bad Bunny brought her to the cultural forefront. Two appearances on “Saturday Night Live” didn’t exactly hurt, either. 

Her music, built on a foundation of flamenco music (in which she earned a master’s degree), covers many styles, so it’s hard to pin down a specific genre into which she fits. Versatility seems to be Rosalia’s greatest strength.

10. Carmen Miranda

The common cultural impression of Carmen Miranda is that she’s the lady with all the fruit on her hat. But the Portuguese-born Brazilian was much more than a wardrobe choice. 

Born in 1909, by the 1930s, she was the highest-paid female performer in America. Miranda parlayed a lovely singing voice and dazzling stage presence into global stardom in much the same way that Madonna would in the 1980s.

She played parts in films in which she sang and danced, but these roles today are considered racial stereotypes.

As a result, many Latinx audiences in the 1940s began turning against her, and her legacy today remains complicated. She died of a heart attack at age 46.

11. Mercedes Sosa

Mercedes Sosa was born in Argentina in 1935 and would grow up to be known as the voice of that country. She was drawn to Argentinian folk music as a child.

Her sultry, husky alto voice would lend power to her politically-charged performances during that country’s tumultuous years under Jorge Videla, a military dictator.

He, alongside his human rights violations, had Sosa arrested onstage in 1979 along with the show’s entire audience. 

She won five Grammy awards and a host of international honors. While her 1966 album “Yo No Canto Por Cantar” was her biggest hit, she was never far from the minds of music lovers everywhere. And though she passed away in 2009, she remains a venerated singer.

Summing Up

Whether it’s from the 20th century or the present-day music era, songs from the above Hispanic female singers have found a home in the hearts of millions of fans worldwide.

As artists, they’ve all left undeniable marks on the world through their music, and some are still active.

Moreover, many of them have used their rise to stardom to branch out their careers, become impactful philanthropists, and more. 

Photo of author
Written by Laura Macmillan
Laura has over 12 years experience teaching both classical and jazz saxophone and clarinet. She now resides in California where she works as a session and live performer.