GRAMMY Winners Jesse and Joy Explain How Growing Up in a Bicultural Home Propelled Them to Stardom (Exclusive)
By Elisa Osegueda
Two is better than one.
Jesse and Joy Huerta, a brother and sister music duo from Mexico City, have made their mark in the U.S. and Latin America with their catchy and soulful lyrics over the past 12 years.
ET caught up with the GRAMMY Award winners, where they reflected on their global platform, the importance of paying it forward and how their parents raised them to embrace two cultures.
“Joy was 18 and I was 21 when we decided to do this full time,” Jesse explains to ET on the moment they officially embarked on their music career.
“We recorded [a few songs] but it wasn’t intended to be a demo, it was just a CD with a few songs that we recorded at home,” Jesse continues. “Randomly one of my friends that plays professional basketball asked me if I had something that he could listen to. So, I gave him the CD, which then went from hand to hand. All of a sudden we got a call from a record label saying they would like to hire us.”
As it turns out, Jesse’s friend gave the CD to a friend who had a contact at Warner Music Mexico. In 2006, a year after being approached, their album, "Esta Es Mi Vida" (This Is My Life), debuted with high remarks and yielded the hit single, "Espacio Sideral" (Outer Space).
“This might be for real,” Jesse recalls of that fateful phone call from the Warner executive. “My mom and dad have always encouraged us to do whatever we want to do but to do it at 100%, not half done. I think when that [call] happened that’s when we said, ‘We really want to commit to this.’ We’re brother and sister, but we’re friends, we have a good time together, and we complete each other.”
The two have garnered 15 Latin GRAMMY nominations since 2007 and have won six times in prominent categories, including New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
As fate would have it, the brother and sister duo won their first GRAMMY last year for Best Latin Pop album for Un Besito Más. During their heartfelt acceptance speech, Joy explained how Un Besito Más was written in memory of their father and dedicated the award to "every minority group, we are with you, we stand with you."
Swinging between two cultures has been a norm for the singing duo. Their mother, a native from Wisconsin, and Mexican father, raised them to be bilingual while living in Mexico -- a skill set both Jesse and Joy believe gave them the tools to pursue their career of choice.
“We’re Latin American,” Joy says. “Our father is Mexican and our mother is American. We know what it’s like to be bicultural. To grow up getting the best of both worlds. I think we feel pretty blessed and responsible because we have the biggest blessing to have two passports.”
“The more we’ve been traveling and touring, we realize that knowing a second language is important,” Jesse adds. “It enriches your life.”
The 35-year old singer explains that while they might have reached global success for their Spanish-language songs, they are influenced by both cultures.
“If we feel inspired to write a full song in English, we’ll do it,” Jesse says. “We’ve done it before, where we’ve written a song in English but then we showcase the Spanish version.”
And, that’s exactly what they did with “Echoes of Love.” The song debuted in Spanish in 2015, garnering 232 million views on YouTube. A year later, the English version was released to positive reviews. Joy says they are open to recording more songs in English, but they are well aware of what their fan base likes.
On Friday, the two released the music video for their new single, “Te Esperé,” which they composed themselves and will be part of their highly anticipated fifth studio album. The video was directed by Dano Cerny and was shot last month in Los Angeles. This is the first single for Jesse and Joy since the release of “3 A.M.” featuring Gente de Zona in August 2017.
The two admit that while being bilingual has its perks, but there were times during their childhood when they felt misunderstood.
“We were born and raised in Mexico City, but coming to the U.S. we finally felt like we were being understood. Growing up in Mexico City we were a bit blonder than the other kids and we would pronounce words a bit different, and they would say, ‘Ay losgueritos (blond haired kids), ay losgueritos.’ I remember coming home one day and I was crying because they were picking on me. I wasn’t calling it bullying, I just said, 'Daddy, they are picking on me because of how I speak.' We basically had these two cultures, it was a way of thinking and talking,” Joy recalls.
“Growing up and not knowing a lot of people that were also bicultural [was difficult],” Joy adds. “So, coming here [to the U.S.] and getting to know this culture that is just like us -- now I feel like I’m not an outsider. I want others to feel the same way, that they are not alone.”