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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 ...

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.