NBC Live Interview With Leila: NBC Miami
Live Interview, Telemundo, Acceso Total: Telemundo Acceso Total
Univision News: Univisionnews
PRAISE FOR THE SECOND TIME WE MET
LEILA ON PA’LANTE MAGAZINE: LEILA COBO PA’LANTE
THE 2011 BILLBOARD LATIN MUSIC CONFERENCE IN PICTURES
ENTREVISTA DE LEILA COBO EN RADIO AL AIRE; ENTREVISTA RADIO AL AIRE
BOOK CLUB QUEEN’S INTERVIEW WITH LEILA COBO: Queenie\’s Interview with Leila Cobo
READ LEILA’S INTERVIEW ON LATINVISION HERE:
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Leila Cobo, Executive Editor for Latin Content and Programming, Billboard; expert in Latin music and culture and Writer.
Being Hispanic, does it have any influence on your business?
More than being Hispanic, understanding the Hispanic marketplace, culture and mindset are essential to my job and to Billboard’s Latin business in general. Of course, as a Colombian native—born and raised—this is my culture. You can’t serve a constituency that you don’t understand, and perhaps most important, that you don’t respect.
In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
I try not to dwell on the past. It’s been a tough lesson to learn! But I try to never look back. Self-critique is a wonderful thing, but dwelling on mistakes that can no longer be corrected seriously hampers progress. It’s like playing tennis. You go point by point. The minute you dwell on the previous point, you’re dead.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
My biggest challenge is ongoing. It’s convincing the mainstream that Latinos or Hispanics are part of that mainstream. We are not a niche. We are not a quota. We are part of the fabric of this country, and anyone who fails to realize this is not recognizing the reality of this country and is missing out on tremendous business opportunities. This doesn’t mean hitting anyone over the head with everything Latin. But sometimes, I’ll be watching TV series that are allegedly set in Miami or New York or Los Angeles, to give an example, and there isn’t’ a single Latin in there! And I have to wonder, do the people that write these scripts live in these cities? Do they ever go out and walk around and look and the people that surround them? You cannot possibly live in this country and fail to see that Hispanics are as much a part of it as African Americans or Asians, or Italian Americans or any other ethnic group you can think of.
If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
Work less and travel more.
What was your childhood ambition?
To be a Broadway star!
Tell us about three people that you admire?
-My father, who died a little over 10 years ago, was a surgeon but was also the head of a non profit organization and a visionary. He founded the school of medicine in Cali, my hometown, the psychiatric hospital and fought to incorporate residencies into the medical program, going against the establishment at the time. Most important, he was a brilliant, curious and very open minded man. He was a trailblazer and he made a positive difference in many people’s lives.
-Freddy Mercury: I never met the man, but to me he was truly the complete artist: Great singer, great composer, great showman and such a musician. Not a single facet was compromised.
-Stephen King: Prolific and with an endless supply of imagination.
For meetings: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
I could go on and on about this, but first and foremost, I’ll say I’m very blessed to have a job that allows me to work from home and achieve great balance between family and work. I’m married to a recording artist, so we’re both mutually respectful of our crazy schedules and unorthodox obligations. But if anything, I’ve made professional sacrifices for family. When I had my first child 14 years ago, I worked in the Los Angeles Times, and they declined to allow me to work even a couple of days from home. I left for a job that allowed me greater flexibility. Today, the mentality is quite different and working from home is so common. I have to say that companies that do not appreciate or respect the necessity of balancing family and work—particularly when it’s so easy to telecommute—are missing the boat. Whenever I met with resistance to this concept, I moved on. If you balance things out, if you are organized in your work and if you deliver, it IS possible to have your cake and eat it too, and in the process, share it with everybody else. Having a balanced life allows you to be so much more productive in your work. Everyone benefits.
What is your favorite quote?
At this moment it is: The positive always defeats the negative.
Is it difficult to be unconventional?
