12 Central American Artists to Watch in 2022

Jose Alvarado
12 min readDec 30, 2021

Written by: José Alvarado, Yahaira Osiris, Martha Estrada, Arturo Salas Güell, and Zaira Marleny.

From left to right: Nakury, Ben Carrillo, Rafael Rovelo, Mayki Graff, Sara Curruchich, Aaron Bodden, Sofía Valdés, Nanizzie, and Don Ryvko.

With the recent success of Sech, Ricardo Arjona, Gaby Moreno, Debi Nova and the incredible Latin GRAMMY win for Album of the Year of Ruben Blades in 2021, Central American artists of diverse musical styles and backgrounds are rapidly breaking through mainstream Latin music. As we look to 2022, we have the opportunity to highlight a new generation of artists that are on the path to dominate the airwaves and who knows — maybe even make it to our Spotify Wrapped at the end of the year? This is why I, along with a group of music professionals from Central America, who are also constantly in the lookout to discover new music, created a list of the artists you need to have on your radar this year. There is something here for everyone — lets start!

  1. Sara Curruchich (Guatemala)

Sara Curruchich is a Maya Kaqchikel singer-songwriter, originally from San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala. Sara’s music proposal is based on the collective and individual feelings of the indigenous people, their history, memory, culture, languages ​​and their struggles — all combined with her personal experiences and mixed with contemporary sounds. The past few years have put Sara on a path to success, releasing “Somos” in 2019 and “Mujer Indígena” in 2021. However, Sara has been hard at work for quite a few years. In 2016 she performed an international tour under the name of the Matyox K’aslem Tour, appearing at Bizarre Bushwick in Brooklyn and offering a concert in the United Nations headquarters in New York at the sessions of the Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues. Sara became the first Guatemalan indigenous participant in the Musicalarue Festival in Luxey, France, and in the Esperanzah es Muher Festival, Barcelona, in 2018. She was recently awarded the MTV Transform MIAW award, in recognition of her fight for gender equality through her music. Sara Curruchich is the artist to watch in 2022 as she continues to tour internationally, release new music, and represent the indigenous people of Guatemala. (Written by Zaira Marleny)

2. Ben Carillo (Guatemala)

Carrillo’s determination is undeniable. The talented songwriter and performer left Guatemala when he was 15 years old and never looked back. In 2014, his love for urban music pushed him to take a plane to Medellín. He met Sky Rompiendo and Mosty, two of the most prolific producers of the genre, and recorded his first song, ‘Dime Si Tú’ (Tell Me If You). Fast forward to 2020, now based in Los Angeles, Ben signed a management deal with Vibras Lab, best known for their work with Cazzu and J Balvin. Ben teased a new EP in the making. With a new creative team and friends by his side, led by Jeff Tucker (one of Guatemala’s up-and-coming producers) and HARLAN (US-based composer, multi-Instrumentalist and producer), ‘Crecimiento, Demos’ was born. Six short songs served as a proper reintroduction to his new audience. We are sure he will become one of your favorites artists in 2022, and with around 18,000 Spotify monthly listeners, the future can only look bright for Ben. Catch him performing in Balvin’s NEON residence in Cancún in late January of 2022. (Written by Martha Estrada)

3. Sofía Valdés (Panama)

Sofía Valdés, a 22-year-old singer and songwriter born and raised in Panama, made her debut in 2020 with the release of her single “Little Did I Know”, a song that is part of her 2021 album titled “Ventura”. Valdés is a contemporary artist, eclectic but with her own unique style mixing soul, British folk and bossa nova. She sings mainly in English, captivating English-speaking audiences in Central America and all over the world. However, she has proven that she can also tackle songs in Spanish. “Amsterdam”, a song that incorporates fragments of the poem “El Mar” (The Sea) by the incredible Jorge Luis Borges, was released by her label Warner Records in both languages. After appearing in Rolling Stones Magazine thanks to her performances at Lollapalooza, Outside Festival, Austin City Limits, and being invited by Omar Apollo to open his US tour in 2021, she captured the attention and praise of audiences and critics alike thanks to the energy and sweetness that overflows in her songs. Valdés has also proven that she can succeed as a fashion icon by collaborating with global luxury brand Chanel and Homme Girls Magazine to become the face of Totally Chanel. With over 370,000 Spotify monthly listeners, Sofia promises a lot for 2022 and one thing we know for sure is that she will leave a mark in the music industry. (Written by Yahaira Osiris)

4. Oliver Martinez Guevara, “Ollie” (Honduras)

Tequila & Limón performed by Rafael Rovelo and produced by Ollie.

