The year was 2007. Beyoncé geared up for a crossover that would take the Texas-born singer into the homes of millions of new Latin American, Latino and Spanish fans. As part of her exploration into Latino culture, Beyoncé recorded eight songs – one of them becoming the singer’s official entry into Latin music.
“Amor Gitano” – her duet with Mexican singer Alejandro Fernández – premiered as the theme song for Zorro: La espada y la rosa, a Telemundo novela, in February 2007. The single was a play on flamenco pop, produced by Beyoncé and Cuban composer Rudy Pérez. To this day, “Amor Gitano” is the best-selling single of all time in Spain. Still, it only reached No. 23 on the US Billboard Latin Pop charts.
And while her love for Latino culture wasn’t surprising in 2017 when Beyoncé hopped onto J Balvin and Willy William’s “Mi Gente,” it came as a surprise 10 years before. But it didn’t come out of nowhere. Beyoncé’s Latin crossover was influenced by her Texan roots, with Selena and her childhood best friend, who is Mexican, serving as inspiration. She also took Spanish class in high school and tapped into Tejano culture and performed at rodeos, just as Selena did before her. In a 2007 interview with People en Español, she said she felt connected to Latino culture because of her Houston roots. “Just the heart and the rhythm of the music and the drums and the spiciness it reminds me of Creole,” she said. “It reminds me of my heritage and where I come from.”
Since then, Beyoncé hasn’t released another Spanish-language album (though we’re definitely holding out hope for that) and hasn’t toured Latin America since her Mrs. Carter World Tour in 2013 (though she did visit Spain during her On the Run II tour with Jay Z this summer). But Bey’s short-lived romance with Latin and Spanish music remains one of the best stages – or at least, most memorable – of her career, with “Amor Gitano” setting the stage. Below, check out five facts about “Amor Gitano.”
She worked with a coach.
Beyoncé co-producer and composer Rudy Pérez was also her Spanish coach. In this recording session, he said if she weren’t such a good singer, the song would have been “impossible.”
Beyoncé and Alejandro Fernandez recorded the song in one day.
“Amor Gitano” was recorded at The Beach House Recording Studios in Miami and at the Rock the Mic Studios in New York. Beyoncé and Alejandro didn’t meet until they recorded together. “She seemed like a fine lady to me, very humble, with a great voice,” Fernández told Billboard. The song was also featured in Fernández’s album, Viento a favor.
The song was included in Beyoncé's EP Irremplazable.
Beyoncé put some effort into appealing to her Latino fans, recording an eight-song EP called Irremplazable in 2007, as a bonus album to her second studio album B’Day. The cover featured Beyoncé in a clearly Spain-inspired outfit. She often began her performances in Spanish saying, “This is for my Latino fans.” The singer also released a documentary titled, La evolución latina de Beyoncé.
The song received some backlash.
Not only did Beyoncé’s album cover raise a few eyebrows, but the song “Amor Gitano” also faced backlash for appropriating Romani culture, an ethnic group colloquially known as “gitanos” in Europe.
Beyoncé couldn't believe she was part of a telenovela.
In an interview with People en Español, Beyoncé admitted she never thought she’d be part of a telenovela. But also said she couldn’t believe the voice in “Amor Gitano” was hers the first time she watched the opening. “Every time I hear it I have to turn my head and ask, “is that really me?” I mean, it doesn’t sound like me because I’m singing in a different language and I say to myself, “this is crazy,” she said.