It’s difficult to be a woman and be forceful and direct. As we’ve all seen time and time again, at all levels and in all disciplines: if a man is forceful, he is strong, or a leader. If a woman is forceful, she is a b… In my case, it’s very important to me to be honest and upfront. This is at the core of my job and being straightforward and sticking to my word has been a crucial element in establishing and maintaining relationships for many years.
Biggest mistake made?
Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
More than an innovator I consider myself a very passionate advocate. The innovation is a result of that. With Latin media and content, we really are creating as we go, and it’s about defending your position and your ideals. My job is not just a job. Never. It is something I feel and believe in very, very deeply. And I like to think that at the end of the day, I’ve made a difference for my company, and—perhaps more important—that I’ve made a difference in the lives of the artists I cover.
Leila in Jet Set Magazine
“Crazy fabulous” Badge of Distinction from Crasy-For-Books.com
The plot of this story was very engaging. Although I wouldn’t say it is unique, the characters are what make this story. The plot is almost secondary to the characterization of Gabriella, Helena, and Angel. Their growth through the novel is what kept it moving along. I wanted to know more about them. I did enjoy the plot and the questions that are raised with Helena’s infidelity. For example, on that final flight – was Helena going to Cali to break off the affair or was she going there to stay forever, leaving her husband and young daughter behind?
The relationship between Gabriella and Angel was wonderful, perfect, shocking, and sad. Toward the end of the novel, I was in tears. I did not predict some of the things that happened, so I was truly shocked when they happened. This book definitely gets high marks for shocking this reader!
I loved the setting in Columbia! It’s so different from what I’m used to reading and I found that it was portrayed very realistically. After I finished the book, I read a bit on the author and she is actually from Cali, so that would explain the attention to detail! This was a great setting for a story and I found myself drawn right into it, picturing myself right there with the characters.
I really enjoyed this story immensely and I would definitely recommend it to any contemporary fiction lovers. The setting in Columbia is fantastic and I loved these characters. This book gets the Crazy Fabulous Badge of Distinction!
Family secrets fill “Stunning” debut novel
Review by Barbara Clark (for bookpage.com)
Leila Cobo, Executive Editor of Latin Content and Programming for Billboard, addresses media in PR.
By Latin Music Examiner
For the first time ever, Puerto Rico will become the capital of Latin music when the 21st edition of the Billboard Latin Music Conference kicks off in San Juan today, culminating with the Billboard Latin Music Awards to be held on Thursday at the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in Hato Rey.
During the event — the largest gathering of the Latin music industry in the United States (and probably the world) — numerous Latin music stars, high-ranking recording label execs, award-winning songwriters, industry insiders and specialized media outlets will converge to honor artists and discuss everything from new online marketing strategies to the evolution of the Latin urban movement.
As in previous editions, one of the key speakers and moderators of the event will be Leila Cobo, Executive Editor for Latin Content and Programming for Billboard and coordinator of the Billboard Latin Music Conference.
This year, she’ll sit down on one-on-one interviews with merengue star Elvis Crespo to talk about the state and evolution of tropical music; the CEO of Universal Music Latin America Jesús López, who’ll offer his views on the state of today’s Latin music industry and where it is headed and salsa/pop star Marc Anthony, who’ll talk about his newest film projects, philanthropy, his upcoming new album and the Miami Dolphins. She’ll also interview the top-selling urban bachata group, Aventura.
Cobo, a Fulbright scholar who hails from Colombia, is also a writer. She recently published her debut novel “Tell Me Something True,” a story of two women — a mother and daughter — and the love affairs that changed their lives. Under Cobo’s tenure, Billboard has expanded its coverage of Latin music and even included a complete weekly section dedicated solely to the Latin global soundscape.
Last week, Cobo shared some insights into the Latin music industry with the Latin Music Examiner and the following is the complete Q&A.
1) Is there a fresh, new sound out there that represents the 2010 Latin music generation? It seems to me that, although still popular, reggaetón is not as powerful as it was before and actually has morphed into a whole new, electronica-driven genre that doesn’t sound at all to its rootsy original formula. What do you think will be the next hot Latin sound?
