Wilfrido Vargas is one of the most influential Merengue artists in history. A true Merengue pioneer, Vargas revolutionized the sounds of this vibrant Latin music genre, which he exposed to the world during the 1980s. The following is a short biography of the legendary Dominican artist Wilfrido Vargas.
Wilfrido Vargas was born in 1949 in Altamira, a small town located in the Dominican province of Puerto Plata. Just like many other famous artists, Wilfrido Vargas developed his passion for music because he grew up surrounded by instruments and different melodies. Both of his parents were musicians and from an early age he was exposed to the sounds of guitar, flute and accordion.
During the early 1970s, Wilfrido Vargas moved to Santo Domingo to pursue his music dreams. In 1972, he formed his first Merengue band called "Wilfrido Vargas y sus Beduinos." A couple of years later, he created a new band under the name "Wilfrido Vargas y Orquesta."
King of Merengue
Wilfrido Vargas built his reputation during the 1980s. In fact, back then he was the absolute king of Merengue music. He achieved that title because of the way he changed Merengue music by increasing the tempo of it and adding elements from other Tropical genres such as Cumbia, Reggae and Urban sounds.
During this decade, Wilfrido Vargas produced some of his most enduring songs including "Abusadora," "El Jardinero," "Comejen" and "El Africano," among many others. Since then, Wilfrido Vargas has continued his career living out of everything he created during those years.
During the 1990s, Merengue flourished as a worldwide phenomenon thanks to artists like Olga Tañon, Los Hermanos Rosario and Juan Luis Guerra. Even though Wilfrido Vargas lost some of the popularity he gained in previous years, his influence on Merengue music is perennial. He changed this music genre and opened the doors of the world to one of the most vibrant rhythms ever created in Latin Music.
Born: Feb. 3, 1977
In the early 1990s, hip hop was overshadowed by Spanish reggae coming in from Panama and rather than make a decision for one type of music over another, Yankee and like-minded friends began to rap over the popular dancehall music, creating a new musical fusion that over time was named reggaeton.
From his experience with the active street life around him, Yankee had plenty to rap about. For instance, the budding performer had originally hoped for a career in baseball, but when he was 17, he was inadvertently caught in the middle of a barrio shoot-out and was shot in the leg, ending his professional baseball dreams.
Daddy Yankee Records First Album:
While hip hop and rap were still underground movements in Puerto Rico, there was one club where the new fusion was welcome called The Noise. Yankee started hanging out with the rappers and DJs at the club, and there he met the DJ/producer Playero, who gave him his start, featuring the budding artist on the 1992 album Playero 37, and who helped him with his full-length debut album, No Mercy, that was released in 1995. No Mercy did not receive much recognition, and Yankee continued recording as a guest artist on several other albums.
In 2000 and 2001, Yankee independently released El Cartel and El Cartel Vol 2, albums that were very well-received in Puerto Rico, but received little attention in the outside world. In 2003, El Cangri.com caught the attention of urban music fans in Miami and New York, but it was with 2004’s Barrio Fino that brought him global recognition and debuted at the top of the Latin music charts.
Daddy Yankee Becomes Star With 'Barrio Fino':
Barrio Fino owed its phenomenal success to two singles that kept the album at the top of the charts for over a year. Surprisingly, while “Gasolina” made it to the top of Billboard’s "Hot 100" and even today may well be the single that non-Latinos associate with reggaeton, the album’s phenomenal success within the Latino community was “Lo Que Paso, Paso.”
With “Rompe” from the 2005 album Barrio Fino en Directo, Daddy Yankee became the worldwide name associated with reggaeton. Barrio Fino en Directo was released under his own label, El Cartel, and quickly reached platinum status. Yankee then turned his energies to trading in on his name; he crafted deals with everyone from Reebok to Pepsi and, in many ways, became more of an entrepreneur than a musical artist.
El Cartel: The Big Boss:
In 2007, his long-awaited album El Cartel: The Big Boss was released to continued success. But straight reggaeton was starting to wane and Yankee was ready; in attempt to broaden the scope of reggaeton’s popularity, the new album featured a stellar guest list that included Akon, will.i.am and Fergie of the Black-Eyed Peas and Scott Storch, among others.
Recently, Daddy Yankee has turned his attention to the movie industry. His film about a man from the barrio who finds salvation through urban music, Talento de Barrio, is currently in release. Yankee claims the film is only very roughly autobiographical.
