Luis Fonsi holds a secret, although not for long. Because in March of this year, the Puerto Rican singer, songwriter and now music producer, released his new album, Amor Secreto.
In a business where cookie-cutter products are a dime a dozen, Fonsi is a true revelation. With only two albums to his name, his debut Comenzaré, and follow-up Eterno, the 23-year-old artist has shot to the top.
His success so far, though, is only a sign of things to come. From the moment his career began, Fonsi has experienced more than he ever imagined.
His first album, Comenzaré, received a "Billboard" nomination in the category "Best New Artist." That album and Eterno were certified Discos de oro by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIIA).
Eterno built on Fonsi's triumphs in the musical arena, reaching the top of several music charts, and took the single Imagíname sin ti all the way to the number one spot on Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks.
Recognized by his peers for his talent, Fonsi collaborated with two of the most successful and popular pop singers today, Christina Aguilera and Jaci Velásquez.
Chosen by "People en Español" magazine as one of the 25 most beautiful Latinos in 2001, Fonsi also enjoyed the honor of participating in two historic events: "Jubilee 2000," a magnum celebration of the Catholic Church in which Fonsi sang for Pope John Paul II in front of millions of people; and "El Ultimo Adiós," at the White House, commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month and invited by President George W Bush. In this event, some of Latin music's top names got together to lend their support to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Fonsi, a true showman, has taken his tour on the road all over Latin America, the United States and the Caribbean. He caused quite a stir in Spain; sold-out Orlando's Universal Studios; and, with his Musical Explosion Tour 2001, showed his talents in some of America's top amusement parks.
In January of last year, Fonsi was one of the stars featured in the half-time show at the Florida Orange Bowl and in September, millions of TV viewers were able to appreciate his energetic style when he participated in one of the most important beauty contests, the Miss America Pageant, held in New Jersey.
Now, with Amor Secreto, Fonsi gets to show better than ever why there is no one else like him.
"I see all this as part of my development process. One matures, evolves," says the artist about his growth on Amor Secreto. "It is extremely important to give the audiences something new, and I think we were able to achieve that."
Besides being a composer - of the album's 12 songs, Fonsi wrote three, Entrégate, Díselo Ya and Me lo dijo el silencio - the artist also makes his debut as the record's executive producer.
Who better than he to move forward his own vision? A vision that has become a reality twice: besides Amor Secreto, Fonsi simultaneously recorded, an English-language album for MCA Records that is scheduled for release this summer.
"Six songs of the Spanish album will have their English versions on the MCA album," says the interpreter of No te cambio por ninguna. "The rest will be different for both albums."
Why go through the trouble of making two albums at once?
Again, Fonsi's vision comes into play.
"Most of the artists that have done the famous 'crossover', have released an album that has some songs in Spanish and some in English," explains Fonsi. "I wanted to break away from that, and give the Spanish-language audience its own album, and one entirely for the English-language speakers. This, of course, means more work and many more songs, but I think people deserve that."
Looking for the most innovative sounds and at the same time remain true to the romantic and pop style that is Fonsi's signature, the singer recorded the album in Miami, where he currently resides, Los Angeles, New York and Stockholm, Sweden.
Some of the music industry's most renowned producers worked on this album: Rudy Pérez, who wrote the first single for Amor Secreto, Quisiera poder olvidarme de ti, and who was responsible for Fonsi's second album, Eterno; veteran Tulio Cremisini; as well as North American and Swedish masters of the pop sound.
It was in Sweden where Fonsi found the right ingredients to complement his already successful pop formula.
"The Swedes have a very unique and interesting approach to pop," says the artist, who is as comfortable singing a ballad as he is singing an up-tempo song. "Their melodies are very commercial, and I wanted to apply that concept to the most modern rhythms we could find. In both albums, audiences are going to be able to enjoy some very interesting fusions, a pop melody, for example, mixed with hip hop or rock. It's all a matter of looking for something different, so as not to repeat oneself."
Fonsi was so determined to stay ahead of the latest music trends, that when he began working on the Spanish album last March, some of the songs didn't sound as fresh as he wanted, so he searched for other material. That constant search to look for the best is something natural in Luis Fonsi, one of three children (his siblings Jean Carlos, 21, and Tatiana, 19, also sing), born in Puerto Rico and brought up in Orlando, Florida.
In school, Fonsi made use of his vocal abilities by joining doo-wop style groups such as Big Guys. Eclectic in his tastes, Fonsi grew up listening to Stevie Wonder and Marc Anthony, Michael Jackson and Luis Miguel. And although he sang mostly in English, his first big break came singing in Spanish.
Universal Music Latino offered Fonsi the opportunity to record an album in Spanish. The company saw him as a natural artist, with nothing fake about him. At the time, a student at Florida State University, Fonsi accepted the offer immediately.
"I wasn't going to say no just because I wanted to sing in English. I always dreamt of being able to sing in both languages. What I wanted was to live exactly all that I am living right now."
With a brand new video shot by director Juan Marrero in Madrid, Spain for the song Quisiera poder olvidarme de ti; a promotional campaign as spokesperson for the Frito-Lay company in Puerto Rico; extensive worldwide publicity for the upcoming months; the release of the English-language album; and many live presentations, this will undoubtedly be Luis Fonsi's year.
"We are working on a lot of things. This year is going to be full to the brim," says Fonsi excitedly. "But this is what I've always wanted. To take my music to the people, be it in Spanish or in English. And I guarantee you this, no matter what happens with the English-language album, I will never, ever, stop singing in Spanish."