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Erika Ender, from Panama with love

(Photo: Jordan News)
In a pop music world largely dominated by Anglo-Saxon products and musicians, Panamanian songwriters who hit the big time are rare, not to say an oddity. Indeed, at first sight the small Central American country hosting less than 5 million inhabitants is not particularly known as a main producer of international pop songs.اضافة اعلان

Erika Ender hails from Panama and is living proof that it is all about quality and not quantity, that exceptions exist, and that this can result in outstanding music. I discovered the exceptionally talented musician almost by accident while watching a show on a French TV channel — yes, the world is getting smaller every day.

The lady was singing Despacito, the megahit made famous and usually interpreted by Luis Fonsi and that is ranked an all-time second on YouTube with a mind-boggling 7.5 billion views count. Ender’s interpretation of the song was very different from Fonsi’s, including the mainly piano-based and very refined instrumental arrangements, compared to the heavier, more dance-based version of Fonsi, with the signature Latin rhythms.

First was the attraction of Ender’s singing. A lot of soul, genuine emotion, amazing voice control, all done with exquisite style, finesse, and subtlety. But then came the big surprise: It appeared that Ender actually was the one who wrote the song, not Fonsi! Which made me want to go and to discover more about her.

Born in Panama City and a Panamanian citizen, Erika Ender also has US and Brazilian roots, courtesy of her two parents. This makes her feel comfortable and to sound great singing in Spanish, in English, and in Portuguese.

If Despacito was the song that changed everything for the singer and songwriter, back in 2017, newer releases like In the Middle, and performances with Brazilian pop star and iconic singer Roberto Carlos bring more of the special and elegant flavor that characterizes Ender’s songs. They are made of a smart combination of new sound and traditional melodies. 

This makes them bridge the gap and appeal to a large audience and please all age groups, from teen-agers to more mature listeners.

Apart from her solo recording of Despacito, Ender has also made it a successful duet with the above-mentioned Roberto Carlos. Ender is 46 and Carlos 80, but their musical combination works perfectly. Singer Roberto Carlos is not to be confused with the equally famous Brazilian football player with the same name.

Back to Basics, Asi Eres Tu, and Si Te Quieres Quedar are other great songs by Ender that are worth listening to and enjoying. In most of her compositions the piano is at the forefront, playing a major, leading role, amongst all other instruments. It is interesting — and a refreshing thought — to note that after years of electronic-based arrangements and productions, the acoustic piano, along with the acoustic guitar, are strongly back in pop music. This is true not only in Ender’s works, but with countless other musicians too, like American John Legend for example, and his brilliant piano parts.

By any measure, the music of Ender is enjoyable, fresh, and classy, standing out in the music scene today. However, there is not enough variety, not enough change between the melodies and the overall sonic atmosphere they create. To put it bluntly: Her songs sound too similar in the end. If for instance you play 10 songs by Ender in a row, it gets a bit repetitive to the ear. But this is the case with most music today. Prolific, truly creative songwriters are not found every day.

Still, I am happy to have discovered Erika Ender’s music and I often play a selection of her best songs.

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