Each week, NBC’s Songland brings in unknown songwriters to pitch an original track to a high profile guest recording artist and the dream team of producers Ryan Tedder, Ester Dean, and Shayne McAnally. This coming Monday, April 20th at 10:00 pm ET, Five-time Latin Grammy winner and four-time Grammy nominee Luis Fonsi will be featured on the NBC hit show. The artist is the first and only Latino to join Songland, which is exciting news for fans around the world.
In the upcoming episode, four songwriters will present their mix of lyrics to the panel. Producers will collaborate on the creations, shaping the selected songs to fit Luis’ style. The final version will, naturally, be a blend of English and Spanish, with lyrics that hit a note for him and highlight his sound. “Lyrics are the soul, the nucleus of a song,” he told me, expressing how essential they are to his work as an artist. We can expect nothing less from him and his Songland team, who on Monday will honor the work of a songwriter whose creation will be poised to connect with millions of music lovers, as much as it connected with Luis.
His music blasted into the mainstream scene in 2017 with the monster hit “Despacito” but he has been a crowd-pleaser since the 1998 debut of the Spanish-language album Comenzare. A string of smash hits frequented the Latin Billboard Charts making him a Latin Pop sensation long before the “Despacito” video smashed records by hitting 5 billion views on YouTube in early 2018. The hit song has been a pinnacle of success for the artist and Latinos worldwide. The catchy tune broke all kinds of records that were not in the plans when the process of creation began. However, “Despacito” has transcended languages, genres, and countries which can only be described as groundbreaking, leading me to really think about the process of how songs come together.
The opportunity to get a better understanding of the way a song is born from inception to the end product is part of what makes Songland so special. It unveils the mystery of how songwriters, artists, and producers work in unison to bring us the music we so much enjoy. If you can imagine, getting time on the artist’s busy calendar to ask about his personal experience with the show and the process was a distinct pleasure that I will not soon forget.
The conversation took the form of an organic exchange of thoughts, as his humble demeanor inspired me to feel comfortable. It wasn’t hard to see how the artist was awarded the Somos Humanitarian Award in October 2019. There are plenty of reasons to hold him in high regard. Whether it is the work he’s done with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, joining the Global Citizen Together at Home Concert — he’s performing tonight! — or giving donations and organizing the reconstruction of homes in Puerto Rico through The Luis Fonsi Foundation. Luis is clearly grounded, demonstrating a focused sense of responsibility to make society better for his family and the world.
“The way we are going to get out of this is if we work together. We have to follow the rules and stay home,” he said, without hesitation. For him, this has meant postponing the “Vida World Tour,” a decision that was difficult but necessary to respect travel restrictions. In the meantime, he is staying busy, spending time with family, exercising, or making new music, all while at home. It’s a reminder that whether an artist is big or small, this is a time to use our platforms for good, play music, connect on social media or other means in effort to encourage others to get better. It is the one thing we have control over, as we follow our global community’s guidelines to get through this crisis.
Though the “Vida World Tour” is off for now, on Monday, we’ll get to see him perform the winning song from Songland. On our call, Luis’ friendly voice combined with his enthusiasm for Songland was evident, as he expressed the honor it was for him to be part of this project. The young boy from Puerto Rico realized his dream of making music by dedicating time, sweat, and tears, and having the patience to see his dream through. All he ever wanted to do was be a singer and, along the way, he learned the art of songwriting, something that expressed his passion, creating music that helps people connect.
As Luis put it: “It’s so cool!” He clearly has not taken for granted that it is an absolute gift to find something you love and do it for a living.
He explained that the process of choosing the right songs has always been about the “feeling,” making a connection. It wasn’t until his second album when he received a chance to write his own lyrics. The craft of songwriting was a progression taking shape over time in the studio. The soul of a song lives in the words, and it increasingly becomes more powerful as it binds with music. Songland gives us a look behind the curtain as masters of music generate hits to make us feel, something Luis is very much proud of as an artist.
Check out Songland on April 20 at 10:00pm ET to see Luis Fonsi’s choice of winning song. It is sure to hit the Top 10 iTunes playlist not long after the show!