In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month (which runs from September 15 to October 15), we’ve decided to highlight some of the most defining, and often overlooked, moments for Latinos in American pop music. With “Despacito” going 55 times platinum and “Mi Gente” climbing the charts, it appears the music industry have popularized songs that are representative of the 57 million Hispanics in the US. While it’s hard to narrow down just a handful of moments when Latinos contributed to pop music, here are just some of the biggest moments in music history where Hispanics changed the game.
2004 — Los Lonely Boys with their Tex-Mex rock song “Heaven” earns their place in the Billboard Top 20 and a Grammy for Best Pop Performance.
2000 — Carlos Santana’s album Supernatural wins 11 Grammys, including best album and best song for “Smooth.” Another famed track off the album “Maria Maria” is sampled in DJ Khaled and Rihanna’s current hit “Wild Thoughts.”
2000 — Shakira wins Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance at the first Latin Grammy Awards.
1999 — After reaching superstar status in Puerto Rico, Ricky Martin released his first self-titled English album. “Livin’ la Vida Loca” spends 20 weeks on Billboard‘s Hot 100 list.
1999 — The “Macarena” by Los del Rio becomes a defining dance craze and song of the 90s.
1995 — After Selena’s tragic death at the age of 23, George W. Bush declared April 16th Selena Day. Her last album, Dreaming of You was the first Tejano album to go double platinum.
1985 — Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine have three number one hits on their sophomore album Primitive Love.
1968 — Puerto Rican José Feliciano covers the Doors’ “Light My Fire” and becomes the first Latino to win a Grammy for best new artist.
1959 — 17-year-old Mexican-American Richie Valens becomes the first Latino Rockstar with his hit “La Bamba.” He died a year later in the same plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, also known as “the Day the Music died.”
1951 — Cuban born musician Desi Arnaz and husband to Lucille Ball introduces mainstream Americans to songs like “Cuban Pete” and “Babalu” on the hit show “I Love Lucy.” Desi and Lucy were also the first interracial couple to appear on TV.