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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 ...