Jay Wheeler’s year is off to a great start after being named Apple Music’s first Up Next Artist of 2022, making his late-night television debut, and releasing a new EP — all in the same week.
The Puerto Rican singer-songwriter is the latest addition to Apple Music’s monthly program that’s geared toward identifying, showcasing, and elevating rising talent. He joins the list that once profiled Bad Bunny, Natanael Cano, and other Latin stars.
As part of the campaign, Wheeler, who landed on DJ Nelson’s radar in 2018 with his song “Por Tu Culpa,” counts with an Up Next film, where he opens up about being a victim of bullying, believing in himself, and his supportive loved ones. He also sat down with host Sandra Peña for an interview to discuss his upcoming projects, which includes his English-language album.
“I knew that eventually, I was going to do English music,” he said, explaining that he’s been inspired by artists such as Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, and Boyz II Men. “I wanted to learn their culture, beats, colors, and what it was to work with their producers, and it was just that. It was very different, but I loved it. I took pronunciation classes because it’s not the same talking as singing. It was the hardest thing in the world. It took me one year to do my first song in English.”
On his new EP, De Mi Para Ti, Wheelers shares his two English songs (“Take My Life” and “Can’t Figure U Out”) as a preview of his upcoming all-English language album dubbed Good Music for Bad Days.
“It’s crazy that I have an English album,” he noted. “For me, that’s an achievement. I’m not expecting to go big. This is a personal project for me that I love, and if people like it, good. If not, I’m sorry, but that’s my baby.”
Hailing from Guayamo, Puerto Rico, the artist born Jose Angel Lopez Martinez has positioned himself as one of the new romantic voices in reggaeton. His fans even gave him the nickname “La Voz Favorita” because of his melodic tone and heartfelt lyrics. His love for music derived from watching musicals, as well as his mother, father, and grandmother, who all sang in church. Wheeler earned his first No. 1 on Billboard’s Latin Airplay chart with “Viendo al Techo” in April 2021 and was nominated at the Latin Grammys with “La Curiosidad.”
As part of the Up Next program, Wheeler made his late-night TV debut with a performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Wednesday night (Jan. 12). “This is a dream come true,” he wrote on Instagram. “Thanks to all of you, we’re slowly achieving incredible things. I love you.”
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