Every now and then comes a music producer that is not afraid to step into the spotlight — this is the case for Honduran-based producer and artist Oliver Martinez, better known as Ollie. As a producer, Ollie has not only collaborated with a lot of the up-and-coming talent in Central America (including Rafael Rovelo who also made this list), but in 2021 he expanded his reach by collaborating on a track with Leon Leiden, one of Latin America’s pop promises, and on another with Gala Montes, one of Mexico’s most popular telenovela actresses, for Televisa. In addition to this, Ollie was part of the producing team for “Me Levanto Otra Vez” (I Get Up Again), a massive collaboration between many Central American artists where proceeds were donated to affected victims of the Eta and Iota hurricanes that devastated the region in November of 2020. Ollie has proven that he is not only thinking nationally, but is ready to tackle the international market as well. Keep an eye on all things Ollie-produced in 2022 as he is slowly, but steadily climbing the pop charts with his many collaborations. If you want to check a list of songs that have been imprinted with Ollie’s signature to get a glimpse at what’s to come, check this Spotify Playlist curated by himself. (Written by José Alvarado)

5. Mayki Graff (Honduras and Guatemala)

Mayki Graff was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras but currently lives in Guatemala — making her a Central American artist in the truest sense. Although she has been rapping for many years, 2021 saw her rebirth as a female rapping powerhouse with a conscious pencil. If you read the lyrics to her latest two singles “Cuna de Oro” (Golden Cradle), and “Rebeldía” (Rebellion), you’ll learn that Mayki is not only creating fire bars and rhymes, à la Residente, but she is also sharing a new perspective: one of a immigrant female rapper that wants to speak truth to power, challenge the status quo, but most importantly, let the world know what is really like to fight oppression, crime and poverty in Central America. She recently collaborated with MTV News on a made-for-TV documentary titled “Tenemos que Hablar de Honduras” (We Have to Talk About Honduras), where she, along with her collaborator Justin Quiles, discuss stories of how climate change, violence, and gender inequities are some of the causes of the current immigration crisis. Graff’s strong lyrics, creative thinking, and unique perspective will for sure put her on a path to success for many years to come. 2022 will be just the beginning. (Written by Jose Alvarado)

6. Nanizzie (Panama)

Nanizzie represents a new generation of female singers that is revolutionizing the Panamanian music scene. This unique artist began her solo career in 2019. Her desire to work with both national and international producers has motivated her to develop her career in between Panama and Colombia. Her single “Un Día Más’’ (One More Day), which went viral on YouTube, TikTok and Spotify, positioning itself in the viral top 50 in Panama, led her to recently sign a contract with Equity Distribution, a subsidiary of Roc Nation, the record label and management company of renowned American singer and businessman Jay-Z. Nanizzie doesn’t abide by genre rules, mixing R&B and soul with reggaeton and Jamaican dancehall makes her music sound both urban and avant-garde. Nanizzie is a clear example for other female artists that dream of making it in the urban music scene to not to give up, to be constant in their work, and above all, to believe in themselves. With urban music on the rise and a major label backing her up, 2022 promises a lot for the Panamanian artist. (Written by Yahaira Osiris)

