In recent years, American Airlines Arena has become home to marathon Latin music concerts where fans can catch multiple acts in one night for the price of one ticket. From iHeartRadio's Fiesta Latina to Uforia's Mix Live and Spotify's forthcoming ¡Viva Latino! Live, these concerts are often headlined by Latin music's biggest superstars, with support from the genre's rising talent. ¡Viva Latino!, set to take over the Triple A this Friday, August 30, will present headlining sets by Bad Bunny and Nicky Jam, with support by Panamanian singer Sech and South Florida's Sebastián Yatra. But the show's most memorable moment is sure to be Rosalía's performance, the Spanish singer's Miami arena debut.
As her star has risen in the past year — particularly after the release of her breakthrough second album, El Mal Querer — Rosalía has teased Miami fans via multiple private performances around town. She also performed at Fundarte's Flamenco Rave in March 2018, but fans have waited patiently for her to bring her flamenco-pop hybrid to the city's traditional concert stages for a couple of years. It almost seems strategic now, because other than her appearance at Miami-Dade County Auditorium as part of that 2018 flamenco festival, the singer skipped midtier theaters almost entirely in favor of a massive perreo at the AA Arena.
Her Miami arena debut also comes at a time when she's taken a musical turn toward Latino urbano, which has turned off some fans of her earlier flamenco-tinged work. Others have expressed skepticism about her artistic one-eighty given the way trend-chasing artists of all genres have jumped on the reggaeton and Latin trap bandwagons over the past few years.
But when New Times spoke with Rosalía on the eve of a private showcase at Faena Miami Beach during Art Basel 2018, the singer was already expressing interest in reggaeton, even stating it came into her life around the same time she discovered flamenco. That was almost four months before she dropped the reggaeton banger "Con Altura," a collaboration with J Balvin and El Guincho.
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"I discovered both genres on the street," Rosalía told New Times at the time. "Flamenco was the one that most marked me. It was through friends on the street after getting out of school. I was hanging out with older kids, and they’d play it in their cars. I remember when I discovered flamenco, that changed me completely. It changed my life. It changed the way I understood music and the type of musician I wanted to become.”
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Detailing her evolution as a music fan, Rosalía recalled listening to her mom's favorite artists, including David Bowie and Janis Joplin, as a child. But in her adolescence, she began listening to mainstream American music.
"I listened to Tupac a lot," she recalled. "I listened to Lil' Kim. That all marked me. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. Then later, I began discovering indie groups but also lots of urban music. I moved on to Kanye West, James Blake. Now I [listen to] Oneohtrix Point Never,” she continued, attempting to pronounce his name twice before giving up. "It‘s always hard for me to say his name, but I love the music he makes!" She cited Björk, Missy Elliott, and Nick Cave as additional influences.
Considering her diverse musical foundations, fans shouldn't expect Rosalía's output to remain in its current realm for long. In the two short years since the release of her debut studio album, Los Ángeles, the singer has displayed the kind of skill for reinvention that many artists attempt but few execute credibly. By the time El Mal Querer came around in 2018, Rosalía had merged the flamenco sounds of Los Ángeles with hip-hop beats and a Justin Timberlake-sampling pop slant. Her deep dive into reggaeton, including her recent collaboration with Ozuna, is a layover on what is bound to be a storied journey.
Spotify's ¡Viva Latino! Live. With Sebastián Yatra, Bad Bunny, Nicky Jam, Sech, and Rosalía. 8 p.m. Friday, August 30, at American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 786-777-1000; vivalatinolive.com. Tickets cost $49 to $169 via ticketmaster.com.