If you're interested in listening to the music of Daddy Yankee, here's a list of albums that should get you started on your way.
Born: April 20,1923 in the Bronx, New York.
Died: May 31, 2000 in New York City while undergoing heart surgery.
Quote: "If there is no dance, there is not music."
Tito Puente Awards:
A consummate showman, Puente was called “El Rey del Timbao”(the King of Timbales), the “King of Latin Music’ and the “Sultan of Salsa” (even though he frequently argued that there was no such thing as salsa). So – what was there to be disappointed about? Well, he really wanted to be a dancer.
The Early Years:
Tito Puente was born in the Spanish Harlem section of New York City. His parents emigrated from Puerto Rico a few years before his birth; his father worked as a foreman for a razor blade factory. His mother, Ercilia, started his piano lessons when he was 6 years old and a little later added dance lessons. Unfortunately, Puente had a bicycle accident as a child, seriously injuring his leg and forever ending his dreams of dancing his way to the top.
Although he was trained in piano, Gene Krupa was his hero, and Puente started studying percussion when he was 10. Five years later, he dropped out of school and took a seasonal job with a Miami Beach band where he learned and performed various Latin dance rhythms. Returning to Manhattan, he got a job with Jose Curbelo, who later became the first mambo king.World War II:
Puente was drafted in 1942 and spent 3 years in the Navy, participating in 9 battles and learning to play the saxophone. Thankfully for Latin music, he came back from the war and took advantage of the GI bill. The next few years were spent at the Julliard School of Music, where he studied conducting, orchestration and musical theory
Tito Puente Becomes The King of Mambo:
In 1948 Tito Puente formed his own band, “The Piccadilly Boys”. A regular at the New York Palladium, Puente, Perez Prado and Tito Rodriguez became the stars of the Palladium, and helped popularize the new Cuban music called the mambo. In 1956, he was named the “King of Latin Music” by virtue of a popular poll and 1958 saw the release of his best seller Dance Mania.
Jazz and Rock:
In the 1960s, Puente became interested in jazz. He began playing in New York jazz clubs, trying to fuse jazz and the Latin beat he helped popularize. My favorite album from this period is Night Beat, recorded with Doc Severinson.
In 1970, Carlos Santana recorded an old Puente hit "Oye, Como Va" and it skyrocketed into the Top 40, while in 1977 Santana and Puente performed together in a Manhattan concert that sent the audience into screaming fits of adoration, more typical of a Ricky Martin concert.
Tito Puente never slowed down for a minute, recording his 100th album in 1992, opening a restaurant (see it in the wonderful film Calle 54) and establishing the Tito Puente Scholarship fund in order to help young artists work in music.
Performing until the end, Puente collapsed after a concert in Puerto Rico. He died after open-heart surgery in May 2000.
One of the most popular Reggaeton artists, Don Omar has made a solid contribution to the success this Latin music genre enjoys today. Often referred to as the King of Reggaeton, Don Omar is able to combine a nice Rap flow with rich melodies that borrow elements from different musical styles.
William Omar Landron was born in Puerto Rico in 1978. He grew up in the city of Santurce listening to Latin music genres like Salsa and Merengue. However, from an early age he also developed a taste for Urban music. He started his musical career singing in nightclubs and working as a backup singer for different artists.
'The Last Don'
Don Omar's career kicked off from his very first solo production. Thanks to songs like "Dile," "Dale Don Dale" and "La Noche Esta Buena," his album The Last Don captured Reggaeton fans all over the world. The studio and live versions of this album have sold over a million copies worldwide.
A Reggaeton Idol
By 2006, Don Omar was already a Reggaeton sensation. Because of the popularity enjoyed by his album The Last Don, he was honored with various music awards that included the Best New Artist Award he got at the 2004 Billboard Latin Music Awards.
Don Omar went back to the studio in 2006 to produce his next album: King Of Kings. This production received a Latin Grammy nomination in 2006 for Best Urban Album and sold over 500,000 copies around the globe.
After King Of Kings, Don Omar has continued to build his image as one of the most influential artists of the Reggaeton genre. His albums iDon and Don Omar Presents: Meet The Orphans have also enjoyed big success among fans of this essential Reggaeton artist. In particular, the single "Danza Kuduro" from the latter album has become one of the most successful hits Don Omar has produced to this date.
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