In 1954 Ismael Rivera and Rafael Cortijo formed the musical group Cortijo y Su Combo, which played Afro–Puerto Rican rhythms such as Plena and Bomba. The group was based in Santurce, Puerto Rico, and powerfully influenced the development of Caribbean musical styles during the 1950s and 1960s. Rivera's singing style was unmistakable and innovative, oscillating between the harsh urban sound of the new salsa rhythms and the sweet musicality of the old Cuban Son. Indeed, Afro-Cuban singer and bandleader Beny Moré called Rivera “El Sonero Mayor” (“the Greatest Son Singer”). In 1971 Rivera started his own group, called Ismael Rivera y Sus Cachimbos. Rivera also studied and promoted black culture in Puerto Rico by advocating the creation of a museum of Afro–Puerto Rican culture in San Juan.
A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.