Amaia Montero Saldías , best known as the vocalist of La Oreja de Van Gogh between 1996 and 2007, is a singer/songwriter from Basque Country, Spain. Including her work with the band, Montero has sold more than 6.5 million albums worldwide.
Amaia Liriano is the daughter of José Montero and Pilar Saldías, and has an older sister, named Idoia. She attended UPV/EHU studying Chemistry, where she met the rest of the members of La Oreja de Van Gogh. When the band became famous, she switched studies to Psychology at the UNED. She later stopped studying.
Although Montero has played for crowds of over 120,000 she claims to be very shy. Her personality has been described as sociable, fun, and very accessible.
She has a vocal instructor, and although she cannot attend classes regularly due to lack of time, the benefit to her voice is evident. Montero had nodules in the throat when in 1998 recorded Dile al sol but after the first tour the nodules were removed.
"La Oreja de Van Gogh" was formed in 1996, after guitarist Pablo Benegas, bassist Álvaro Fuentes, keyboardist Xabi San Martín, and drummer Haritz Garde met at a local university. Amaia Montero joined the band subsequently, following an invitation by Benegas. The two met at a dinner party after he heard Montero singing Sinéad O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U".
After experimenting with band names, such as "Los Sin Nombre" they decided on La Oreja de Van Gogh which means Van Gogh's ear.
In 1998 the band were signed by Sony BMG, after they won a Rock Festival in San Sebastián. Amaia then completed work on the band's first album Dile al sol, which sold about 800,000 copies in Spain.
La Oreja de Van Gogh's second studio album, released on September 11, 2000, received the name of El viaje de Copperpot (Copperpot's Journey). This album was highly successful, selling more than 1,200,000 copies in Spain, being certified Diamond. It sold 750,000 copies in Mexico going 3x Platinum (750,000 Copies before 2000 would be Diamond or 7x Platinum) and more than 2,000,000 worldwide.
In 2001 they won an award for Best Spanish Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards held in Germany.
In 2003, they released their third album Lo que te conté mientras te hacías la dormida. It was their first album to sell impressively in the Americas, with over 100,000 copies sold in the States alone, and more than 2,500,000 copies worldwide. It continued the band's success; eight singles from the album charted in Spain, four of them reaching number one, while the band continued to break into the Latin American markets, including the States. They won several awards in the wake of the album, including an award for Best Group or Duet at the MTV Video Music Awards Latinoamérica 2004, and an Ondas Award for Best Album. The album also received a Grammy Award nomination, for Best Latin Album. With this release the band took the live act, to France, Japan, Mexico, and the rest of Latin America, including a sold-out concert at Luna Park in Argentina, and two shows with crowds of over 30,000 each concert in Chile, where they received all possible audience acceptance awards when they performed at the 2005 Viña del Mar International Song Festival, taming the usually demanding crowd (traditionally called "El Monstruo", or "The Monster", because of their enthusiasm).
In 2006, Amaia Montero and La Oreja de Van Gogh, released their fourth and last work together called: Guapa. This album was highly successful too, being certified 7x platinum in Spain, 2x platinum in Mexico, 1x platinum in Argentina and Chile, and 1x Gold in Colombia and USA. Sony Music issued a special edition of this album for the Italian market as well. In 2006, the band won a Latin Grammy Award for Best Pop Album By a Duo or Group, a second nomination at the MTV Europe Music Awards for Best Spanish Act, 3 nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards Latinoamérica 2006 for Artist of the Year, Best Group or Duet and Best Pop Artist. And in 2007 they received all audience acceptance awards at Viña del Mar International Song Festival 07.
The Guapa Tour went through Latin America, USA, and part of Europe, with more than 50 shows in Spain.
In 2007, she thought that she had more opportunities the band said that they would be on hiatus so that Amaia could release her solo album. Amaia announced her departure from the group on November 19, 2007, hoping to launch a solo career.
La Oreja de Van Gogh remains active and successful and has now released two albums with new lead singer Leire Martínez.
Montero recorded her first solo album in the Italian cities of Genoa and Milan, and mixed the songs at Henson Recording Studios in Los Angeles. It was released on November 18, 2008 in Spain and went to number one there, selling 40,000 copies in its first week.
“ "I will never forget this first album. It has been a learning, both professional and personal. As a mature coup. It has been like starting from below zero, with the feelings of a flower skin, with the possibility of feeling myself." - Amaia said during an interview.
"I left the band for an artistic need, to express what I am, I will always have in my entire love and affection, after what we have lived together as a family. It is a tribute to all those wonderful years" - Amaia recounted."
The self-titled album contains eleven songs composed by Montero. She dedicates a song to her former bandmates (Tulipan) and to her father (407) who was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. "Quiero Ser". was the first single released from the album, which peaked at number one in Spain, in its first week. On January 2009, "Quiero Ser" became the longest charting number one single in the Spanish airplay history with 13 consecutive weeks in the number one spot.
The same month, Montero started the international promotion of her debut solo album. After three weeks of promotion she had to stop the tour, and cited personal reasons. A few days later Diariovasco.com confirmed the death of Amaia's father.
Amaia Montero performed for the first time in her solo tour with Kudai & 84 in the Peruvian city Cusco, She also said that she would never forget this concert because it was the first one. Movistar promoted her tour 2009 that continues in Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Spain.