Can Paulina Rubio Attract More Latinos to America’s Greatest Music Festival?

On December 14, organizers of one of the nation’s premier live music events, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, revealed the lineup for its 2012 extravaganza. Presented by Shell, “Jazz Fest” has become a two-weekend celebration of the best in American music. It has far outgrown its own name, and over the years has welcomed headline rock acts to the big stages. At the same time, smaller stages provide local and regional artists enormous exposure by offering them a prime platform to share their Zydeco and blues sounds with music fans that may never have been exposed to such styles. On the first weekend in May, thousands will get the chance to hear — perhaps for the first time — the vocal stylings of one Paulina Rubio. The selection of Rubio is monumental. The 40-year-old Mexican pop icon is a thirty-year veteran, first rising to fame at age 10 as a member of teen music group Timbiriche. In 1991, Rubio went solo, immediately cementing her status across the Spanish-speaking world with her breakthrough 1992 hit “Mio” — now considered Rubio’s signature song. The track is still regularly heard across California on various FM stations, according to Mediabase 24/7. In 1999 — likely bolstered by Ricky Martin’s fiery performance of “La Copa de la Vida” at that year’s Grammy Awards — Rubio returned to the spotlight with songs including “Y Yo Sigo Aqui,” perhaps her best-known track. The follow-up single, “Yo No Soy Esa Mujer,” has become her best-known song in Puerto Rico, where radio networks including Estereotempo, Fidelity and La Nueva X regularly play the track. The Paulina Rubio rocket then fizzled in mid-flight. An attempt at following Shakira into international superstardom as an English-language pop act failed, as the 2002 release “Don’t Say Goodbye” was met with tepid response from Top 40 radio listeners. Over the next eight years, Paulina refocused her efforts on Latin pop, continuing her string of success across Latin America with such songs as “Ni Una Sola Palabra” and her most recent effort, “Me Gustas Tanto.” Despite this level of chart success, Rubio has yet to command the respect — and attention — of Latin music lovers across the U.S. Rubio’s live performances have been regularly panned by music critics and fans alike. At the 2004 edition of Reventón Super Estrella in Anaheim, California, Rubio was loudly booed for her lackluster performance. Thus, Jazz Fest serves as a pivotal moment in Rubio’s career. Can a solid performance in New Orleans catapult her to stardom among non-Latinos? Or, are the organizers of Jazz Fest attempting to lure Latino concert-goers by naming Rubio as a headliner? That seems to be the case. Jazz Fest organizers are likely seeking a Latino audience that will likely drive from homes within the New Orleans area or from locales such as Dallas, Houston, Birmingham and Atlanta. Upon closer examination of the second weekend schedule, one can find an entire “Latin music track,” which includes local Latin guitarists Julio y Cesar, Mariachi Jalisco, local salsa and merengue act Rumba Buena, and Mexican acoustic guitar masters Rodrigo y Gabriela. Yet giving Rubio the same status as the Eagles, Foo Fighters, Zac Brown Band, Herbie Hancock, Bonnie Raitt, Florence & The Machine, Levon Helm and a list of lesser-known talents is a risky move for Jazz Fest. Furthermore, it could be seen as insulting to the purveyors of Latin Jazz and to the hundreds of talented musicians who happen to perform world-class music in Spanish. In conclusion, the second weekend of Jazz Fest reinforces the festival’s metamorphosis into a mega-festival giving all sorts of music a voice. This explains the presence of hip-hop act Ne-Yo, known for such hits as “So Sick,” “Closer,” and “Sexy Love.” Other performers set to appear are My Morning Jacket, Bunny Wailer, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Galactic, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Bruce Hornsby, Ani DiFranco, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Little Anthony & The Imperials, Marcia Ball, Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. and Dwayne Dopsie, and busker/songwriter Glen Hansard, star of the feature film Once. There’s lots of talent on the lineup. Fans will likely greatly enjoy their performances. Will they embrace Rubio, or reject her? Adam R Jacobson is the editor and producer of the Hispanic Market Overview reports distributed by He can be contacted at ad**@ad***********.com Adam R Jacobson Editorial Services & Research Consultancy :: 1228 West Avenue, Suite 1003 | Miami Beach FL? 33139 :: East Coast: 954 417 5146| West Coast: 818 231 1546   | ad**@ja*******.net Twitter: Jakeadamsdotnet. Find me on LinkedIn. is changing to –  Details soon.

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