When Lili Zetina was a small child, she used to pretend that the sheep she fed on her family’s modest ranch were an audience and she put on a show for them. Her earliest memories of wanting to sing were when she was 3 years old growing up in the state of Michoacán in Mexico.
“My childhood was difficult because we were very poor,” says Zetina. “But living in poverty shaped my life and it now makes me appreciate what God gives me every single day.” Music became an escapism out of that world. And it was also what really nourished her soul. “For me, music was and always will be my solace and a kind of redemption of joy or sorrow.”
Although music was part of her daily life, with Chalino Sánchez and other corrido artists playing her life, pursuing a career in music seemed unthinkable. So she set those dreams aside. She married young and emigrated to the United States to seek the so-called Sueño Americanoor the American Dream. Since then, she has been busy, going from waitressing to singing in restaurants (the same one she was a waitress in) and now a promising corridos career, where she has made a name for herself in a male-dominated space. Her songs like “Te Cobraron Caro Los Años” and “El Grande De U,” like all corridos at their core, tell stories of hardship.
“My style of songwriting, I don’t think I ever learned how to write a song, in fact I didn’t even know I could write,” she says. “But from the bad something good always comes out. So my first song was born out of a betrayal. From then on I just wrote about things that happened to me because other people are going through this too.”
Zetina, who launched her own label, Zetina Records, to release her own music, says that while there is still inequality in the genre, sharing success stories like hers will inspire a new generation of regional Mexican artists. “I think it will always be difficult,” she begins. “But I’ve always said, people will start believing in you when you prove to them that you mean business.”
For now, Zetina wants to continue being an independent artist and continue to grow her brand on her own. “I have my own label, and I’m not saying this to brag. As a woman, no one will really support you. And we have to show men that they value and respect us in this genre.”
Zetina is set to be part of the Women on the Rise panel at this year’s Billboard Latin Music Week, which will be moderated by singer/songwriter Elena Rose. She is joined by other new actors such as Tini, Emilia Mernes, Tokischa and Mariah Angeliq. The interview will take place on Tuesday, September 27, at Faena in Miami.
The 32nd edition of Latin Music Week, the longest-running Latin music industry gathering in the world, will be packed with back-to-back performances by artists such as Chiquis, Ivy Queen, Camilo, Romeo Santos, Maluma, Grupo Firme and Chayanneto name a few, during the week in Miami.
Below you will find out this month’s Latins on the way:
Name: Lilia Zetina Marin
Recommended song: It’s hard to choose, but “Hola Papá” is probably the song that defines me. I never thought I would be a songwriter; I just write what I feel. But especially this one, every time I feel sadness in my heart, I remember it. I wrote it to my father.
Major achievement (to date): I would say being able to feed my children working in my dream career. Today, I can give my children a better life, and that’s beyond anything I’ve been able to achieve as a songwriter. And also that I am one of the women in regional Mexican who works really hard among a crowd of only men.
What’s next: I’m enjoying every month this year, so there are a lot of corrido duets that I’ll be posting. I have a duet with El Mimoso, Banda Los Costeños, Erika Vidrio, Diana Reyes and many others. I also want a role in an upcoming Mexican movie and I am planning many projects for 2023.