Canta Contest Winners

  From the left: Benny Ibarra, Tommy Torres, Rodrigo Davila, Alexander Acha, and Mane de la Parra received special alumni awards before performing in Berklee Canta en Español at the Lunario del Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City.
  From left: Berklee Canta en Español Executive Producer Javier Samayoa, grand-prize winners Daniel Dayz and Joel Waldman.

While recent Berklee grads were spending their summers networking, Javier Samayoa '09 was working to become a global impresario. The music business/management major from Guatemala City, Guatemala, spent his summer in Mexico City, fine-tuning an unprecedented concert that would feature top Mexican alumni pop stars and Latin American alumni and students who were finalists in the second annual Berklee Canta en Español songwriting contest. Samayoa executed a final coup when he engaged Televisa, Latin American's largest television network, to tape the concert at the Lunario del Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City. The program has been broadcast three times this winter to 60 countries.

The concert evolved from the original Berklee Canta en Español songwriting contest that Samayoa organized in 2008. For the second contest, Samayoa-together with the Spanish artist rights organization Sociedad General de Autores y Editores-raised the stakes even higher. The goal was to feature the finalists on the same stage as some of the most promising Latin pop artists who have studied at Berklee. Music-industry judges were to choose the winner based on participants' live performances. The plan took a year to hatch; but in the end, Samayoa had booked up-and-coming artists who had made a big impact in Mexico and throughout Latin America.

The list included rising stars Benny Ibarra '90; Tommy Torres '93; and Motel, featuring Rodrigo Davila '01, Alexander Acha '03, and Mane de la Parra '05. On the afternoon of the concert, Torres learned that the song "Looking for Paradise," a duet sung by Alejandro Sanz and Alicia Keys that he cowrote and produced, was the number-one song in Mexico. A month later, Acha received the news that he had won a Latin Grammy award in the Best New Artist category.

Berklee Canta en Español contest finalists were alumni Rique Colón '05 of San Juan; Puerto Rico; Cristal Marie '05 of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; the band Pop Filter of Mexico City; and current Berklee student Juliana Ronderos from Bogotá, Colombia. The contest ended in a tie between alumni Daniel Dayz of Mexico City and Joel Waldman of Bogotá, each of whom received a fully produced music video for broadcast on Televisa and on MySpace Latino. Judging the contest were Alejandro Abaroa, the director of A&R for Warner Music Mexico; Ana Villacorta, the general director of Movistar International Record Label; and singer/songwriter Sole Giménez.

Samayoa has gone from one high point to another. Following the concert, he worked in Miami and Las Vegas as an associate producer for the Latin Grammy Awards. He is now considering work offers in Los Angeles and Mexico as well as returning to songwriting and performing with his band.