In 2005, Ednita Nazario sang for the first time at Coliseo de Puerto Rico. Beyond selling 15,000 tickets, the moment was memorable because Coliseo had only opened its doors the year before and Nazario –perhaps Puerto Rico’s most beloved female singer — had been instrumental in lobbying for its construction. That night, she became the first woman to sing at the venue, affectionately known as “El Choli.”
Today, nearly 20 years later, Nazario holds the record as the woman with most shows at the fabled venue. After her sold-out performances of her “La Reina” (The Queen) shows on Saturday (May 13) and Sunday (May 14), she’ll also become the artist with most sold-out shows after Wisin & Yandel.
Billboard spoke with Nazario about what it means to return to Coliseo and what has happened there throughout her 21 shows.
How do you feel?
“I’m almost speechless, super excited and I can’t believe it. Who could imagine 21 shows was possible? It feels like the first time. It’s one of the things that’s most struck me about my job. The longer I do it, the nerves, the adrenaline, the fast-beating heart, the butterflies in my stomach, they’re a constant.”
What is your most requested song?
“The one that always has to be there, that they’ll request even if I’ve sung for three hours, is ‘Quiero que me hagas el amor (I want you to make love to me).’ It’s an iconic song in my repertoire that I’ll never be able to remove from my rundown. I tried it once and was very sorry. It’s the most expected song. Always.”
The song you most enjoy singing?
“That one. Without a doubt. It’s like an escape valve. It’s a license for free expression, passion, emotion, that takes me on my own trip. I love it, I lie down, I give it my all, I let go. And it’s such a beautiful moment because I see the faces of the audience, and they also go on their own trip, because it’s a very personal, very intimate song.”
I read once that chefs always include their favorite dishes in the menu, sometimes surreptitiously. Think lobster at a steakhouse. Which of your songs is like that?
“I always do that, even in my albums. There are songs I include because, independent of whether they fit or not, they are the lobsters in my steakhouse. In my shows, there’s several song s that are cathartic. Obviously, the show overall is meant to serve the audience, and give them what they want. But in this one, I added a couple of lobsters. There’s one moment that has a message that needs to be there. And the other is a super fun song called ‘Cansada de estar cansada (Tired of Being Tired).’ It’s a really fun rock ‘n’ roll I wrote several years ago, but is still relevant today.”
Tell me about your first Coliseo?
“It was the ‘Apasionada’ show in 2005 and I was so nervous because it was my first time there. Coliseo is very personal to me because I was part of a group of people who lobbied for its construction. At the time, Puerto Rico didn’t have a venue like that, and I lobbied hard with businessmen and other people to have it built. It was definitely a historic moment, as a woman, as a Puerto Rican artist. Selling out that venue three consecutive nights is something I don’t take for granted.”
“When the bed comes down from the ceiling during ‘Quiero que me hagas el amor.’ That’s an iconic moment. So much so that we have a memorabilia exhibit at the entrance of this show, and the original bed is there. Another moment was when Ricky Martin showed up as a surprise guest. Or the first time I invited reggaetón artist, which wasn’t done at the time. I brought Héctor el Father and Ivy Queen in an amazing duet. Also, the time I had Luis Angel, the father of my daughter, and she also came onstage. He wrote some of my most iconic songs, and sang them with me. Those are unforgettable moments.”
“There was a show where I had to fly over the audience while sitting on a swing. And for some reason, the swing started to spin around. It got tangled high above and formed a sort of braid. So I was spinning around like a crazy person over people’s heads, and I wasn’t tied to anything. I was terrified. But I think the adrenaline helped me and I just kept on singing.”
After so many shows, what will be different this time?
“We’re doing a kind of recap of iconic moments of those past 19 shows. And we’ve chosen specific songs from each of those shows, although obviously, I’ll include new material. The concept of ‘La Reina’ comes from having been called ‘The Queen of El Choli.’ But i gave it a twist, because I think we carry our kingdoms within. All human beings are monarchs of their own castles, and that castle is what you carry inside: Your mind and your spirit. And we can all reign over our own lives while we’re here. So, it will be like a reunion of monarchs where we all are kings and Queens. We built a central runway that takes me to the middle of the audience so I can see them up close. And obviously, the songs are those that have really resonated with them. And, yes, we’ll have special surprises.”
How will you celebrate?
“After the first show, I’ll go to sleep. After the second one, we have an after party with the team and my daughter will also be there. She flew in this week. I also told everyone on staff to bring their moms, because we’ll be working Mother’s Day. It will be a special night.”