April 16, 2010 / 10:44 PM / 9 years ago

Songwriter Omar Alfanno launches hits project

MIAMI (Billboard) - With more than 300 songs recorded by 170-plus performers, Omar Alfanno is one of Latin music’s premiere songwriters and the man behind countless hits, including “A Puro Dolor” (Purest of Pain), Billboard’s Latin song of the decade.

Omar Alfanno smiles as he is photographed with his Song Writer of the Year awards backstage at the eighth annual Billboard Latin Music Awards show in Miami Beach, Florida, April 26, 2001. REUTERS/Colin Braley

In February, he released the album “Omar Alfanno Presenta: Angel Lopez, Historias de Amor,” on which Angel Lopez, former singer of Son by Four (the group that originally recorded “A Puro Dolor”), performs some of Alfanno’s greatest hits. The set, which features warm, acoustic arrangements, will be the first of five albums featuring covers of his hits through the decades.

In a recent interview, he talked about his new recording project.

Billboard: What motivated the release of “Omar Alfanno Presenta?”

Omar Alfanno: The word “grateful” is very important to me. I have to be grateful to fans, and what better way to say “thank you” than to launch a collection of five albums, each one with 12 tracks, each of which has been a hit.

The first singer I sought out was Angel Lopez. I’d worked with him as a producer, and when I saw him again, we had the same magic between us. And he has, in my opinion, one of the best voices in Latin music.

Billboard: Why are they all ballads?

Alfanno: I wanted to take the listener to the very essence of how my songs are born. I don’t know how to do salsa. I always write ballads, and these ballads have been taken to a salsa format. It’s a little like dressing a bride in white again. This is an album that will take you back to certain moments in your life. It’s a kind of romantic deja vu. Each song takes you to 12 different moments in your life.

Billboard: With album sales down, isn’t this a strange time to release such a personal project?

Alfanno: I had to release it anyway. This album is not an album to be pirated. It’s an album for people who love the music and want the album in their hands. That’s why there are no new songs included. If we did that, the concept wouldn’t work. And if we sell only 20,000 copies, I’ll be thankful.

Billboard: You say this is the first of five albums. What’s next?

Alfanno: I’m working on a second project tied to Colombia. I can’t say much more yet.

Billboard: There’s been discussion lately about songwriters sharing or giving away copyright in exchange for placement of their songs. What are your thoughts?

Alfanno: Songs stem from your heart. You take them with you and, if you’re lucky, they enter the charts. But sooner or later that song returns to its natural state and can lie dormant for 10, 15, 20 years. Then someone else comes along and rerecords it and that same song can be even more successful.

Look at Luis Miguel’s “Romances” (for which the Mexican singer covered Latin standards). When those songs were first recorded, there were barely any royalties paid out. By the time Luis Miguel recorded them, right away you tripled the value of the principle, which is the song. That’s why you don’t give your copyright away. It’s your legacy ... As composers, we don’t leave our children buildings or land. We leave them copyrights.

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