Most Influential Colombian Music Artists

Colombian music artists are as diverse and rich as the country itself. The following singers and bands have given Colombian music an exclusive spot in the Latin music world. This list features a vibrant collage of talent that touches a full spectrum of rhythms ranging from Salsa and Vallenato to Latin Pop and Rock music. Let's take a look at Colombia's most influential artists.


Photo Courtesy Columbia
Fonseca - 'Ilusion'. Photo Courtesy Columbia

Fonseca is one of the leading artists of the so-calle Tropipop movement, a Colombian style that blends together genres like Vallenato and Cumbia with Pop, Rock and R&B. This talented singer and songwriter has created one of the most pleasant sounds in Colombia. Some of the best songs from his repertoire includes tracks like "Desde Que No Estas," "Te Mando Flores" and "Arroyito."

Joe Arroyo

Photo Courtesy Discos Fuentes/Miami Records
Photo Courtesy Discos Fuentes/Miami Records. Photo Courtesy Discos Fuentes/Miami Records

Joe Arroyo is one of the most influential artists from Colombia. His prolific career was defined by the sounds of Salsa and different Caribbean rhythms such as Merengue, Soca and Reggae. From that fusion, he created a unique music style that became known as Joeson.

In Colombia, his music career took off during the time he joined the legendary band of Fruko y sus Tesos. However, he accomplished international fame with the hits he produced during his solo career. Some of the best hits produced by this talented artist include titles such as "La Rebelion", "La Noche," "P'al Bailador" and "Suave Bruta."

Carlos Vives

Photo courtesy Philips Sonolux
Photo courtesy Philips Sonolux. Photo courtesy Philips Sonolux

Before becoming an international star, Carlos Vives was mostly known in Colombia as a soap opera actor. It was, indeed, from a popular soap opera that Carlos Vives borrowed the idea of singing Vallenato. His first Vallenato album, Clasicos de la Provincia, was a compilation of classic songs that took the country by storm.

The sounds were so catchy that the album soon moved beyond the Colombian borders. Since then, Carlos Vives has been producing Vallenato and playing around this rhythm with innovative sounds that have shaped the singer's cross-over style. Carlos Vives has enriched Latin music with an important part of the Colombian folklore.

Grupo Niche

Photo Courtesy Sony U.S. Latin
Grupo Niche - 'Cielo De Tambores'. Photo Courtesy Sony U.S. Latin

Throughout history, Colombians have developed a taste for music coming from the Caribbean. In particular, Salsa found a prosperous place in the Pacific region and cities like Quibdo, Buenaventura and Cali became infatuated with this vibrant music.

Jairo Varela, a Quibdo native, was a young and talented musician interested in producing 'Made in Colombia' Salsa. That idea gave birth to Grupo Niche, a band that brought to Salsa a new and exhilarating flavor. During the 1980s, Niche built its sound thanks to albums like No Hay Quinto Malo and Tapando El Hueco. After the release of the album Cielo de Tambores, the band consolidated its image as one of the best names names in Salsa music. Top songs by Grupo Niche include titles like "Cali Pachanguero," "Una Aventura" and "Cali Aji."


Photo courtesy Universal Latino
Photo courtesy Universal Latino. Photo courtesy Universal Latino

Juanes started his career as a member of the local Rock band Ekhymosis. After that experience, the hard Rock singer decided it was time to evolve in a different way. His album, Un Dia Normal, became an enormous success in Colombia and throughout Latin America thanks to hit songs like "A Dios Le Pido," "La Paga," and "Es Por Ti."

His next album, Mi Sangre, confirmed the talent of this already big Latin Pop star. From this work, the single "La Camisa Negra" became a number one hit in more than 43 countries around the world. His MTV Unplugged album consolidated Juanes as one of today's most influential Latin music artists.


Photo courtesy Sony U.S. Latin
Photo courtesy Sony U.S. Latin. Photo courtesy Sony U.S. Latin

Aterciopelados is a genuine example of Colombian creativity and diversity. Born with a heavy Punk flavor, the band soon perceived the need for incorporating new sounds into its Rock music. With this idea, in 1995 Aterciopelados produced El Dorado, one of the best Latin Rock albums ever recorded.

Aterciopelados music includes a collection of hits like "Bolero Falaz," "Florecita Rockera," and "Cancion Protesta.". Thanks to the talent of Andrea Echeverri (singer) and Hector Buitrago (bass player), the band has been able to create a cross-over style that is both dynamic and harmonious. Aterciopelados is at the very top of the Latin Rock genre.


Photo courtesy Sony
Photo courtesy Sony. Photo courtesy Sony

Shakira has produced an incredible repertoire that has been shaped by her unique talent as a singer, songwriter and producer. Thanks to this and her global approach to music, Shakira has been able to open up the world to herself bringing the best of Colombia to every corner in the planet.

Shakira met success at a very young age. Her album Pies Descalzos took Colombia and Latin America by storm. After Donde Estan Los Ladrones and Laundry Service her career has been marked with worldwide hits including songs like "Hips Don't Lie," "La Tortura," "She Wolf" and "Loca." A cross-over style artist who has captured audiences with her sensual dancing, Shakira tops the list of the most influential Colombian music artists.