7. Nakury (Costa Rica)

After publishing her first LP in 2017 titled “VIA”, Nakury, a rapper and communicator from Turrialba, Cartago, Costa Rica, published her second production in 2020 in collaboration with the DJ and producer Barzo, titled “O” — both through the independent record label Lácteo Cósmico. Her eclectic nature has helped her reach important milestones that include creating concert circuits in the most remote corners of Costa Rica, promoting hip-hop culture in collaboration with Union Break, and performing in the United States, Spain, Germany , Holland, France, England, Switzerland, among others. However, the most interesting thing about her music is that through her lyrics, she not only communicates her experience as a Central American woman, but her music sounds like Costa Rica. Nakury manages to incorporate traditional Costa Rican elements, all while paying homage to historical figures such as Carmen Lira. With over 3,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and having just returned from a South American tour in 2021, Nakury promises to be a fast growing artist by 2022. (Written by Arturo Salas Güell)

8. Rafael Rovelo (Honduras)

Rafael Rovelo has a talented pen and is unapologetically charming in all the ways a pop star should be in today’s day and age. For the past few months Rafael Rovelo has taken Instagram by storm by posting video reels covering popular reggaetón songs in intimate and stripped-down version. His videos amass over 40,000 views each and are re-shared by his loyal fans as soon as they are uploaded. Everything is shaping up for Rafael to have an incredible 2022 and no better way to prove this than his latest two singles: “Tequila & Limón” (Tequila & Lemon), and “Ilusiones” (Illusions). These two songs showcase Rafael’s masterful songwriting skills and his ability to tap into more commercial projects — this is further proven because he is often asked to collaborate with other artists to co-write their singles. In 2021 he made waves all over the region when he co-wrote “Las Olas Decían” (The Waves Used to Say) with Victoria Lupi, another up-and-coming artist in Central America. If you are someone that likes to feel both heartbreak and love when listening to music, then Rafael should definitely be on the top of your playlist. (Written by José Alvarado)

9. Don Ryvko (Honduras)

Ryvko is a son of American missionaries that grew up in Honduras until he moved back to the US when he was 10. In 2021, Ryvko worked on all cylinders, releasing multiple singles throughout the year — all different from the next. With “TEGUCCI”, “Catracho”, and “Mujer” (Woman), Ryvko explores different social issues that include the high murder rate of women in Honduras, the attempt of the Honduran president’s administration to sell parts of the country to foreign entities, and his identity as both an American and Honduran. But that is not it, Ryvko also released “Tu Amor Tiene Otro Nombre’’ (Your Love Has Another Name), “Capitulo’’ (Chapter), and “Una Vez’’ (One More Time), all fun anthems of love and relationships. 2022 is shaping up to be Ryvko’s year. As he continues to explore both love and social issues, his audience is going to expand in both Latin America and the US. As of now, Ryvko’s has accumulated over 14,000 Spotify monthly listeners. The sky’s the limit to what Don Ryvko can accomplish in 2022. (Written by José Alvarado)

10. Easy Easy (Guatemala)

Easy Easy, one of Guatemala’s most emblematic independent bands of the last decade, is the one to watch in 2022. Their last EP, ‘5’, published through Future Archive Recordings, was released back in April 2020. For true fans, this feels like a lifetime ago. They outdid themselves with their 2020 single, ‘Katana’, a testament of the band’s willingness to change things up and create something fans had not heard before. After canceling their US, Mexico, and Costa Rica tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Easy Easy took that time to work on new material. This likely means there are new and unexpected collaborations that are coming up in 2022, and who knows — maybe a rescheduled tour? Everybody loves a comeback and it’s hard not to get excited when they throw a couple of hints of what’s to come. (Written by Martha Estrada)

11. Aaron Bodden (Honduras)

Aaron rose to fame after his participation in Univision’s talent competition “La Banda” (The Band), where the prize for the winners allowed them to become members of the now popular boy-band CNCO. Bodden did not win the competition, but that did not stop him. 2021 was his best year to date. As of now Bodden has over 117,000 YouTube subscribers and more than 159,000 Instagram followers, confirming he is on a path to pop stardom in the coming years. In 2021 he released “Boom Boom”, “Dime” (Tell Me), and most recently “Fin de Año” (End of the Year), three upbeat songs that have all the ingredients of a chart-topping hit, and that are just teases to what is to come in 2022. With the help of Ethika Music, a record label specializing in “the underdog” artists, 2022 will bring him even more success and current and new audiences will be surprised to hear what Bodden can achieve musically.