I really don’t see a concrete “next” sound. I think bachata has gained new life thanks to Aventura, and although no other bachata act comes even close to their success, there is renewed interest in the genre. What I do see is a growing Latin urban movement that is very different from the mainstream in that it is really a blend of pop (I guess a la Rihanna or Jay-Z), danceable, that blends a little of tradition—salsa, merengue, bachata—with reggaeton, R&B and other urban sounds. I hear it in acts like Aventura (again), Wisin y Yandel, Don Omar, Chino y Nacho now … that kind of thing is relatively new and beginning to work in and out of the U.S.
2) In your opinion, as a seasoned and respected Latin music industry insider, what’s the state of the Latin music industry internationally and where is it headed? (Considering the dramatic 360 degree shift in music-making that happened during the last decade as a result of the Internet and social networking sites such as Myspace and Facebook, to cite a few.)
Well, on the one hand you don’t have that “crossover” boom that seemed to put Latin music on the world map 10 years ago. What we see now is perhaps a more organic acceptance of Latin music. Of course, there are acts like Shakira, who by now I consider completely mainstream, and then there are acts like Juanes, who are intrinsically Latin but well known outside his core audience. But these big crossover acts, with this big machinery behind them, I don’t see that happening anymore. Overall, Latin music has suffered greatly in this crisis, in part because our digital market has yet to catch up to the mainstream and because piracy is so rampant in Latin America. But at the same time I think audiences in general are more open to new sounds.
3) With so many talented up-and-coming Latin artists from every genre all over the place, why does it seem like only a few actually stand out from the pack today? Or those who do are actually seasoned Latin music stars who are reinventing themselves and reaching out to younger generations? (Many of these seem more like cookie-cutter performers and entertainers and less than true artists with composing or singing talents.)
I think media in general is terrible for developing acts. And in Latin media, the discrepancy is so glaring because there’s less outlets. Big TV shows are very very reluctant to open up to new, or different acts. And this is really a big shame. I roll my eyes every time I see these shows and they feature the same five names. So, if it appears that only a few stand out, perhaps that’s’ because the media only highlights those few. But believe me, there are more. I think it’s rather ironically humorous to hear people talking about Aventura — again — as if they were some new group who, out of nowhere, filled five Coliseos and four Madison Square Gardens, when in fact, thev’e been together for over a decade. But it took this long for media to notice. Something strange happens in the Latin realm: Artists first have to prove themselves and THEN get media, rather than the other way round.
4) Of these new breed of Latin music pop novelties (say, Kany García, Ana Isabelle, to cite only two), who do you think actually has a chance to reach international stardom?
I believe international stardom is next to impossible outside the Spanish speaking world if an artist sings in Spanish. If by “international stardom” you mean crossover success to the mainstream American market or Europe, that cannot happen at a large scale unless the artist sings in English. And quite frankly, I don’t think many of these artists are dying to sing in English either.
5) Calle 13 is in the process of crossing over into the U.S. Anglo market … do you think that in this day and age it’s still necessary to conquer U.S. audiences before crossing over the Atlantic to Europe and Asia? And why?
I was not aware that Calle 13 was doing this. Having said that, I think there’s no formula. I find that successful acts each chart their own path.
6) Is Latin music as a whole in a creative slump? — except of course, for some tropical genres such as bachata and merengue that are making a comeback.
I think it had a slump a couple of years ago, but there were great albums last year. I really don’t think the slump is creative; it’s an economical slump and as such it limits what acts can do. To me the issue, as far as creativity goes, is that album sales have gone down, but promotional and marketing costs have gone up. This is a bad combination and hinders music development.
7) Depending on how it goes this year production wise, do you think there’s a chance that the Billboard Latin Music Awards be held in Puerto Rico again next year or the year after?
I really can’t answer that. But I do think it was a great choice to come here in 2010. It’s a musical hotbed.
