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Carlos Vázquez Cruz

was born Álvaro José Arroyo González on 1 November 1955 in the coastal city of Cartagena de Indias Colombia various iconic the son of Guillermo Arroyo and Ángela González El Joe as he is also known grew up in a humble family in a marginal neighborhood of Cartagena where he started singing at the age of 8 in the school choir At the same time he accepted a proposal from the saxophonist and bandleader Michi Sarmiento to start singing with orchestras in the bars and brothels of Tesca one of Cartagena s red light districts to earn money to support his household Cartagena was an important port and the city s nightlife scene catered to lots of international visitors with live entertainment With his rare voice and musical creativity Arroyo soon found this job opening up opportunities for him to join several groups He began his professional singing career ...


James Sellman

Rubén Blades is one of the creators of the Latin musical style known as Salsa, which blends various traditions of Afro-Caribbean—particularly Afro-Cuban—dance music. He first gained recognition while singing with Willie Colón and the Fania All-Stars (1976–1981). In 1978 Blades and Colón recorded the breakthrough album Siembra; after two decades, it remains the best-selling salsa album. Since that time, his recordings have enjoyed great success and have broadened the popularity of salsa, bringing Afro-Caribbean dance rhythms not only to Spanish-speaking listeners but also to a large English-speaking and international audience.

During the late 1960s and 1970s, Fania Records and other recording companies of New York City popularized the term salsa as a catchier alternative to the labels Afro Cuban or Afro Caribbean Dance Music Salsa draws from the musical traditions of those who settled the Caribbean basin making particular use of the styles and instruments ...


Peter Szok

salsa percussionist and influential band leader nicknamed “Bush,” was born in Panama City, Panama, on 17 March 1940, to Clarence Buckley and Ethlyn Clarke. The grandson of Afro-Antillean immigrants, he lived in La Boca, a Panama Canal Zone town, until he was 10. As a child, Buckley spoke exclusively English but developed an appreciation for Cuban music, encouraged by an uncle, who played the saxophone and piano and who later directed a jazz orchestra in New York. The period’s radio programs were also influential. On local and short-wave stations, Buckley listened to Afro-Caribbean rhythms and became a fan of Celia Cruz, Benny Moré, Bebo Valdés, and other Cuban performers. In the 1940s and 1950s, many of these artists came to Panama, especially during the Carnival season, and the young Buckley and his friends gathered in the toldos the open air venues that were erected for their presentations and ...


Rasha Mannaa

was born Yuri Bedoya in Buenaventura, a port on the Pacific coast of Colombia, on 19 May 1967 His first name was given in honor of the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin the first man in space He took Buenaventura as his artistic nickname not only in recognition of his native city but also to highlight the vibrancy of African culture in that city His father Manuel Bedoya born in Carmen de Atrato Chocó Colombia was a music and theater teacher studied French and listened to classical music while reading Jean Paul Sartre Although influenced by these cultural examples Yuri did not at first follow in his father s footsteps and expressed interest in the sciences Shortly after a period of military service he decided to study economics at the University of Paris to afford passage there he had to sell his motorcycle and bike and bought his plane ticket ...


was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, on 1 February 1972. His parents were Dr. Esteban Calderón Ilarraza and Pilar Rosario Parrilla, a schoolteacher. He spent his childhood in Rio Grande, Carolina, and Loíza, towns on the northern part of the island that have retained the influence of Afro-Caribbean cultures.

Calderón grew up absorbing the musical influences of Ismael Rivera (“El Sonero Mayor”), one of the best singers of salsa music, and El Gran Combo, the most traditional established salsa group in Puerto Rico. During the 1970s, salsa was as its peak in popularity, and Latin jazz was beginning to develop a massive following. Willie Colón, Rubén Baldes, Héctor Lavoe, the great composer Catalino “Tite” Curet Alonso, and the Fania All-Stars were some of the premier acts in the salsa genre.