12. Amanda Rodriguez (Costa Rica)

Amanda Rodríguez is a Costa Rican singer-songwriter and actress, who mixes her Latin American and Caribbean roots with indie folk and world music. Her emblematic voice has led her to collaborate with great musicians such as Latin GRAMMY winner Carlos “Pipo” Cháves and 6-time GRAMMY winner Ignacio “Nacho” Molino. She released her first EP called “Corazón de Mar” in 2016, which was awarded by ACAM in the New Song category. Additionally, Amanda also received the award for Best Lyrics with her song: “Mujer Gigante” (Gigantic Woman), a song that was used by the New York organization Hope Sings, a non-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting equality of gender and the empowerment of women, in alliance with UN Women. In 2021 Amanda kept busy with the release of her second EP titled “Flor Colmena”, accompanied by the single “Pajarillo Blues” (Little Bird Blues). Amanda has participated in prominent festivals such as the Costa Rica National Arts Festival, the singer-songwriter conference “La Cantaletra” in Bogotá, and ChileSur Festival. She has also collaborated with international artists such as Andrés Correa (Colombia), Daniela Conejero (Chile), the female band Mujerío (Argentina), among others. Amanda has big plans for 2022 and she will surely keep growing her audience by collaborating with more top-notch talent from around the globe.

Click here for a Spotify playlist curated with the music of all of these artists.

About the authors

José Alvarado: Currently a graduate student, he is Honduran, and resides in New York City. José holds a BA in Accounting and Finance from the Central American University of Technology (UNITEC), an AS in Business Administration from the State University of New York, and is pursuing a MA in Arts Administration from the City University of New York. He has worked in marketing, programming, and production for different performing arts venues and art organizations in the United States.

Yahaira Osiris: Founder of AtrapandoSueños Art Media and Artistic Director of YR Promociones & Eventos, she has more than 20 years of experience in the music industry as manager, artist representative, tour manager, broadcaster, exhibitor, promoter, and publicist. In 2021 Yahaira represented Panama and Central America in LATMUS (The Latin American Music Industry Conference) that had a great impact for the music industry in the region. She is the Founder and Director of the first Latin American conference of women in the music industry: MIM LATAM.

Martha Estrada: Guatemalan music journalist and an active member of the local music scene since 2018. She writes and oversees editorial content at El Timbre Suena, an independent music outlet based in Guatemala, does PR and project management for Mexican-Costa Rican artist Leena Bae, and works in an administrative role at Dos Mundos Agency, a Guatemalan management and booking company.

Arturo Salas Güell: Costa Rican musician and business administrator. He has more than 12 years of experience as a percussion and drum instructor and session musician. He is currently the president of the Costa Rican Forum of Music Educators (FOCODEM), co-founder and administrator of the International Network of Artists Viva Primavera (Central American organization based in Costa Rica and Guatemala, that produces events, and serves as booking agents for artists). Arturo is the Administrative Director of the LATMUS Conference (The Latin American Music Industry Conference). Arturo has a Bachelor of Tourism Administration and is in the last stage of his MBA.

Zaira Marleny: Zaira has a Bachelor of Music from the University of Valle in Guatemala. In 2013 she won the Bel Canto Revelation Artist Award. In 2019, together with other writers, she published a short piece called “Nunca Más El Fuego” (The Fire Never Again). Additionally, Zaira is the Co-founder of the International Network of Artists Viva Primavera, and currently teaches the Business of Music and Entertainment course at the University of Valle in Guatemala. She has worked in various theater and music groups as a singer, actress, and cultural administrator. She is the General Director of the LATMUS Conference (The Latin American Music Industry Conference).



Jose Alvarado

I'm José Alvarado, an arts admin/music pro from Honduras. I curate and produce at THE OFFICE Arts, working globally with renowned institutions and artists.