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Hiram Guadalupe Pérez

was born on 11 December 1928 on Colón Street in Santucre, in the middle of the Cangrejero neighborhood. He learned to beat a drum in improvised workshops and street rumbas without ever undertaking any formal studies in music. When he was 9 years old, he played a bongo that his cousin made from a can of powdered milk. He mastered the large conga drum and became a musical innovator by creating a combo that included two trumpets, two saxophones, a piano, and kettledrums. At the age of 14, Cortijo played the congas and bongo in the groups of Frank Madera, Miguelito Miranda, and Agustín Cohen, and with the Conjunto de las Hermanas Sustache, the Monchito Muley Group, and the Orquesta de Parques y Recreos, among others.

Cortijo’s ingenuity proved instrumental in the development of the bomba and the plena traditional Puerto Rican musical styles and he spearheaded the later ...

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Mayda Grano de Oro

Cortijo y su combo had a profound influence on Puerto Rican popular music of the 1950s because it promoted the African vernacular rhythms of Plena and Bomba It was the first black group that played in the Condado Hotel one of the most exclusive hotels of the time in ...

Article

Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, José “Cheo” Feliciano moved to New York, where he launched his singing career. In the 1950s he sang on occasion with the Tito Rodriguez big band. From 1957 to 1967 he attained considerable success singing with the Joe Cuba Sextet In the ...

Article

Carlos Dalmau

Juan Morel Campos was born in the city of Ponce, the main cultural center of Puerto Rico during the nineteenth century. He studied music and composition with Manuel G. Tavárez, the most acclaimed Puerto Rican composer of his time. His musical production was varied and rich, including zarzuelas (Spanish light opera), masses, symphonies, waltzes, marches, and danzas. In the latter, Morel Campos made his most important and lasting contribution to classical music in Latin America. Of the 550 works attributed to him, approximately half of them are danzas for piano, including No me toques, El torbellino, Felices dias, and Vano empeño.

Morel Campos created a distinct national style by modifying the classic European molds. For his creative compositions he is considered the father of the danza puertorriqueña. Like other composers in Cuba, Mexico, and Brazil he transformed classical styles by incorporating ...

Article

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.