Calderón moved to Miami in the 1980s and completed his high school degree at Beach Senior High In Miami ...


Nicknamed the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz recorded more than seventy albums, collaborating with many of the leading figures in Latin popular music. Her career spanned more than five decades, during which Cruz gained a reputation for her tireless work, warm personality, and emotive style of singing. In performance, Cruz was known for skillfully improvising lyrics. She was one of a few successful female vocalists in a genre dominated by men.

Born in a poor section of Havana, Cuba, Cruz demonstrated her singing talents at a very young age, but she studied to be an elementary-school teacher because her father did not consider singing to be a suitable career for a woman. Encouraged by her mother and a teacher, she nevertheless pursued a singing career.

Cruz began her musical career performing for prizes in contests held on the radio or at local venues. In 1950 she became ...


Juan Carlos Rodriguez

singer, popularly known as the Queen of Salsa, was born Ursula Hilaria Celia Caridad Cruz Alfonso in the Santo Suárez neighborhood of Havana, Cuba, the second daughter of Catalina “Ollita” Alfonso, a housewife, and Simón Cruz, a railroad stoker.

From an early age, Cruz was drawn to music. She was born into an era in Cuba where musical styles such as guaguanco and guaracha carried West African rhythms into the streets. One of the first styles she was drawn to was Cuban sons, languid tropical ballads sung by popular radio singers, and she was particularly influenced by Paulina Alvarez. Argentine tangos by Carlos Gardel were also among her favorites. Despite her father's disapproval, Cruz's mother and her aunt Ana, two major figures in her life, encouraged her to sing.

More profoundly however Cruz came to learn about her own African roots when she stole away with a young ...


Beatriz Rivera-Barnes

Afro-Cuban musician. Cruz was born Úrsula Hilaria Celia Caridad Cruz Alfonso in a neighborhood known as Santos Suárez in Havana, Cuba. In her autobiography she describes Santos Suárez as the poorer section of a working-class neighborhood of different races and ethnicities. As to the date of her birth, she always said that anyone wishing to know her age would have to wait until the funeral home made the date public.

Early on, Cruz's father insisted that each of his children must have a profession, so she decided to become a schoolteacher. In 1947 however while she was a student at Havana s teacher s college one of her cousins signed her up to compete in an amateur singing contest at a local radio station the first of many contests she won Though she became well known at several radio stations owing to her singing prowess she only entered ...


Sandra Colón Mendinueta

was born Oscar Emilio León Somoza on 11 June 1943 in Antímano one of the thirty two parishes of Caracas Venezuela He is the only son of Justo León a Venezuelan bricklayer who worked in the Antímano Cemetery and Carmen Dionisia Somoza a housewife D León s passion for music began at a very young age He listened to Beny Moré a Cuban singer songwriter famous for interpreting different genres of Cuban music such as the mambo and the bolero two of his principal influences He also listened to Celia Cruz another Cuban singer and groups such as la Sonora Matancera and el Trío Matamoros among others His love of music also inspired him to become an expert practitioner of the bass guitar which he learned to play by observing how other musicians produced notes on it Despite his musical talent however the Devil or Lion of salsa as ...


Álvaro Baquero

was born in Quibdo, in the department of Choco, Colombia, in 1958, the son of Celio and Consolacion, a teacher. Alexis’s affinity for music emerged in early childhood, when he “sat down in the dining room of his home and used plates, forks and glasses to make music” (Aguirre, 2011). Later on he would sing Caribbean merengue in a household described by his youngest brother as a “magnet for music. The best musicians left their sweat there along with the best music” (ibid.). When he was 9 years old, he received his first guitar lesson from Everto Lozano, his brother and teacher. Later he would attend music classes as well.

