Latinas Who Changed the Game in the Music Industry: From Selena Quintanilla to Shakira

Latinas Who Changed the Game in the Music Industry: From Selena Quintanilla to Shakira

Let's review some of the most influential female pioneers during this National Hispanic Heritage Month

Archivado en: Celia Cruz  •   Gloria Estefan  •   Gloria Trevi  •   Ivy Queen  •   Jennifer López  •   Selena Quintanilla  •   Shakira  •   Thalía  •  

Latinas in music have left a profound and diverse legacy over the years, significantly contributing to the evolution and enrichment of the music scene in Latin America and around the world. From the pioneers to contemporary icons, these female artists have challenged stereotypes, broken barriers, and inspired entire generations with their music and cultural influence.

In honor of National Heritage Month, we will highlight some of the most influential figures in Latin music, from early pioneers like Selena Quintanilla, Celia Cruz, Gloria Estefan, Ivy Queen, and Shakira, whose creative legacy explains the growth and development of younger artists like Becky G, Karol G, María Becerra, or TINI, who continue to shape and redefine the Latin music landscape.

Long live our Latina artists!

Selena Quintanilla

Also known as the «Queen of Tejano Music,» her contributions to Latin music are truly immeasurable, leaving behind a highly personal and distinctive aesthetic legacy. The Mexican-American artist propelled Tejano music into the mainstream with full force. With hits like «Como la Flor» and «Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,» Selena Quintanilla sold over 65 million records worldwide, becoming the first Latina artist in history to debut at number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with her album «Dreaming of You.»

The superstar’s tragic murder at the hands of Yolanda Zaldívar, the president of her fan club, deeply shook the Latin community worldwide, with fans traveling thousands of miles to pay their respects to the young artist, who was only 23 years old.

Celia Cruz

Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso, also known as Celia Cruz, is one of the greatest Latin artists of the 20th century. The Cuban singer gained fame in the 1950s as a guaracha singer, earning the nickname «La Guarachera de Cuba.» She later became known worldwide as the «Queen of Salsa» for her stellar contributions to the genre. Cruz sold over 10 million copies worldwide and left us with a legacy of 37 studio albums. Iconic hits like «La Vida Es Un Carnaval» are star anthems that cannot be absent from any celebration.

Gloria Estefan

Gloria Estefan is one of the most successful artists of all time, with over 90 million music productions sold worldwide. Winner of three Grammy Awards and five Latin Grammy Awards, the Cuban artist is considered a trailblazer who paved the way for a whole generation of Latin singers who would follow, including the iconic Selena Quintanilla, Shakira, and Ricky Martin, among others. An example of resilience after returning to the stage following a serious accident during a 1990 tour, Estefan has given us anthems like «Conga,» «Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,» and an iconic version of «Turn the Beat Around.»

Ana Gabriel

Popularly known as the «Diva of America» and «The Moon of America,» Ana Gabriel boasts a 49-year career with popular songs like «No te hago falta.» The Mexican artist achieved international success in the late 1980s with «Simplemente Amigos» and «Ay Amor,» displaying incredible songwriting skills and an innate ability to connect with the audience.

Gloria Trevi

Gloria de los Ángeles Treviño Ruiz, popularly known as Gloria Trevi, is one of the timeless divas of Latin pop. In fact, she is nicknamed «The Supreme Diva of Mexican Pop.» With a legacy that straddles the boundary between groundbreaking and controversial, Trevi is a true pioneer in singing about taboo subjects when no one else would. She has also been a staunch advocate for the LGBTQ+ community for decades, as she discussed in a recent interview with LOS40 USA.


The Mexican artist and entrepreneur has been prominent since the 1970s as a member of the youth group Timbiriche, achieving international fame in the 1990s. Throughout her career, Thalía has solidified her status as one of the divas of Latin pop, selling over 40 million records in her solo career. Among her major hits are «Amor a la Mexicana,» «Piel Morena,» «¿A quién le importa,» and «No me Enseñaste,» among others. In fact, the singer has also ventured into reggaeton with the iconic «No me Acuerdo,» featuring Dominican singer Natti Natasha.

Ivy Queen

Martha Ivelisse Pesante Rodriguez had a clear vision when she decided to become Ivy Queen, a.k.a the Queen of Reggaeton. She was the most popular pioneer in urban music and one of the few women who managed to make a name for herself in a male-dominated industry. Her songs «Quiero Bailar» and «Dile» are timeless hits, and her empowered lyrics made a difference and changed the role of women in the scene.


Shakira displayed innate musical talent from her adolescence. Her music career took off in the 1990s with her album Pies Descalzos, although it was her 1998 album ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones? that would solidify her international stardom. The Colombian legend has gifted us with a plethora of hits, including «Loba,» «Loca,» «Rabiosa,» «Hips Don’t Lie,» «La Tortura,» among others. She has demonstrated an immense ability to adapt to various musical genres and continuously innovate, from reggaeton to bachata, and even regional Mexican music.

Jennifer Lopez

 J.Lo made a significant impact in the entertainment industry. Born in The Bronx, New York, in 1969, (as she sings in the iconinc «Jenny From the Block»), she began her career as a dancer and later ventured into acting, achieving fame with her portrayal of Selena Quintanilla in the 1997 biographical film «Selena.» However, it was her foray into music that solidified her status as a pop icon. Her debut album, «On the 6,» featuring hits like «If You Had My Love» and «Waiting for Tonight,» marked her transition into the music industry. Jennifer Lopez has continued to release chart-topping songs and has earned accolades for her versatile talents, making her a celebrated figure in both music and film.