At this year's Grammys, legendary Cuban singer Celia Cruz is set to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award, and for good reason. Many of you might remember Celia being sampled in Wyclef Jean's “Guantanamera,” but to the Latin audience, she's quite literally “the queen of Latin Music,” scoring an astonishing 23 gold albums during her career.
Just in time for this crowning achievement, Fania Records (an iconic imprint that pioneered the salsa and Latin funk sounds in the 1960s and '70s, with a roster that included Cruz alongside Tito Puente, Hector Lavoe, and many more) continues their journey of bringing the classic sounds to a new generation via Calentura presents Global Basement, a collaboration between Fania and the Calentura crew. The first look is a rework of Cruz's “Virgencita” by emerging electronic producer Happy Colors, who himself was recently signed to Sony Latino.
Happy Colors (who has released material alongside the likes of JSTJR and Victor Niglio on Mad Decent and Ones to Watch, respectively) does all of the justice to Celia's original. Instead of turning this into some massive club anthem, he instead infuses a mid-tempo bounce to the track, precisely chopping Celia's vocal perfectly, but letting the beautiful groove of that piano loop do the damn thing.
“I remember the day Celia died,” Happy Colors says. “I was still little, but I remember that huge parade they had for her. Celia was a big idol. She's just a Queen, there's no way other way to explain it. She's the Michael Jackson of Latin America.”
“When I first heard 'Virgencita,' I knew that was the track I wanted to remix,” he continues. “It sounds like that old, old merengue from the Dominican Republic, that classic merengue sound. I wanted to take something like that, from back in the day, and make it sound new. I have a lot respect for Celia, so I wanted to make something classy, something that she might like if she was still alive.”
If EDM is going to last, it'll need to start infusing more Latin sounds like Happy Colors has done. With Fania taking notice, as well as that recent Sony Music Latino signing, it looks like 2016 could be an interesting year for the Latin/global electronic music scene.
Happy Colors' “Virgencita” remix will be featured on Calentura presents Gobal Basement, which is out on March 11 via Fania Records, with more remixes from Major Lazer's Jillionaire, Uproot Andy, DJ Sabo, and many more.