Edgar Barrera & Keityn Share the Stories Behind the Songs During Superstar Songwriter Panel at Latin Music Week 2023


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Superstar songwriters Edgar Barrera and Keityn — the power duo behind songs such as Shakira’s “El Jefe” and Maluma’s “Hawái” — spoke at length about the process behind songwriting for some of today’s biggest stars during the Superstar Songwriters panel at Latin Music Week on Wednesday (Oct. 4).


Presented by Sony Music Publishing and moderated by Billboard‘s Leila Cobo, the pair also spoke about their humble beginnings, passion for songwriting and protecting songwriters rights. Read the best quotes from the Superstar Songwriters panel below:

Discovering Their Love for Music

Edgar Barrera: “I was raised on the border. My passion comes from being bicultural. I would go to school in the U.S. and listen to music in English there. Then, when I’d go home in Mexico, we’d hear Mexican music. When I was 6 or 7 years old, I was already playing the guitar. I’d write songs for our band. We’d rehearse all the time but never really perform.”

Keityn: “My dad is also a singer and he would talk about it so much that at one point, I didn’t like it. It wasn’t my dream to be in music — I actually wanted to be a soccer player. But when I was 8 years old, I got sick and couldn’t move my left leg, so my mom gifted me a guitar, and that’s when I learned how to play it and started falling in love with music again.”

The Story Behind “Frágil” by Yahritza Y Su Esencia and Grupo Frontera

Barrera: “I had sent ‘Frágil’ to Christian Nodal and we were looking for a feature. At one point, we heard Nodal and Karol G wanted to do something together, so we thought that could be the song. But then nothing happened and the song was just sitting on WhatsApp and Nodal never recorded it. I had a session with Yahritza at 11 a.m. one day, and I didn’t have anything written for her. I called Keityn and he reminded me about ‘Frágil.’ She recorded it and it was so good. When Frontera jumped on, I had Juanito record the accordion the day before his wedding, right before he left on honeymoon.”

On Writing Songs for Women

Keityn: “Karol G particularly, when we wrote ‘Tusa,’ that song is in third person, so really a man or a woman can sing that song. That works really well with Karol. If we start thinking about genders, then we are limiting ourselves.”

Barrera: “You can’t think that way anymore. We don’t have that mentality of ‘a woman can’t say this’ because why can’t women say what men sing about?”

On Protecting Songwriter Rights

Keityn: “Honestly, our rights are being impacted because now you’re seeing managers who are being credited in the songwriting portion. You see the manager, the investor. It’s really uncomfortable. Like, I get that this is a business, but they should not be included in the credits. There should be a separate part where their names can be included. Those who wrote the song should feel respected. We need to give value to that.”

Barrera: “We’re really putting a stop to that with the help of our publishers and with the Letter of Direction, we’re encouraging songwriters to send those letters. A manager taking credit or a split hasn’t affected me personally, but visually, it’s impactful to see their names there. I honestly don’t know any manager that writes songs.”

Celebrated for more than 30 years, the 2023 edition of Latin Music Week includes a Superstar Q&A with Shakira; the Legends on Legends chat with Chencho Corleone and Vico C; Making the Hit Live! with Carin León and Pedro Capó; a panel with RBD’s Christian Chávez, Christopher von Uckermann, and Maite Perroni; Superstar Songwriter discussion with Edgar Barrera and Keityn, and, among many other sessions, Q&As and workshops. See the ultimate Latin Music Week guide here. This year’s Latin Music Week, taking place Oct. 2-6, also includes showcases by Peso Pluma, Mike Bahía and Greeicy, DannyLux and Fonseca, to name a few. Check out the dates and times for the showcases throughout the week here.

Official partners of the 2023 Billboard Latin Music Week, taking place Oct. 2-6, include AT&T, Cheetos, CN Bank, Delta Air Lines, Lexus, Netflix, Michelob ULTRA and Smirnoff.

Latin Music Week coincides with the 2023 Billboard Latin Music Awards ceremony, which will broadcast live from the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Fla., on Thursday (Oct. 5) and will air on Telemundo. It will also broadcast simultaneously on Universo, Peacock, the Telemundo App, and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean on Telemundo Internacional.

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