Growing up, I was fortunate to be raised by my father’s side of the family. Because of this, I learned all about my grandparents’ culture and their upbringing in Puerto Rico. They taught me everything from the food, to the music, and dance. You would think that by being surrounded by a huge family of Puerto Ricans for my entire life that I would have picked up the language. Unfortunately, I can barely get through a third-grade level Spanish conversation at the age of 21. Being a “no sabo kid,” however, has not stopped me from enjoying some of my favorite music from my culture.
Looking at some of my favorite performers, I was shocked to learn how many Latin artists in America did not actually know Spanish! It gave me some sense of hope to know that I still have the chance to try and learn the language myself. Here are a few figures who stuck out to me as famous no sabo kids!
I was in utter shock when I learned that the famous Selena was not actually fluent in Spanish. Originally from Texas, Selena Perez was born to two Mexican American parents. Her legacy as a musician is carried out heavily within the Latin American population, especially within the Texas and Mexican areas. Selena was most famous for her Tejano music. This is the combination of American, primarily Texan, and Mexican influence to create music that reflected her upbringing.
Selena had only learned enough Spanish primarily for her own music. She had the assistance of her father to create lyrics for her songs. Despite never learning the language, she remains as one of history’s most iconic performers and the gift that was taken too early from this world. Selena’s legacy does not revolve around her as a Spanish speaker, but as a woman who loved her culture and wanted to share it with the world.
With the name Miguel Pimentel, I would have thought this man would have grown up speaking Spanish in his home. The R&B artists was born in Los Angeles, CA and raised in San Pedro. His father comes from Mexican heritage and his mother is African American. At the age of eight, his parents divorced. This led Miguel to be raised primarily by his mother, which meant he would not be heavily introduced to his father’s Mexican culture.
Being raised by his mother, Miguel was introduced to different genres such as R&B and funk. This led to the young artist’s inspiration behind his early music career going into high school. Maybe if Miguel was raised by his father instead, he could have been a Latin artist! But who knows for sure?
Nothing confused me more growing up than learning that Demi Lovato did not speak Spanish. Especially after her release of “Lo Que Soy” back in 2008. She was born in New Mexico with two Latin American parents, but never learned the language while growing up. Her release of the Spanish version of “This Is Me” had hundreds of young and impressionable children believe she understood the language. To an extent, it made me feel better that she also was not fluent. It made her seem more relatable from one no sabo child to another.
Despite not having complete fluency in Spanish, I am a fan of her remixing her music in different languages! This could be something she might be able to try again with some of her newer music in her present career. Seeing a strong, prominent, and queer figure in modern music is inspirational to the younger generation of listeners. I’ve enjoyed growing up with Demi Lovato’s music and I wish her nothing but the best for the rest of her career!
I cannot stress enough how funny I found it that the one Latin member in Big Time Rush could not even speak Spanish. This was especially shocking when I learned that Carlos PenaVega was born in Columbia. Except, I later realized it was Columbia, Missouri and not the country! His father is Spanish and Venezuelan, while his mother is Dominican. Yet, Carlos did not grow up speaking the language at all. However, he has reportedly been trying to learn with the help of his wife, Alexa Vega.
The band Big Time Rush has been rumored to be looking into making Latin music. Does this mean we could potentially see Carlos have his big solo? I guess we better hope his lessons with his wife are helping! A boyband that does have Latin members who actually speak Spanish is In Real Life! Unfortunately, they have disbanded, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying their past music!
Latin music brings out the beauty within the culture. This is because all types of Spanish and Latin people come from different places and upbringings across the world. These artists inspire me in the sense that it is ok to not be fluent in Spanish, but still hold my culture dearly. However, it also encourages me to try and pursue learning even more! Who knows, maybe my name will be featured on this list in the future!