Latin Artist on the Rise: How Grupo Frontera Went From a Local Band to the Billboard Charts

Earlier this month, Grupo Frontera landed a major collaboration with Carin León, resulting in their latest single, “Que Vuelvas.” Composed and produced by Edgar Barrera, the heartfelt track debuts at No. 15 on Billboard‘s Hot Latin Songs chart this week — and in less than two weeks since its release, its video has amassed nearly 10 million views on YouTube, and is quickly becoming a popular sound on TikTok.  

The group is also simultaneously making the rounds with two Fuerza Regida collabs, called “911” and “Bebe Dame,” proving that they are Música Mexicana’s “it” boys right now. 

But this time last year, Frontera — a six-man ensemble comprised of Adelaido “Payo” Solis III (vocalist and bajo quinto player), Juan Javier Cantú (vocalist and accordionist), Julian Peña Jr. (percussionist and animator), Alberto “Beto” Acosta (bajo quinto), Carlos Guerrero (drums), and Carlos Zamora (bass) — was merely a local band from the Texas border town McAllen, creating music as a hobby and performing at family gatherings.

“We all had our own jobs and didn’t really do things as a group,” Cantú tells Billboard, expressing that once they took the project seriously at the beginning of 2022, great things began to happen. 

The indie Mexican group officially launched this March with an independently-released debut EP that contained four cover versions of timeless pop songs, such as Diego Verdaguer’s “La Ladrona.” But it was a one-off released just a month later — their norteño rendition of “No Se Va,” a 2019 single by Colombian folk-pop group Morat — that catapulted them to fame. 

To date, the music video has nearly 170 million views on YouTube, and the sound has hundreds of thousands of creations on TikTok, where it first gained momentum. “No Se Va” debuted on Hot Latin Songs in September, and scored the group their first top 10 hit on the chart, peaking at No. 3. The track also became only the fifth regional Mexican song to hit the Billboard Hot 100 in the chart’s history, and topped Latin Digital Song Sales for one week in October. 

“Honestly, I think it was the seasoning that we put with the congas,” Cantú says of the cover’s runaway success. “It doesn’t sound like your typical norteño song; in fact, it sounds like something fresh with that reggaetón vibe.”

And it’s precisely that — the group’s “fresh Norteño sound” — that’s making big waves in the music industry.   

“The group’s appeal is very easy,” assures Peña Jr. “We’re trending, we’re moving up, and we’re doing great music that everyone likes. We’re creating music for people of all ages. We’re making romantic songs that you can dedicate. I feel that a lot of artists right now want to release love songs as opposed to party songs, and that’s why they want to work with us.” 

Since their popularity skyrocketed earlier this year, Frontera has sold out shows in Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, California, and Mexico, to name a few. They also closed the year with over 125 million streams on Spotify, and established a relationship with the McAllen-based hitmaker (and Latin Grammy winner) Barrera, who’s working on the group’s upcoming music. Frontera is managed by Victor Ruiz (founder of indie record label VHR Music), who also serves as its booking agent. 

“​You’d think we’ve been playing together for 10 years, but we’ve only been out for a couple of months,” Cantú notes. “I still can’t believe everything that’s happening to us.”

Below, learn more about this month’s Billboard Latin Artist on the Rise.

Names: Adelaido Solis III, Alberto Acosta, Carlos Guerrero, Carlos Zamora, Juan Javier Cantú and Julian Peña Jr.

Ages: 19 to 32

Recommended Song: “Que Vuelvas” (with Carin León)

Biggest Achievement: “Up to now, it’s been two [different career achievements],” Peña Jr. says. “A very important one for us was our concert at the Auditorio Citibanamex in Monterrey. This is where artists such as Luis Miguel and Juan Gabriel have performed, and it was a dream come true for us. The other big accomplishment is that we’re managing to break away from being just a ‘one-hit wonder’ group.”

What’s Next: “We plan to go international in 2023, and already have two very big and important collaborations lined up,” he adds. “We’re also going to announce the tour. Hopefully the first week of January, everyone will already know about Grupo Frontera’s first-ever tour.”

Jessica Roiz