Aventura is arguably the hottest urban-tropical act today, why do you think that’s true?
Aventura is the top selling Latin act in the market today. They had the top selling album of 2009 and the top selling album so far in 2010. I think they’ve worked very hard, very steadily and have a sound all their own that appeals to many people, including a bicultural, bilingual audience.
9) Will all multinational record labels and CDs cease to exist? And if not, what do you think will keep them afloat or alive?
Not at all. I would say that the overwhelming majority of acts that are successful as independents used to be on a major label that nurtured them and spent huge sums of money in their development. That money allows them to survive as indies today. I do think labels are in the process of revisiting and changing the way they do business.
10) More and more veteran Latin (and U.S.) artists these days are breaking off their ties with their labels (the latest Jennifer López with Sony) and launching their own recording/marketing companies. Aside from giving them more creative freedom, do you think this trend has led (and will lead) to more organic, out-of-the-box, indie type of music from these artists?
Actually I don’t. And Jennifer López I believe (don’t quote me, because I’m not sure) has signed with another big label. As I said above, very few acts can pull this off.
11) Will there ever be a 100 percent Latin “American Idol”? Why hasn’t there been one in nearly a decade? By 100% Latin, do you mean singing in Spanish? Or simply Latin?
Singing in Spanish, it wont’ happen. It’s the U.S. And the language is English. And I see nothing wrong with that.
12) Do you think socially-conscious Latin artists should be allowed to perform in Cuba, and those who do then do it in Miami or elsewhere in the U.S.?
I think artists should perform wherever they want. It’s up to audiences if they want to see them or not. Having said that, artists who perform in Cuba are not automatically socially conscious. I really don’t understand how those two concepts became synonymous: Performs in Cuba = socially conscious? As a Colombian I have a real problem with that statement. It implies that to prove their good faith, artists need to visit Cuba. Why? There is a ton of socially conscious work to be done all over Latin America and there are tons of socially conscious acts who do good works every day, but perhaps don’t spend all their time publicizing it.
14) How important do you think is the Puerto Rican music market to Billboard and the U.S. Latin music scene?
Extremely important. Puerto Rico is still a market that sells music and that breaks acts. Many labels actively work Puerto Rico first as part of their strategic plan for an artist. Luis Enrique is a great example.
15) Do you think that if Ricky Martin had come out of the closet a decade ago when he was riding a wave of success with “Livin’ la vida loca” it would have deeply affected his career in terms of album sales?
Impossible to say …
16) What’s the toughest part of producing/hosting the Billboard Awards? Any funny or odd anecdotes from previous shows that you can share with the PR audience?
Mm. I gotta think about this one!
Entrevista CNN Radio en Espanol
For All Spanish speakers, read the interview on Emilio Ichikawa’s page:
“TELL ME SOMETHING TRUE” MAKES SLHW’s LIST OF TOP 10 HISPANIC BOOKS OF 2009, AND LEILA COBO MAKES LIST OF TOP 5 NEW WRITERS
SLHW’s List of Top 10 Hispanic Books of 2009
The Society of Latino and Hispanic Writers of San Antonio has issued its Top 10 List of the Best Hispanic Books of 2009:
1. Confetti Girl by Diana Lopez
2. GI Bones by Martin Limon
3. Dancing with Butterflies by Reyna Grande
4. The Invisible Mountain by Carolina De Robertis
5. B as in Beauty by Alberto Ferreras
6. Amigoland by Oscar Casares
7. Damas, Drama and Ana Ruiz by Belinda Acosta
8. Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Bejamin Alire Saenz
9. Diego: Bigger Than Life by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
10. Tell me Something True by Leila Cobo
With regards to Latino Authors who have released their debut books, here are some of the best ones that have come across my desk:
1. Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa “Daughters of the Stone”
2. Belinda Acosta, Damas, Drama and Ana Ruiz
3. Julia Amante, Evenings at the Argentine Club
4. Leila Cobo, Tell Me Something True
5. The Invisible Mountain, Carolina De Robertis
LEILA COBO AMONG LATINOSTORIES.COM’s TOP TEN WRITERS TO WATCH:
This first novel, one of the best that I have read all year, throws question after question at the reader and tosses us all back to our first loves and the choices we may or may not have made. Gabriella loses herself and finds herself in this entangled story. And we do the same.” -ReviewBroads
Tell Me Something True, while a debut novel, should be successful because it is raw, passionate, honest and fearless. -Examiner.com
“Definitely a book worth reading. This is a great novel about coming to terms with your past and understand what effect it has, and doesn’t have, on your future.” –Krishna’s Books
“A plot that leaves the reader asking for the follow-up.” -Semana
“This heartwrenching story focuses on how memories permeate the everyday relationships between mothers and daughters.” -RT (4/5 stars)
“A poignant tale of truths hidden and laid bare.” –Booklist
“A sweet debut novel […] the smooth prose and authentic Colombian setting provide a unique spin to familiar territory.” Publisher’s Weekly
“A good story, delicately told with pathos and compassion.”
