In 2004, Latin pop singer Betzaida received a major promotional push from Fonovisa Records, a Univision-affiliated powerhouse best known for regional Mexican music.
But even though Betzaida is part Mexican, her music is not typical of Fonovisa -- her specialty is not banda, norteño, Tex-Mex, mariachi or ranchera. Instead, Betzaida's focus is sleek Latin pop, and she is the sort of vocalist who goes for an across-the-board appeal in the Spanish-speaking world -- in other words, the type of artist who would set out to appeal to Mexicans, Cubans, Venezuelans, Dominicans and Colombians equally rather than going after one group of Latinos specifically. And Betzaida, in fact, was exposed to different Latin cultures when she was growing up in Chicago. Born in the Windy City on March 16, 1981, Betzaida is the daughter of a Puerto Rican father and a Mexican mother -- both of whom encouraged her interest in the arts. Betzaida was only eight when, in 1989, she made her first television appearance and hosted a local Chicago program called Brechita 44 -- and she went on to appear in various theatrical productions, talent contests and beauty pageants. The bilingual Betzaida, who speaks both English and Spanish fluently, enjoyed a major break when, in early 2004, she signed with Fonovisa. The company hired Rudy Pérez, a well known producer/songwriter in Latin music, to work on her first album; in addition to producing Betzaida's self-titled debut album, Pérez wrote or co-wrote many of the songs, including "Ahora Te Dejo Yo," "No Tienes Mi Perdón," "Tonto Orgullo," "Te Voy a Olvidar," "Mientes" and the infectious "El Moreno" (which incorporates elements of Spanish gypsy flamenco as well as cumbia, salsa and reggaetón). With its up-tempo, tropical-minded exuberance, "El Moreno" is not typical of Betzaida on the whole; she is, for the most part, a romantic singer who emphasizes ballads. Fonovisa released Betzaida's debut album in August 2004, and the melancholy "Te Tengo Que Aprender a Olvidar" was released as the first single. During the summer of 2004, Univision chose Betzaida (who was 23 at the time) to sing the official theme song for Copa America, a major Latin American soccer tournament that took place in Peru. ~ Alex Henderson