So strong and deep is the tradition of the cantautor, or singer-songwriter, in Latin music that the Latin Recording Academy is carving out more space for such multifaceted artists. This year, it debuts its best songwriter of the year category as part of the also newly created songwriting field. As with the mainstream Grammy Awards, the category recognizes songwriters credited as writers or co-writers on at least six tracks where they are not the performer, producer or engineer.
In addition, another new category, best singer-songwriter song, will fall under the singer-songwriter field (which has existed since the inception of the Latin Grammy Awards almost 25 years ago and has included the best singer-songwriter album award). To be eligible for this new award, at least 51% of the lyrics on singles or tracks must be in Spanish, Portuguese or any native regional dialect and must be from a singer-songwriter album competing in the best singer-songwriter album category that year. Below are six songwriters who stand a good chance of landing in one — or both — of the newly unveiled categories.
As fans wait for Elena Rose to drop her long-awaited debut album, the Venezuelan singer-songwriter has kept busy with a string of singles recorded under her own name, plus a plethora of hits in the pop and urban realms. As one of the first women to actively collaborate with reggaetón stars, Elena Rose has opened the door for a new generation of women songwriters — making her a prime pick for the first class of best songwriter of the year nominees. The prolific collaborator has co-written massive hits like Karol G and Becky G’s “MAMIII,” Bad Bunny’s “Party” and, this year, TINI and Maria Becerra’s “Miénteme.”
Perhaps the most versatile songwriter in Latin music today, Barrera has spent over 100 weeks on Billboard’s Latin Songwriters chart, second only to Bad Bunny, thanks to credits on cross-genre hits. In the past 12 months alone, the 32-year-old has worked with regional Mexican act Grupo Frontera on all of its hits, including blockbusters like “un x100to” with Bad Bunny and “Frágil” with Yahritza y Su Esencia. He also boasts credits on Manuel Turizo’s global smashes “La Bachata” and “El Merengue,” as well as multiple singles performed by longtime collaborators Maluma and Christian Nodal, among others, making him a shoo-in for the best songwriter of the year category.
The former frontman of norteño group Calibre 50 has emerged as a successful solo artist and a sought-after songwriter for artists like Pepe Aguilar and Christian Nodal, among others. In June, the SESAC Latina Awards honored Muñoz as regional Mexican songwriter of the year for the fourth consecutive year thanks to a long string of hits. At this year’s Latin Grammys, Muñoz may be a contender in the best singer-songwriter album and song categories with his first solo studio album, Consejos Gratis (for which he wrote 13 out of its 14 tracks), boasting clever lyrics full of wordplay with uptempo fare and romantic ballads.
The Puerto Rican singer-songwriter got her start writing for other artists while she honed her solo chops. Now, in the wake of the release of her debut album, Lo Que No Te Dije, Gale could be nominated in all three songwriting fields. Her personal strain of alt-rock and pop was highlighted throughout her album and best heard on the uptempo, rock-leaning “Problemas” (making her a likely nominee in the best singer-songwriter album and song categories). She could also be a contender in the best songwriter category thanks to co-writes for the likes of Manuel Turizo and Marshmello (“El Merengue”), Juanes (“Ojalá”) and Aitana, Emilia and Ptazeta (“Quieres”).
The Colombian veteran arguably reshaped the singer-songwriting mold when he burst on the scene with his 2000 debut album, Fíjate Bien. In 2023, he’s still innovating, albeit in a more collaborative fashion. On his new album, Vida Cotidiana, Juanes brings in many co-writers, including Tomás Torres and Alexis Díaz-Pimienta. But the album’s standout song, “Gris,” a revealing look into his longtime marriage, is his alone. A Latin Grammy favorite, Juanes is a contender for the best singer-songwriter album and song categories.
The Colombian songwriter-producer was ASCAP’s 2023 songwriter of the year — a perfect setup for his inclusion in the inaugural group of best songwriter nominees. A favorite co-writer for two of the biggest Colombian stars of the moment — Shakira and Karol G — he worked alongside Bizarrap and Shakira on the surprise smash “Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53,” which spent five weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart earlier this year. Keityn also has songwriting credits on Shakira and Karol G’s “TQG,” which peaked at No. 7 on the Hot 100. It’s no small feat for a 26-year-old — nor is regularly writing hits for Manuel Turizo, J Balvin and Maluma (including the global smash “Hawái”).
This story will appear in the July 15, 2023, issue of Billboard.