Cobo’s sweet debut novel is the story of two women—a mother and daughter—and the love affairs that irrevocably changed their lives. Gabriella, 21, is a piano prodigy raised by her wealthy grandmother in Colombia and her movie producer father in Los Angeles. Her mother, Helena, was a renowned photographer who died when Gabriella was four. When she attends a party in the Hollywood Hills, Gabriella meets Angel, the man of her dreams. There’s one catch: he’s a mobster. As Gabriella tries to reconcile her conflicted feelings toward Angel, she discovers her mother’s diary. Soon she is drawn into Helena’s secret life, one that involved a passionate love affair. Betrayed and confused, Gabriela tries to find her mother’s lover. But when her own romance begins to spiral out of control, Gabriella must come to terms with the fact that she’s very much her mother’s daughter. Cobo’s well-drawn characters help bolster the story when Gabriella’s tragic romance occasionally slides into melodrama. The smooth prose and authentic Colombian settings provide a unique spin to familiar territory. (Oct.)
Tell Me Something True By Leila Cobo
Publish Date: 10/1/2009
Tell Me Something True was one of the many that I read during my short hiatus. It was part of the Hispanic Heritage Month giveaway package here a couple of months ago if you remember. I read through this book in a couple of hours because, again, I couldn’t put it down. I just love books that can capture your attention this way and hold it.
Gabriella is a child of two worlds. She lives with her American father in Beverly Hills, the land of movie stars, wealth, plastic surgeries and acne treatments, but once a year she visit her grandmother in Columbia, a tradition that started soon after her mother’s untimely death in a plane crash when she was just a little girl. It is during one of these visits that several things happened to change her life. The main thing is, she comes across a diary written by her dead mother. Reading her mother’s words, she not only learns more about her but she also learns a secret that changes the way she looks at her life and her relationship with her family. Learning that her mother had an affair during one of her trips home to Colombia unsettled her and made her feel a bit rebellious. She felt betrayed that the image she had of her mother was all wrong. That maybe the picture she had held in her mind is not the truth. Maybe that was one reason she was drawn to Angel, the son of a convicted drug dealer, who she met at a party in Cali. Maybe with Angel she felt she was getting a taste of what her mother must have felt.
This story is beautifully written. Every detail, every event flowed perfectly in a way that you just didn’t want to put it down. You want to keep turning the page to see what happens next. By the end of the book, you are so deeply entrenched that you don’t want it to end. I certainly didn’t. I wanted the story to continue. I wanted to see what happened next to all the characters involved. I was left literally wanting more.
Como en casa en ‘Estudio Billboard’
Leila Cobo entrevista a músicos en el programa de V-Me
Leila Cobo ha forjado su carrera periodística entrevistando a músicos para publicaciones como Billboard, donde actualmente se desempeña como editora de música latina.
