From Social Media Sensation to Stadiums: Maria Becerra Set For Biggest Stage Of Her Career

Maria Becerra, an Argentinian pop star with more than 24 million monthly listeners on Spotify, earned four Latin Grammy nominations this year and was one of the performers for the ceremony in Sevilla, Spain. (Photo by Julián Levy)

The rise of reggaeton, or urbano, an umbrella term for music that blends elements of trap, hip-hop, funk carioca and dembow, put Puerto Rico and Colombia in the spotlight with artists like Daddy Yankee, Bad Bunny, J Balvin and Karol G dominating airwaves and charts — and deservedly so because both territories have continuously exported well-known talent that has gone mainstream.

Songs from such artists not only impacted the world but the nations surrounding them, inspiring a new generation of singers who are evolving the genre as well as the music scene in their homeland. One example is María Becerra, one of the leading ladies of Argentina’s urbano movement who received four Latin Grammy nominations this year for Song of the Year, Best Reggaeton Performance, Best Urban Song and Best Urban Fusion/Performance.

“The truth is I’m super happy that so few years into my career this is all happening,” Becerra tells Pollstar. “It’s the third time I’ve earned at least a nomination, and this year it’s four, so I’m very happy.”

Such feats aren’t easy for a 23-year-old, especially in a country that has long been known for tango, folk and rock acts. The singer will also be performing at the awards show, joining a list of well-established acts that includes Shakira, Feid, Rosalía, Maluma and Rauw Alejandro.

“Life is full of opportunities for me at the moment, and we’re working to cover everything and continue to grow,” says Becerra, who has garnered more than 24 million monthly listeners on Spotify with hits such as “¿Qué Más Pues?” (a collaboration with J Balvin) and “Miénteme” (recorded with Tini) surpassing 600 million streams.

Becerra has taken advantage of every opportunity that has come her way. Her rise to fame actually didn’t start with music but rather with social media. At only 15 years old, she put her artistic sensibility on display with comedy videos on Facebook and quickly gained a following thanks to one video accumulating millions of viewers in nearly eight years. Becerra later gravitated to another platform, YouTube, to showcase more of her talent with covers of songs she enjoys as well as vlogs. But the artist known as “La Nena de Argentina” (“The Baby of Argentina”) had developed a passion for music long before she went viral.

“The truth is, I’ve had a creative side since I was a little girl,” Becerra says. “Since I was 6 years old, I started taking singing classes and participated in comedy and musical theater. I always enjoyed it.”

Becerra even dabbled in painting, grabbing a brush simply to express herself in any way.

“I was always a restless, hyperactive and creative girl,” she adds. “I always had this need to create something, and the truth is that music came to me a long time ago.”

One of those moments that cemented her love of music was when she was only 7 years old. She recalls watching a DVD of a live performance of Queen’s Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé, who was a renowned operatic soprano. The duo released the album Barcelona in 1988; a 2012 special edition with a DVD featured live performances from the two singers, including a memorable showing at the La Nit festival in Barcelona prior to the arrival of the Olympic flag in 1988. The show marked Mercury’s final live performance before dying in 1991, and it made a major impact on Becerra’s life.

“That was an iconic performance,” Becerra says. “My mom had the cassette because she and my dad were fans of Freddie. My mom also loved Montserrat, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. She was always a big supporter of the great female voices, and she taped each big performance from those artists on a tape.

“They always put on that DVD,” she adds. “We didn’t watch the news. We only watched live performances and listened to music, and I just fell in love with Montserrat and Freddie. I began imitating the singers with my little sister with me as Montserrat and my sister as Freddie. We learned the performance from beginning to end, each movement, and the entire song, which was in a different language, and we would act it out in front of our parents. That’s when they realized we could actually sing, and so they started taking us to singing class. That was the one performance that changed my life.”

With an online following, Becerra took a chance and began taking music more seriously and launched her EP 222 in 2019, showing her admiration for hip-hop and urbano. She started getting noticed after being featured in remixes of songs that featured Rauw Alejandro, Tiago PZK and Duki, but then the pandemic hit. While the world was at a standstill, a restless Becerra couldn’t stand by and wait. She used that time to focus on herself, particularly her music and even lived with some of her compatriots to continue recording tracks.

“Obviously, what happened during the pandemic was horrible, but in my case, it was a moment when I grew the most,” Becerra says. “Even though the world stopped, we artists were able to still find a way to work. We weren’t able to perform live, which was awful, but artists were able to launch music, continue recording videos from our own homes and showcase our work on Instagram. … Despite everything that was happening in the world, I was able to release more music and people were listening in from their homes, which created a special connection.

“This scene of Argentine artists, everyone from my generation — Tiago PZK, Lit Killah, FMK and Emilia — we were all in the same situation,” she adds. “With so much uncertainty about what was going to happen with our music and live shows, that was when we began to become a family and help each other. … We couldn’t go out during the pandemic, so we all lived in the same house together creating music. … Honestly, it was an incredible experience and we encouraged each other to grow.”

Becerra has grown to become one of the biggest acts in Latin America. She recently sold out the 80,000-seat Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires, home of historic soccer team River Plate, in under 90 minutes. The stadium has hosted major acts including The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson.

“I feel like the day I perform at the stadium, there will be flags from so many countries, and it’s going to be beautiful,” says Becerra, who will also be performing at Times Square on New Year’s Eve. “… I want everyone coming from out of the country to say it was incredible and that it was worth the trip. The thought of it fills me with emotion. … We’re going to give it our all with an incredible stage and great performances from dancers and musicians. It really is going to be an incredible spectacle.”

The big show also marks the first time a female Argentine act performs at the stadium, and with such an achievement, maybe it’s time for the young star to graduate from “La Nena” to “La Reina de Argentina.”