Carlos Rivera is letting his guard down and allowing the world to get to know the man behind the handsome pop star. In his nearly two-decades-long career, this past year was marked with highs and a tragic low. Rivera married his longtime partner, Cynthia Rodríguez, and experienced the unexpected passing of his father. The Mexican singer is channeling all those emotions into his most personal album yet, Sincerándome.
“This album is a reencounter of my whole life in songs,” Rivera tells LATINA. “I’m sharing the most important songs of my life that I’ve written, that have helped me express how I felt, and helped me be honest with myself.”
Rivera’s music career is akin to those of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood: he won a TV singing competition and has since blossomed into a Latin pop phenomenon. In the stirring song “Siempre Estaré Aquí,” he reflects on the time that his father dropped him off in Mexico City, in 2004, for La Academia, the show he went on to win. The cover art for Sincerándome includes an homage to Rivera’s father in the shape of a hummingbird.
“In Mexican culture, as part of Día de Muertos, there exists the legend that hummingbirds are the soul of that loved one that come to tell you that they’re doing well,” Rivera says. “For that reason, it’s on my chest [in the album art] with an explosion of musical notes and lyrics that are coming from my heart.”
Previously in his career, Rivera had kept his private life to himself, always appearing put-together and happy. In the emotional title track of his new album, he revisits a dark period, when trying to constantly upkeep that facade finally got to him. In a video outtake of recording the song
“Sincerándome” in the studio, Rivera breaks down crying while trying to sing it.
“You get to a point when you start to experience a lot of fame and success, a lot of work, many commitments, and pressure,” he says. “It’s emotionally and physically draining. I wanted to literally run away. I’m simply a person like everyone else. I’m a person who cries, who has fears. It was a song that helped me release everything that I was holding onto inside. It was alleviating.”
On Sincerándome, Rivera is also opening up about his marriage to Rodríguez. The heartfelt “La Carta” is taken from the letter that Rivera wrote as his proposal to Rodríguez. Rivera admits that he’s still adjusting to putting himself out there with his music.
“I feel a bit exposed,” Rivera says with a laugh about sharing the contents of the letter in the song. “It was something that was very intimate, that was ours. Now it’s out there for anyone to listen to it, to get to know and see how I love, how I feel so deeply. It’s a very intimate album. You can say it was liberating.”
From when they first started dating, Rivera’s relationship with Rodríguez was constantly speculated about by the media. Rivera long endured gossip and lies spread about his relationship without responding to any of the reports. With the empowering “Digan Lo Que Digan,” he finally hit back by crafting a love song as his response, telling the story according to how he felt.
“We’re human beings and we get hurt too,” Rivera says. “At first, the verses hurt a lot to write, to sing, and to share. Later the song became a reclamation of all that. It was important for me to have a story of love that’s lasted for many years and to say, ‘It doesn’t matter what people say because, at the end, we’re still here, and we’re going strong.'”
Rivera is also known for his support of the LGBTQ+ community. His last tour, the Guerra World Tour, included a video montage with a rainbow flag waving. “Digan Lo Que Digan” from his new album, with its message about love trumping hate, has been embraced as an anthem for the LGBTQ+ community. He recently approved the song to be used for an upcoming television show in Argentina featuring a queer couple.
“It’s a very special song because it defends love a lot and, above all, for everyone,” Rivera says. “I’ve always liked my music to talk about universal love. To any person who loves, you can dedicate my music with any restriction. It’s at the service of anyone who listens to it.”
Now Rivera is getting to visit 20 countries with his Un Tour A Todas Partes. And this summer, for the first time, he will be taking his hits and hip-shaking moves to arenas in the U.S. The U.S. leg kicks off on June 7 in Denver, and he is scheduled to visit other major cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and Houston.
“The tour in the U.S. is very important because it’s a territory that I’ve dreamed of winning over,” he says. “For me, this is the beginning of trying to consolidate my career here, and in many other countries that I’ll be visiting for the first time. I’m so excited! I have butterflies in my stomach.”
Lucas Villa is a freelance music contributor for LATINA and his work is featured in Rolling Stone, Billboard, Teen Vogue, MTV News, and W Magazine.