No era de extrañarse, por eso, que su debut en la televisión se diese en Estudio Billboard, un raro programa de la televisión en español donde los invitados, algunos de los artistas más destacados de la música en español contemporánea, hablan de su obra y no de sus intimidades y escándalos personales.
El programa, que se estrenó el año pasado en V-Me —un canal disponible por televisión abierta en algunas ciudades y en satélite y cable en casi todo el país— incluyó en su primera temporada entrevistas con figuras como Maná, Juan Luis Guerra o Daddy Yankee.
Estudio Billboard retornó en junio pasado para una segunda temporada que hasta ahora ha incluido a figuras como Aleks Syntek, Natalia Lafourcade, Olga Tañón, Calle 13 y Alejandra Guzmán —cuya entrevista se verá esta noche—.
Sentada frente a un público en un ambiente relajado y amigable, Cobo le da a sus invitados la libertad de sopesar sus preguntas y de contestarlas sin la presión a la cual se enfrentan los artistas en la mayoría de los programas de espectáculos de la televisión.
“Casi todos los que van a Estudio Billboard son artistas que he entrevistado antes y entonces creo que existe por lo menos un respeto mutuo —no creo que seamos amigos— y me caen bien”, dijo Cobo en una entrevista reciente. “Me gusta tener ahí a gente que respeto y que admiro de alguna manera y que me parece simpática. Yo les digo que es una cosa muy relajada, como si estuvieran en la sala de la casa, tomándose algo y charlando de música. Nunca les digo ‘los voy a entrevistar’ sino ‘vamos a charlar’”.
Un elemento importante de la dinámica de Estudio Billboard es la frecuente presencia de un instrumento musical.
“La mayoría de los músicos, si son músicos, cuando están al lado de un instrumento, como que no se aguantan e instintivamente [se van al instrumento]… no todos son así, pero creo que los programas más cálidos son aquellos en los que el artista tiene que agarrar la guitarra porque está allí y es parte de su manera de expresarse”.
Esta segunda temporada ha visto un par de cambios. El programa todavía cuenta con un público en vivo que presencia la entrevista, pero este ya no rodea a Cobo y su entrevistado. Pero el cambio más drástico es que el programa se produce con un socio mexicano y se graba en Ciudad de México y no en Miami.
El cambio de locación ha visto una preponderancia de artistas mexicanos este año como Guzmán, a quien Cobo dijo le encantó entrevistar.
“Alejandra Guzmán es una persona muy expresiva y tanto cuando habla como cuanto canta deja todo ahí, se mete completamente en su rollo… y me encantó la manera como cantó y la manera como habló de cualquier tema”.
Estudio Billboard no representa la única área de expansión de la periodista, que en los últimos años ha ganado notoriedad por la “Entrevista Billboard” que realiza en las varias conferencias de música latina que organiza su publicación. Así lo hará el mes próximo, en la Cumbre de Música Regional Mexicana de Billboard, donde entrevistará a Alejandro Fernández ante el público reunido en el hotel Hyatt Regency Century Plaza de Los Ángeles.
Casada con el pianista Arthur Hanlon, Cobo es además escritora de ficción y está a punto de publicar su primera novela en inglés, Tell Me Somthing True.
Como periodista, contó que una de las cosas que más disfruta de Estudio Billboard es conseguir que los entrevistados lleguen a tal confianza con ella, que le revelen alguna anécdota personal.
“A veces en una entrevista me dicen, ‘oye me acuerdo de…’ o ‘esto nunca lo había dicho’… Me pasa mucho: ‘esto se me había olvidado, esto nunca lo he contado’… Y no es que me están contando el secreto de su vida, pero sí algo que en algún momento de su vida ha sido muy importante y como que nunca han tenido la oportunidad de decirlo”.
“Yo trato de desarmarlos, que ellos sientan que están hablando con un amigo y que sientan que el público es un amigo y puedan compartir cosas que nunca han contado, que sean cosas musicales o no”.