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Eric Paul Roorda

a baritone singer of criollas, boleros, merengues, and other Dominican music, was the first internationally known Dominican musical performer, and one of the pioneers of radio performance and the music recording industry in his country. He was born in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, on 22 January 1906, with the given name Eleuterio, to the unwed parents Julián Álvarez Brito and Liborio Aragonés, and raised by his single mother. He started working with her at a young age in the Venus restaurant, running orders, and grew up as a laborer in a variety of other menial pursuits, such as apprentice to a blacksmith and as a shoemaker, tobacco packer, furniture mover, boxing referee, and, most famously, as a shoeshine boy, an occupation in which he gained attention by singing beautifully as he worked.

Brito met the composer Julio Alberto Hernández in 1926 in the city of Santiago de los ...

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musician considered the godfather of modern merengue típico (traditional accordion-based merengue) and revered as one of its greatest stars, was born on 30 July 1943 in the town of Nagua on the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic. Tatico learned his trade early from his father, Bolo Henríquez, and uncle, Bilo Henríquez, both noted accordionists. His first post was playing for the games of the local baseball team. In 1964 the young man’s budding talent was discovered by Matoncito (Ramón Amézquita Díaz), then among the best-loved musicians in the Cibao, the northern region home to merengue típico. Tatico subsequently learned a great deal of repertoire and accordion technique from Matoncito.

In 1966 Tatico became more widely known when he started performing with the Trío Reynoso on national radio Not only was the country just coming out of a tumultuous period of political upheaval following the assassination of the ...

Article

Sydney Hutchinson

known as “El Rey” (The King) of merengue, who also sings boleros and other Caribbean music, was born on 6 April 1920 near San Isidro on the outskirts of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. He grew up in Villa Juana, then the red-light district of San Isidro. He never knew his father. His mother, Altagracia Mateo, was a washerwoman originally from San Cristóbal, an area known for its Congo-Angolan musical traditions. Joseíto worked from an early age, doing errands for prostitutes, selling oranges and peanuts, and breaking rock used in construction projects that followed the destruction of the city of Santo Domingo by Hurricane Zenón in 1930.

In the 1930s Mateo began his career by singing with the guitar-based groups that were then popular in cabarets (brothels). The repertoire consisted mainly of boleros and sones genres imported from Cuba but locally popular and only the ...

Article

Rob Garrison

Johnny Ventura, affectionately called El Caballo (The Horse), has been praised as one of the few artists to successfully blend politics and music. His achievements are facilitated by a strong sense of national identity and a connection with the masses. Ventura made merengue the country's main musical form and a symbol of national identity accessible to all social classes. Unlike most other politicians, Ventura expresses pride in his African heritage within a society that emphasizes its Spanish and indigenous ancestry. Ventura has used music not only to provide entertainment but also as a medium through which meaningful issues like Dominican identity and concepts of race can be expressed.

Johnny Ventura began his musical career under his birth name, Juan de Dios Ventura Soriano. After winning a 1956 radio station singing competition that drew attention to his powerful smoky voice the singer changed his name to the stylish Johnny ...