Carlos Rivera: from ‘Remember me’ to duets with song legends

Coco’s peak, the masterpiece of Pixar, an indelible tribute to Mexican culture and the Day of the Dead, is summed up in a song. Miguel, the protagonist, sings to his grandmother Coco ‘Remember me’. There are not many options. The audience sighs or cries without shame. “Remember me / Today I have to go, my love / Remember me / Don’t cry, please …”.

The sweet voice that wrinkles the heart is actually that of Carlos Rivera. The Mexican had a long way in his career when composition came into his life. “When I started to feature with Remember Me, it was like a reaffirmation of ‘here I am.’ For me, as a Mexican, it meant a lot, because it is a song, a movie and a story that represents our culture. The Day of the Dead is something that is not necessarily celebrated throughout the country; but from the region where I’m from, yes –Huamantla, in Tlaxcala–. So when the people from Disney and Pixar and I show them the offerings that I make every year, it was beautiful. My grandmother taught us that and Remember Me was a song that I dedicated to her, when I saw the story of ‘Coco’, I said: ‘That was my grandmother’ ”.

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Rivera is 35 years old and a tenor. Three albums of ballads and several appearances on television and theater in his country are his letters of introduction. After overcoming countless difficulties due to the pandemic, the interpreter has just released Leyendas, his most recent album that continues to vibrate with nostalgia and in which he performs duets with figures of the Ibero-American song such as José Luis Perales, José Luis Rodríguez ‘ El Puma ‘, Raphael, Roberto Carlos, Gloria Estefan, Franco de Vita, Omara Portuondo and the deceased José José, Mercedes Sosa, Luis Eduardo Aute, Camilo Sesto, Juan Gabriel, Rocío Dúrcal and Armando Manzanero.

How did you choose the songs on the album?

It was super complicated. We agreed with the artists in which song we sang until we found the ideal one, some were even personal requests, for example, with Gloria Estefan, that having My land and With the years that I have left and so many successful songs, I asked him to record this one –You can get there–, because when I went through hard times in my career I did not know what was going to happen and there were not many opportunities, I always listened to it to encourage me, to think that you can go far and the stars reach and everything that the song says. When I met Gloria I told her: ‘You don’t know it, but you helped me a lot with that issue and that today I’m here fulfilling dreams I owe it to you, so I would like us to sing this song together and now take the message to the new generations and the world that today needs to hear him. ‘

Almost with each song he has a personal story …

Exactly! Hold on to your hands, from Puma, was the first one I sang on stage when I was 8 years old, in a contest they did at school. My mother always had the Puma cassette in her car, so I asked her to lend it to me to get on the stage. Now, playing her in a duet with him means a lot.
I have listened to José Luis Perales my whole life, I know all his songs; Raphael … such an interpreter, I saw him in Viña del Mar, when I was on the jury, and to see the public surrendered to his feet, I only said: “I want to be like him when I have those years of career, continue filling places and moving to the people”.

Franco de Vita is my teacher, he was the one who supported me when I was just beginning my career, in those hard moments that I am telling you, he invited me to sing, the two times I sang in Bogotá and Barranquilla was while I accompanied him on his tour.

The arrangements make the songs sound different, because they are all classics.

The album features two Colombian producers: Julio Reyes Copello, which produced A sailboat called freedom, You from what you go and The hymn of my heart, and Andres Castro, who participated in Hold Your Hands and Eternal Love.

We wanted to refresh. These are songs that have been around for many years, we wanted it to be a contemporary album, that lifelong compositions would also sound up to the present, and that’s why we chose several producers.

There is certainly an emotional link between ‘Remember Me’ and the ‘Legends’ album.

I think that before Remember Me, the song that took us back to our ancestors was Eternal Love, by Juan Gabriel sung by Rocío Dúrcal. When I sang it, the excitement of performing Remember me at the time came to my head, the happiness of being able to continue giving that music to people.

I do not forget what it causes’Remember me’ live on stage, or the feelings it generated in the film, and that is when one connects with memories, something very powerful is born, and this work has that and I am accompanying the nostalgia, waiting for them to get excited, to revive the feelings that we need to remove to dream again and maintain the connection with those we love. They are those powerful phrases that we repeat in Legends: “You can go far, hold on to the hands that together we can go where we have never gone, I want to take this song friends to whoever might need it.” They are phrases that every time I hear or sing them, they cheer me up, they make me smile and I hope that happens to people.

In Twitter: @ s0f1c1ta

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