Carin León Is Bringing Mexican Music and Country Closer Together

“Music knows no boundaries,” expresses Carin León, a talented singer-songwriter from Mexico. “There’s simply music that resonates with us and music that doesn’t.”

In January 2023, Carin León was preparing for a concert at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Recalling the cherished moments of his youth, when he would bond with his father over David Allen Coe’s ‘Tennessee Whisky’, León made the heartfelt decision to captivate the audience with a soulful performance of the song during his encore.

The performance gained widespread attention, showcasing his talent for singing country music and English songs, and opened up new opportunities in his career.

León, 34, is a highly acclaimed artist who has won a Latin Grammy and has amassed billions of streams on Spotify. He has worked alongside country star Kane Brown and soul singer Leon Bridges, collaborated with seasoned musicians in Nashville, received a standing ovation at the prestigious Grand Ole Opry, and showcased his talent at both Coachella and Stagecoach festivals. His bold and daring approach to music transcends cultural barriers and pushes the limits of tradition.

León is among a group of artists who are bringing a fresh perspective to Mexican music in the United States, alongside acts like Peso Pluma and Grupo Frontera. He refuses to use the term “regional Mexican” due to its restrictive implications, instead adopting a more comprehensive and inclusive perspective on Mexican music.

Edgar Barrera, a frequent collaborator, admires León for defying conventions. Regional Mexican music has often been dismissed or undervalued. Carin emphasises that our reach extends far beyond what is commonly perceived.

Mexican music and country music have shared roots, as American cowboy culture has been greatly influenced by the Mexican vaquero tradition. Streaming has also boosted the visibility of both genres, turning them into major commercial players.

León showcased his talent at Stagecoach, captivating the audience with his rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Man in Black” while dressed in traditional attire, complete with chaps and a Tejana hat. Troy Tomlinson of Universal Music Publishing Group Nashville emphasises León’s genuine nature and down-to-earth demeanour as crucial elements that resonate with country music enthusiasts.

In the past, there have been Mexican American artists who have achieved success in country music by primarily singing in English. Examples include Johnny Rodriguez and Linda Ronstadt.

Today, artists such as Wyatt Flores and efforts to support artists of colour are reshaping the artistic scene. According to Tomlinson, León’s performance at the Opry marked a significant moment in Nashville’s gradual embrace of artists from diverse backgrounds.

León has had a successful solo career, releasing four albums and working with popular Latin artists like Camilo, Maluma, and Grupo Firme. He attributes his willingness to take creative risks to the influence of Spanish rapper C. Tangana.

“I wasn’t content with the music I was creating for a long time,” León expressed. “Everything took a different turn when I began creating the music that truly resonated with me.”

León has a wide range of musical influences, from opera to hard rock, and he even used to be the lead singer of a heavy metal cover band. Barrera characterises León’s voice as highly expressive, showcasing an impressive vocal range. Kane Brown, who worked with León on “The One (Pero No Como Yo),” praises his incredible vocal talent.

León keeps pushing boundaries with exciting new ventures. Prior to commencing an arena tour that encompasses a performance at the renowned Madison Square Garden, the artist is set to unveil the initial installment of a trilogy of albums slated for release in 2024. The album “Boca Chueca Vol. 1” delves into personal and genre themes, showcasing tracks like “Frené Mis Pies” that evoke the nostalgic sound of 1980s heartland rock.

León’s creativity knows no bounds, as evidenced by their collaborations with a wide range of artists, from rising country star Lainey Wilson to Harry Styles’ producer Kid Harpoon. His remarkable versatility and groundbreaking innovation are garnering well-deserved recognition, paving the way for exciting opportunities with potential major record deals.

“I hope Mexican music can reach greater heights,” León expresses. That is my purpose. I hope to encourage individuals to broaden their perspectives and be receptive to new ideas. But primarily, I simply want to create music that resonates with my personal taste.

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