This past weekend, in collaboration with HBO Latino, Latin music artists Gente De Zona released the second edition of their Grammy-nominated music special “En Letra de Otro.”
The feature, currently available on HBO GO, HBO NOW, HBO On Demand and additional streaming platforms, is set in Havana Cuba where the group’s lead singers Alexander Delgado and Randy Malcom Martinez recount memories, visit their old neighborhoods, and tell the stories that inspired their concert selection of classic Latin hits.
Latin Grammy winners themselves, Gente de Zona releases this feature coming off of over a decade in the music industry and a discography encompassing hits like La Gozadera, featuring Salsa singer Marc Anthony. Music fans may also recognize Gente De Zona through their songs featuring global Top 40 artists such as Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull. This new installment of En Letra de Otro highlights additional household names and styles in Latin music, with Gente De Zona covering songs like “El Rey,” “Cuando Calienta el Sol,” “Si Tú No Estás,” “Idilio,” “A Bailar el Toca Toca,” and more. The Knockturnal caught up with Alex Delgado, one half of the duo, to discuss the success of their En Letra de Otro series, hopes for the newest edition, and importance of Latin culture on the global music scene.
“With the first edition of the HBO special, we were super happy,” says Delgado on the Grammy-nomination of the first installment. “I hope that this second edition will be nominated as well. We have worked a lot so En Letra de Otro is successful. I think it is one of the most important moments of our career, and that is why we have so much faith that it can be brought to that higher level.”
While this HBO special, fans of Gente De Zona can expect to see something new from the group in the form of classic songs made anew. “In reality it’s pretty young music actually,” says Delgado, “but I also think it’s important that the younger people that follow us now, that follow urban music, have the knowledge of these kinds of songs, that they don’t go out of fashion.” Gente De Zona hopes that by introducing younger generations of people and new fans of their music to this classic setlist, they create more exposure for their industry overall.
“Fans have not seen us like this before, and they’re going to see us singing songs by Luis Miguel, by world-renowned artists and great balladeers,” says Delgado. “We had the opportunity to choose songs well known worldwide from great composers and interpret them ourselves. I think that no one is going to believe that those great songs were performed by Gente de Zona.”
Gente De Zona also notes collaboration as a great musical influencer. “Our culture influences us in that what we really do is a mixture of Cuban music, but also with all the influential rhythms that exist in this time,” says Delgado. “We have had the opportunity to collaborate with many artists of different genres, and this has given us the opportunity to mix ourselves with the characteristics of those other genres.”
“I have been able to work with artists of all kinds and I think it has given us the opportunity to open up the spectrum a bit. Now with En Letra de Otro, it is also another opportunity to prove ourselves musically, and to know that we can make a little more up-to-date arrangements.”
In terms of the role their native Cuba plays in their music, “there have been great composers; in Cuba there have been great ballads, great pianists, great jazz players,” notes Delgado. “Our music has been greatly influenced all of this, but the participation of Cuban musicians in the industry has not been well recognized.”
Many who know of Cuba think primarily about its political and cultural strifes, overshadowing the creativity that comes from the island and spreads throughout the globe musically and otherwise. It’s something that Gente De Zona seeks to look beyond with their HBO Latino special. “With this concert, we’re giving audiences an opportunity to reminisce in the nostalgia of the music and experience firsthand the beauty and history of Cuba.”