Juan Gabriel and Héctor Lavoe Hits Inducted to National Recording Registry

Latin music classisc "El Cantante" and "Amor Eterno" are among the 25 inductees this year

NRR Juan Gabriel Hector Lavoe

Photo: Public Domain/Instagram: @hectorlavoevive

Latin artists have always been pioneers in music but not necessarily always recognized for their efforts and successes. Their music and achievements have paved the way for musicians today and represented our comunidad beautifully. Through the National Recording Registry’s annual inductions of 25 recordings “showcasing the range and diversity of American recorded sound heritage in order to increase preservation awareness” we have seen major artists and their contributions honored by being preserved. Since 2002, we’ve seen albums like Selena Quintanilla Perez’s Ven Conmigo, Santana’s Abraxas, and Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco’s Celia & Johnny as some of the chosen recordings for preservation. As of 2023, there were only 16 Latin genre recordings that have been inducted into the National Recording Registry. While a small number compared to the more than 600 recordings, Latinxs have definitely left their mark. Just last year, Puerto Rican reggaetonero Daddy Yankee made history when his 2004 hit “Gasolina” became the first reggaeton song to be inducted into the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress. Now two songs by two of the most iconic Latin artists of all time join the ranks: Juan Gabriel’s “Amor Eterno” and Hector Lavoe’s “El Cantante”.

 “Amor Eterno” was penned by Juan Gabriel in 1984 in honor of his late mother. Gabriel’s powerful voice reached audiences throughout Latin America with his lyrics hitting home for many listeners experiencing grief and loss. The timeless track also became an anthem for El Pasoans mourning the loss of the 23 people shot dead in the 2019 Walmart shooting.

Born Alberto Aguilera Valadez, the late “Divo de Juárez” was raised in Chihuahua, Mexico. Some of his biggest singles include, “Hasta Que Te Conoci”, “El Noa Noa”, and “Querida” and in total he’s said to have written nearly 2000 songs. He is remembered for his flamboyant and personality-driven performance style and lavish wardrobe which for many LGBTQ+ Latinxs helped break down gender norms and the stigma surrounding the LGBTQ+ community in Mexico & Latin America. Following his first album release in 1971 he quickly gained success and is recognized as one of the most successful Latin artists of all time. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at number 172 on its list of the 200 Greatest Singers of All Time. He was inducted into the Billboard Latin Music Hall of Fame in 1996, the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2003, and he inducted into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame just a few months after his death in 2016 in Santa Monica, California.

Library of Congress spokesperson Maria Peña told the Santa Monica Daily Press, “This heartrending ballad has become a staple in Mexico, throughout Latin America and among many Latino families in our country.”

Gabriel is joined by another icon, Puerto Rican salsa singer Hector Lavoe, who also made an impact throughout his decades long career. His 1978 hit and signature song “El Cantante” was added to the registry—written and produced by Rubén Blades and Willie Colón, icons of the genre. The song narrates the adversity that singers face while still having to show up for their supporters. Throughout his career, Lavoe was one of the leading voices in salsa, credited with popularizing the genre. Born Héctor Juan Pérez Martínez in Puerto Rico, Lavoe formed part of Fania All-Stars—a group based out of salsa music label, Fania Records in New York—which had been previously inducted into the National Recording Registry for their Live at Yankee Stadium album.​​ 

Lavoe’s life inspired the 2006 biographical film El Cantante, named after his signature hit, starring salsa singer Marc Anthony as Lavoe and Jennifer Lopez as his wife, Hilda Roman Perez (also known as Puchi). Since his passing in 1993, he’s been honored posthumously with a bronze statue in La Guancha in Ponce, Puerto Rico as well as being inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2000. Just last year, he was ranked number 73 in Rolling Stones’ The 200 Greatest Singers of All Time list. He remains one of the most iconic Latin singers of all time, living up to his nickname “La Voz” which would eventually inspire his stage name.

” ‘El Cantante’ is an excellent example of the many songs that became emblematic at the height of the 1970s New York City salsa era,” the Library of Congress states in the announcement.

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amor eterno el cantante hector lavoe juan gabriel latin music national recording registry
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