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"The top Latin music journalist in the U.S." -Variety

"The beauty that results from crashing different styles into each other is a story that runs through Leila Cobo’s DECODING “DESPACITO." -The New York Times

-Woven throughout Cobo’s remarkable career is a desire to have an impact on Latin music and culture within her native region, in the United States, and across the world. Through her work, Cobo has connected cultures to promote mutual understanding, underscoring the tremendous impact her Fulbright experience has had on her life. -Fulbright

​“Traditionally, music across Latin America has been an oral tradition. A teacher with the gift of storytelling, Leila Cobo's new book, tells that history through 19 songs that had a major impact. -NPR, All Things Considered

- Leila Cobo is an indomitable force of nature. As Billboard’s VP of Latin Music and author of a new book, “Decoding ‘Despacito:’ An Oral History of Latin Music,” she is one of the world’s foremost experts on all things Latin music.” -Pollstar 

-An enthralling read uncovering new truths and inspirations behind some of the groundbreaking songs we'll never forget—from José Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad" to Rosalía's "Malamente."



"One of the best music books of 2021."



"How did “Despacito,” by Luis Fonsi and featuring Daddy Yankee become such a massive hit in the U.S. in 2017?  The author examines the births of notable songs that captured Latin culture in the global imagination. ]Cobo is a highly knowledgeable guide, and she delves deep into the canon to make a convincing case for Latin music as a significant driver of American culture at large. An entertaining oral history."

-Kirkus Reviews

"One of the world's foremost experts on all Latin music." -Pollstar

“I'm a big fan of Leila's novels and have been an avid reader of her Billboard articles for years. She's a music industry insider who really knows her stuff and will have great advice for any young aspiring musician!”

-Gloria Estefan

"In Leila Cobo's new book Decoding “Despacito”: An Oral History of Latin Music, the author and Billboard’s VP of Latin Music breaks down the genre’s biggest singles of the past 50 years in the words of the artists, producers and executives behind each song.

-Rolling Stone





Widely regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities in Latin music and the Latin music industry, Leila Cobo is a novelist, speaker, journalist, TV host and Billboard’s Chief Content Officer for Latin/Español, overseeing the brand’s coverage of Latin music in all its platforms, as well as all its Spanish-language content.


A Fulbright Scholar and pioneering music and media leader, Leila was the first U.S. based journalist to prominently cover Latin music daily and has been instrumental in transforming its coverage and perception worldwide. Leila also programs the yearly Latin Music Week, the most prestigious and largest gathering for the Latin music industry. In 2022, she spearheaded the launch of Billboard Español, Billboard’s all-Spanish website and also launched Billboard’s new Latin Women In Music franchise, which airs on Telemundo.

Leila has interviewed every major name in Latin music, from Shakira to Bad Bunny, from Gloria Estefan to Karol G.  Leila’s most recent book, Decoding Despacito: An Oral History of Latin Music (Penguin Random House), was featured in the New York Times’ summer reading list. She has published two award-winning novels with Grand Central Publishing/Hatchette –“The Second Time We Met” and “Tell Me Something True”-- and biographies on Jenni Rivera and Ednita Nazario with Penguin.  Leila also hosts “In-Tune With Leila Cobo,” her in-depth interview show seen on all U.S. airports via Reach TV.

Leila has degrees in journalism from Bogotá’s Universidad Javeriana and in piano performance from Manhattan School of Music, as well as a master’s in communication management from The Annenberg School at USC. Among many accolades, she received the 2024 “Icono Máximo” award at Premios Icono; the 2020  “Wonder Women of Latin Music” award from the LAMC; the “Music Industry Trailblazer” award from the TJ Martell foundation in 2019; and was named an inaugural “Leading Latin Lady” by the Latin Grammys in 2017.  

Prior to launching her career in journalism, Leila had a successful career as a concert pianist. 

  • An Ingram Magazine "New Voices" Pick.

  • A Starbuck's "Bookish Reading Club" Writer.

  • Las Comadres National Club Picks

  • 2010 Top Ten "New" Latino Authors to Watch. 

  • Best Hispanic Books of 2009 Top 10 List  (The Society of Latino and Hispanic Writers of San Antonio)

  • "Cobo has a beautiful, in depth style of writing that really pulls you into her story.  She is especially gifted at dealing with emotions that we can all relate to."

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