One must be living under bedrock not to notice the successful crossover impact of Latin musical acts. For close to 20 years music lovers and concertgoers have reveled in the exploits of Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. However, as many are aware, the Latin musical scope goes beyond these artists. One act that fits the bill of breaking the border of success in both the U.S. and Latin markets is Mexico City’s own Jesse & Joy.
Jesse & Joy have been in the public eye since their debut album Esta Es Mi Vida was released in 2006. They’ve had a steady string of hits including “Chocolate,” “¡Corre!” and their most recent “Un Besito Más,” which also serves as the title track of their fourth and most efficacious album to date.
During their time in the spotlight they’ve seen their following exceed cult status while still evoking its aura. The proof is in the numbers, with a Facebook following of over 15 million. This is paired with over five million on Twitter, over three million subscribers on YouTube and over a million on Instagram.
And the accolades have certainly piled up.
The band has had six Latin Grammy nominations, including a win this year for “Best Pop Vocal Album.” On Sunday they took home the Grammy for “Best Latin Pop Album,” which was their second such nomination in that category and first win. They also have three nominations for the upcoming Premio Lo Nuestro (February 23) and two for the Premios Billboard (April 27).
Moreover Jesse & Joy released their first English-only album, Jesse & Joy, earlier this month, and another single from their previous album, “Me soltaste,” was dropped on February 10 — all while in the middle of a massive promotional tour of the United Kingdom, the United States, Spain and Latin America.
The duo has worked with the likes of Alejandro Sanz and iconic Dominican singer-songwriter Juan Luis Guerra, each of whom are featured on Un Besito Más, and the latter of which performs on the title track.
But ask them if they’ve tired of all this.
“Never. Never. [It] never gets old. I don’t think we get used to it at all. I think it’s an honor every time our name is up there,” Joy Huerta enthusiastically told Enclave,during a recent conference call while on a tour break in Chile.
The life force of the band may be driven by the commanding vocals of Joy Huerta, but its heartbeat lies in the songwriting partnership she forged with her brother Jesse in the early 2000s.
Joy Huerta says she began writing her own music at the age of 15 with her brother, who at the time was 18. Although both siblings were raised in Mexico City, they culturally identify as Mexican American. Their bicultural roots have been on display long before they hit pop stardom, evidenced by everything from their personal lives to the music they concoct for their legions of adoring fans. They grew up in a household where their mother would take control of what the siblings were listening to. The matriarch of the family turned them on to Carole King, the Carpenters, James Taylor, Credence Clearwater Revival and Neil Young, while the patriarch made certain that a Latin musical influence was still a part of the home environment.
“I think all the difference between all the music we were growing up with definitely had a big impact on our lives,” Joy recalls of those early enterprising days with her brother.
As we were getting older we were discovering music that we liked. I think that these influences had a lot to do with how we started discovering music in our separate ways as brother and sister. The first time we wrote a song it was so interesting to see how not only we had different perspectives in what we had to say. But also, our taste in music was so different that somehow it worked whenever we wrote our first songs.
It was also during these fledgling times that Joy and Jesse sought musical guidance from their father. The nascent voyage into music and the songwriting process was nurtured by him. To this day, he remains part of the legacy of his children.
“The song ‘Un Besito Más,’ which means one more kiss, is one of the songs on the album. It pretty much sums up the album. In the album, we talk about a lot of things: break-ups, [and] not break-ups. But the ‘one more kiss’ could be taken many ways. It could be we’re just getting started or a kiss goodbye,” Joy shares about the song and album.
However, for the Huerta siblings, it had an extra special but bittersweet meaning, as they dedicated “Un Besito Más” to their beloved father who passed away in 2014.
As for the recording process of the record, the Huertas continued their collaboration with Martin Terefe (Jason Mraz, James Morrison and Shawn Mendes). But they did manage to add a new twist to things in adding Fraser T. Smith to the mix. It was the first time they had worked with Smith whose credits include Nelly Furtado, Adele and Beyonce. The move, which ultimately proved to be successful, was a bold one for the pair.
“It was a great experience,” Jesse expressed.
We’re very hands on with our music. We write our [own] songs and are involved on the production side. Whenever we pick who we go into the studio with and share our intimacies [musically], we’re very picky. And when it comes to Martin and Frazier I think we just found people who have the same vision we have for music. We found new friends that we had that we didn’t know [we had]. It was pretty special.
Nevertheless, a far more daring motive arose when it came to working with Fraser.
“One of the main reasons we worked with him from my producer side is because he’s worked with some of the best voices on the planet. And I may say I see my sister [on par] with all of them. [These] are some very special and remarkable voices,” Jesse said of Joy’s vocal range.
Where Jesse & Joy go from here is anyone’s guess. But in the middle of any speculation, one thing is clear: They undeniably enjoy being on the road and appreciate their fan base. The two still love how it allows them to connect with different people through their travels via their song catalog.
As for the Grammys, Joy offered this simple yet impactful message during the telecast: “We’re so proud to be Mexican American. So this goes to all the Hispanics out there in this country. To every minority group. We are with you. We stand with you” — a memorandum she felt she had to make due to the current upheaval being caused by Donald Trump.
Featured image: Warner Music Latina