Leila Cobo: Decoding Despacito

Leo Sidran By

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Before she became a journalist, writer, novelist, television show host, and the editor of Latin music coverage for Billboard magazine, Leila Cobo played the piano. She moved from her home in Colombia to New York to study classical piano at the Manhattan School of Music. Music was her mode of transportation.

Eventually she channeled her love of music and her understanding of Latin music and culture into writing, and today she's one of the most important advocates for Latin music in America. Her new book Decoding Despacito features 19 oral histories about some of the biggest and most significant latin hits of the last 50 years.

With two acclaimed novels, two top-selling biographies and a landmark Latin music industry guide, Leila is one of the world's foremost experts in Latin music, as well as a prolific published author and speaker and the VP of Latin content for Billboard, widely recognized as the Bible of music worldwide.

We spoke recently about the book, her personal journey, and the nuances of Latin music within the context of American popular culture.

Be sure to hang in through the introduction (which I did partially in Spanish for full effect). The episode IS IN ENGLISH after those first few minutes.

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