By the age of 10 Lozano was already playing with his own band Los Tremenditos The Little Tremendous which was sponsored by a neighbor Adrian Castillo The sextet his brother Everto recalled was extremely busy because they ...


was born on 30 August 1951 in the Alameda neighborhood of the city of Cali, Valle del Cauca, in southwestern Colombia. He is the oldest of three brothers, followed by Henry, a public accountant, and Hermes, a singer and songwriter. His parents were Esmelda Gil and Rufino Manyoma, both miners who moved from the department of Chocó in Cali. They separated later, and Esmelda assumed the care of their three children.

At the age of 13 uninspired by academics and much more interested in traveling the world Wilson ran away from his mother s house and journeyed to Buenaventura a city on the coast two hours from Cali where he earned his keep by cleaning bars where sailors came in search of prostitutes He learned to dance salsa and as he describes it the salsa moved him body and soul He lived in Buenaventura for less than seven months because ...


best known as “Piper Pimienta,” was born in the municipality of Puerto Tejada, department of Cauca, Colombia on 4 August 1939. When Molina was 3 years old, his family moved to a working-class neighborhood in Cali, Colombia, where he grew up. Even as a child his artistic talents and his motivation to develop them were evident. He participated in several local amateur contests, demonstrating his singing and dancing abilities, notably on The 100 Neighborhoods of Cali, a radio talent show for singers in Cali. However, because he consistently won first place, he was disqualified from the competition by the judges in 1961. Molina also performed in various nightclubs in Cali, such as Las Tortugas and El Aguacate, among other popular rumba hotspots.

Molina was more commonly known as Piper Pimienta owing to his particular form of dance and because of a comparison an uncle once made between ...


Frances A. Pérez-Rodríguez

was born Pedro Juan Rodríguez Ferrer, on 31 January 1933, in Ponce, Puerto Rico, the second child of Emiliano Rodríguez and Anatilde Ferrer. Rodríguez and his older sister, Ana Emilia, were raised near La Mayor Cantera Street in Ponce, where their mother worked odd jobs and their father was a carpenter who occasionally sang with his salsa quartet, El Gondolero (The Gondolier). Rodríguez inherited his father’s love of music and accompanied the band by playing the bongos when he was about 5 years old. He was 12 years old when his father passed away from tuberculosis. Struggling to raise her son, Anatilde sent him to New York City to live with his aunt in 1945.

While he was still living in his hometown of Ponce Rodríguez had begun trumpet lessons Unfortunately music was put on the back burner once he arrived in New York City where he had ...


Eric Paul Roorda

was born in 1937 in Manoguayabo, a suburb of Santo Domingo, Domincan Republic. One of the most versatile and commercially successful performing artists in the history of the Dominican Republic, his career began in the 1950s and lasted six decades. He was chiefly a vocalist, but also a multi-instrumentalist who played guitar, bass, piano, and several percussion instruments, including the guïro, maracas, congo, and especially the tambora drum. He is considered the greatest Dominican sonero (performer of son music) of all time, was the founder and bandleader of one of the best-known salsa and merengue orchestras ever, and was instrumental in popularizing bachata music as a producer, disc jockey, and bathatero in his own right.

Valoy’s given name was Ramón, but he was always known as Cuco cuckoo He grew up in the impoverished Villa Juana section of Santo Domingo His father a carpenter encouraged his musical ability and ...


Gladys Zubiría Fuentes

was born on 9 December 1949, in Quibdó, the capital of Chocó, Colombia. He was the son of Teresa Martínez de Varela, a noted teacher and poet, and Pedro Antonio Varela, a businessman. His career as a musician began at the age of 8, when his mother gave him his first guitar and he founded his first band, La Timba. His childhood was not an easy one, however. He was born into a large family, and his mother had to raise him and his five brothers by herself. He first met his father when he was 9 years old in the town of Domingodó, in Chocó. Despite the difficulties caused by the absence of his father, he was considered a well-mannered boy. He stayed in Quibdó up until 1966 when at age 17 he decided to move to the nation s capital Bogotá to establish his career in ...