Born in Cali, Colombia, Kike Santander - BMI's 1999 Latin Songwriter of the Year and writer of "Si Tú Supieras," the Latin Song of the Year - arrived in Miami in December of 1995. Before arriving in this country, he was a well-known "jinglero," the Colombian term for people who make advertising jingles. During that time, he was exposed to practically every type of music, including rock, pop, folk and all kinds of tropical, from cha-cha to salsa, merengue and vallenato. He worked on every aspect of jingle, at one point making one a day; in total, he created at least 2,000 jingles on his own. Kike explains, "I was the composer, arranger, sound engineer, musician (singing and playing instruments), and sometimes even the announcer."
One afternoon, Kike sat down and wrote a song for his wife. This song turned out to be the key that opened new doors for him. He believes the process of writing this first song was "fast and consistent . . . and all the verses made sense. The day I wrote it, I discovered things I never imagined I had."
Ever since that day, Kike has been producing fewer jingles and composing and producing more songs. Before he knew it, he was working with well-known artists like El Puma and Emilio Estefan in the U.S.
"Abriendo Puertas," which translates as "opening doors," is the hit that gave him his first Grammy Award and opened new doors in the U.S. for him. "This phrase is quite allegorical. It's about believing in myself, and always looking for the good in the bad," says Kike referring to the song's title.
According to Kike, the doors are only slightly open for Latinos in the U.S.: "We now have the chance to show the general market what we're really about." And when he says we, he means more than just the artists, as it is also a great time for Latin producers, composers, and sound engineers. "Now is the time for all of us to create . . . songs that have Latin roots that get to the crossover market - and stay there. Latin music is not a fad, it shouldn't be something that comes and goes. Latin music is here, and it's here to stay."
The fact that Kike is in Miami is no coincidence. He strongly believes in this city and believes it could easily become the capital of Latin American music. He works with composers and producers not only from Latin America, but also from Europe, New York and L.A. They come to Miami because like him, they see it as an epicenter, strategically located, multicultural, and with a strong economic infrastructure.
Just like his old advertising days, when he was composing almost a jingle a day, Kike gets lots of offers to work with artists from all over the world. He's currently involved with upcoming new artists, artists who are looking for new concepts, and with established artists that want to interpret his songs. Some of his new projects include songwriting and/or producing artists like Miriam Hernandez, Cristian Castro, Giselle, Marc Anthony and Daniela Mercury. He is also writing music for the movie Simon Bolívar and is in the process of opening his own publishing and production companies.