If there is one thing that Mexican composer Benny Camacho is not, it’s pretentious. He could afford to be, given his recent rise to fame as an award-winning banda songwriter. The list of songs he’s written or co-written is so long, it takes up a whole page on Wikipedia and reads like a who’s who of Regional Mexican music.
But, he says in his unassuming and gentle voice, what’s happened to him “is a dream come true.” He never expected to be able to make a living doing what he loves — making music. Before songwriting became his full-time occupation, Camacho painted billboards for a living. Originally from Sinaloa, his father was a farmer, and he comes from a family of nine. “I always worked, but I also always wrote songs,” he says.
Camacho never fails to mention the catalyst for his fairytale success story, one he tells with his voice full of gratitude — but also sadness. In 2005, the popular Mexican banda singer Valentín Elizalde, nicknamed “El Gallo de Oro” (the Golden Rooster), selected two of Camacho’s songs, “Nada” and “Si Me Ven,” and made them famous. Elizalde was gunned down in 2006 by what is widely believed to be a drug trafficking gang. Before that tragedy, Elizalde’s belief in Camacho changed the young songwriter’s life. Camacho stopped painting ads and dedicated himself fulltime to music.
Lately, Camacho has been lighting up charts with songs “Me Encantaría,” recorded by Fidel Rueda, and “El Derecho de Antiguedad,” sung by La Original Banda El Limón, which also earned him a BMI Latin Award. And yet, the ultra-modest songwriter still thinks of himself as a humble guy who is just doing what he loves, which he would be doing whether or not he ever made any money.
“To follow my songs is not commercial,” he says, somewhat ingenuously. “Some songs are not fashionable, but I write them because I have to get them out.”
Benny Camacho’s BMI Latin songwriting award for “El Derecho de Antiguedad” was his first. Listen to more of his work in this compilation.