Latin hitmaker becoming a star in his own right

Tommy Torres at one of his soldout shows at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico this month.
Tommy Torres at one of his soldout shows at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico this month.

A multi-award winning Latin music songwriter and producer is making a mark as an artist in his own right - and heading to Miami. Tommy Torres, who's collected a slew of Grammy and Latin Grammy awards for writing hits for some of Latin music's biggest stars, including Juanes, Juan Luis Guerra, Ricky Martin, Alejandro Sanz, and Draco Rosa, will play the Fillmore Miami Beach on April 1st. It's part of Torres' first ever U.S. tour, and what he says feels like a shift in his career.

"It definitely feels different, not because I'm putting myself out there as a performer, because I've been doing that since the beginning of my career," Torres said from his home in Miami. "Everything is pointing towards a great year career wise as far as my shows and music I've been releasing and that's in the pipeline. Instead of pushing this whole thing uphill it feels like we're finally getting that downhill momentum."

The U.S. tour that Billboard Magazine called one of the most anticipated of the year, kicked off with two sold-out shows earlier this month at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico on Torres' native island. Thousands turned out despite the island's deep economic troubles. In a measure of Torres' growing reputation (and musical connections), guests included reggaeton star Daddy Yankee, beloved longtime songstress Ednita Nazario, and exquisite newcomer Gaby Moreno. It all added up to an emotional event for Torres.

"I was very nervous," he says. "But once the first few seconds passed it was just fun from beginning to end. The thing that sticks in my mind was people stood up when I sang the first verse of the first song, and I never saw them sit down after that. It was a long show, two and a half hours. And people were singing along."

"You do songs out of your own creative necessity, because they work for you. But when you put them out there you hope they become part of people's lives. When you hear people singing every word you realize these songs have become part of their lives. Especially when you sing them in the place where you were born and grew up, and all your family and friends are there - it's amazing."

Among the Torres' songs that have been moving people are his spontaneously composed post-election ballad, "Aprenderemos," ("We'll Learn"), which calls for transcending fear and hatred with empathy and love. The homemade-looking video, with Torres accompanying himself on the piano at home, went viral on Facebook, and was shared over 23,000 times. And he's looking forward to recording a new album in his Miami Lakes Jetwash Studios.

"Business wise it makes sense to do one song at a time," says Torres. "But from an artistic point of view there are a lot of songs which are deeper, which are less commercial, but are very important to me and won't be heard if I'm just releasing a single every three months."

And he's thrilled to be playing the Fillmore, where he's gone to see so many concerts. He won't reveal names, but he promises that some of his many musical buddies will join him onstage.

"I've been doing this for so long that I'm lucky to have a lot of friends in the industry,” says Torres. “That I can call and say "hey, let's do this".”

If you go

What: Tommy Torres in concert

When: 8 p.m. April 1st

Where: Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach

Info: $76 plus fees at Ticketmaster.com or livenation.com.