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AARP Goes Behind the Salsa Scene During Hispanic Heritage Month

Posted on 09/29/17 by Stacey Kratz, AARP New York

Whether it is the rhythm that moves you or the poetic nature of the songs, salsa music has a rhythm and passion of its own. AARP celebrates this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month by taking a closer look at the sights and sounds of SALSA!

Salsa music is a mix of Latin musical genres with influences from Cuba, Spain, and Africa. Salsa is an anthem for many Hispanic and Latino cultures. It bridges the gap between cultures, generations, political stance and musical styles. It makes us want to sing, cry, laugh, fall in love and most of all dance! Salsa emerged on the scene in New York City in the mid-1960’s and has managed to weave its percussive sound into present-day mainstream music, movies, and pop culture.

AARP recently sponsored New York’s 33rd Salsa Festival which featured salsa legends: Willie Colón, Eddie Palmieri, Tito Nieves, Grupo Niche, DLG, Eddie Santiago, Tito Rojas, Fruko y Sus Tesos, and more. AARP got the chance to speak with some of the artists before the show to ask them what Hispanic Heritage Month meant to them. Each one shared their own story and message.

Willie ColĂłn was born in the South Bronx and picked up the trombone at a young age. He was signed to Fania records when he was just 15 years old! In addition to playing the trombone, Mr. Colon is an accomplished composer, arranger and singer. Last year he kicked off his 50th Anniversary tour. His music is a combination of jazz, rock, and salsa and he draws inspiration from the many different cultures and styles from his home in New York to his ancestral home in Puerto Rico.

Fun Fact: Willie ColĂłn is currently a Deputy Sergeant with the Westchester County Department of Public Safety.

Frankie Negron is a Jersey boy who turned 40 this year. He blends contemporary sounds from pop, rock, gospel and reggaeton into traditional salsa music. Mr. Negron has tried his hand at acting. He played a supportive role in Paul Simon’s The Capeman. He also appeared on the well-known soap opera, One Life to Live where he performed one of his songs.

Fun Fact: Frankie Negron is a sought-after audio book artist, recording vocals for children’s stories.

Tito Nieves was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the United States. You may remember his popular English-salsa hit, I Like It Like That. Prior to his solo career, Mr. Nieves teamed up with salsa legend Hector Lavoe and his orchestra, Conjunto Clasico. 

FUN FACT: Tito Nieves is known as “El Pavarotti de la Salsa”.

Domingo Quiñones was born in New Jersey and grew up in Puerto Rico. He came to New York City and began his salsa career working with big names like Rafael de Jesus, Jose Alberto (El Canario), Johnny Rodriquez and Tito Puente. Mr. Quinones also tried his hand at acting and played the role of a San Juan music promoter in the film El Cantante

FUN FACT: Played the role of the legendary salsa singer Hector Lavoe in the New York play, “Quien Mato a Hector Lavoe?” (“Who Killed Hector Lavoe?”) 

Eddie Santiago was born in Puerto Rico and has had a love affair with salsa music since a very young age. That might explain why his music was labeled “Salsa romántica” (“romantic salsa”). Mr. Santiago rose up the charts in the 80’s and 90’s and earned him both gold and platinum awards.

FUN FACT: Nominated for a 2006 Grammy Award for Best Salsa/Merengue Album

Watch one-on-one interviews on our Facebook page with Willie Colón, Frankie Negron, Tito Nieves, Domingo Quiñones, and Eddie Santiago and learn more fun and interesting facts that you might not have known about each one of the artists. WEPA!

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