In less than one week, the Latin music world has lost another of its most iconic artists. After the death of the Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, Salsa music mourns Jairo Varela, the prolific songwriter and founder of the legendary Colombian band Grupo Niche. The artist, who was 62, passed away in his home in Cali, Colombia.
Jairo Varela is easily one of the best songwriters Salsa music has ever produced. After founding Grupo Niche in 1978, this talented musician wrote some of the most memorable Salsa songs ever recorded including tracks such as "Buenaventura Y Caney," "Cali Pachanguero," "Una Aventura," and "Gotas De Lluvia," among many, many more.
Musically speaking, Jairo Varela and his Grupo Niche created a new school of Salsa whose sound was defined by its fast beats, solid percussion and vibrant brass sessions. Thanks to Jairo Varela, Colombian Salsa found its own place in a genre that was largely dominated by the music of bands from New York and Puerto Rico.
Jairo Varela, in fact, injected a sense of pride among Colombians about the music they were able to produce. I grew up in Colombia listening to the music of Grupo Niche and I was lucky enough to witness their transformation into one of the best bands in Salsa music. I still remember the words that proud caleños (the inhabitants from Cali) expressed after a face-off against El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico back in the early 1980s: "We went to see El Gran Combo and we ended up seeing Grupo Niche."
Besides putting Colombian music on the spotlight, Jairo Varela created a rich repertoire of Salsa dura and romantic tracks that touched every corner of the human condition. He wrote songs about love (e.g. "Nuestro Sueno," "Busca Por Dentro"), traditional culture (e.g. "Canoa Rancha," "Mi Mama Me Ha Dicho") and even social issues (e.g. "Ana Mile," "Etnia").
Above all, however, Jairo Varela exalted Afro-Colombian culture and his beloved Cali through songs such as "Del Puente Pa'lla," "Mi Valle Del Cauca" and "Cali Aji." His hit song "Cali Pachanguero" has been the city's unofficial anthem since 1984, when the song was released with Niche's breakthrough album No Hay Quinto Malo.
The Latin music world has lost one of its most creative minds. Jairo Varela who found most of his inspiration in Cali, a city called by its inhabitants La Sucursal del Cielo (The Branch of Heaven) has just moved to the headquarters. His music, however, will remain with us forever. R.I.P.
Top Bachata Artists: A Selection of Top Singers from Traditional & Urban Bachata
During the last years, Bachata music has gained enourmous popularity all over the place. In fact, some of today's top Bachata artists are also some of the most influential Latin musicstars in the world. From Bachata pioneers such as Anthony Santos and Raulin Rodriguez to Urban Bachata stars like Romeo Santos and Prince Royce, the following singers are responsible for transforming this Dominican rhythm into one of the most popular Latin music genres.
Anthony 'El Mayimbe' Santos
Anthony Santos is one of the first artists who was able to expose Bachata to a mainstream audience. Considered by many one of the most influential Bachata artists of all time, he changed this genre by adding romantic lyrics into his music. Some of his most famous hits include songs like "Corazon Culpable," "Voy Pa'lla" and the popular Bachata version of Los Tigres del Norte's single "Golpes En El Corazon".
During the last decade, Joe Veras has been defining the sounds of modern Bachata. In 2004, he was honored by the Billboard Latin Music Awards with the Tropical Airplay Track Of The YearAward. Some of his most popular hits include songs like "Intentalo Tu" and "La Pared". He recently released a nice Bachata version of Lionel Richie's classic hit "Hello".
This popular boy band opened the field for a new sound that ended up defining the roots of Urban Bachata. Aventura was, in fact, the first band to include Hip-Hop and R&B influences into their music. The band became a worldwide phenomenon thanks to the hit track "Obsesion".
This duo from The Bronx is another popular name of today's Urban Bachata movement. The group was formed by singers Danny Mejia and Steven Tejada. Top songs by Xtreme include hits like "Te Extrano" and "Shorty Shorty".
Hector 'El Torito' Acosta
Hector 'El Torito' Acosta is one of the most popular Bachata artists. Besides Bachata he is also a talented singer in the fields of Merengue and Bolero. Some of his best Bachata songs include titles like "Me Voy" and "Sin Perdon".
This Dominican artist is an important player of the group of pioneers who exposed Bachata to new audiences. A talented guitarist, Luis Vargas was one of the first Bachata artists to incorporate electric guitar into this genre. Some of his best songs include "Con Los Crespos Hechos" and "Loco De Amor".
Alongside Romeo Santos, this singer from The Bronx is one of today's most popular Bachata stars. Thanks to his debut album and the recently released production Phase II, Prince Royce has captured audiences all over the world. Top hits include "Stand By Me," "Corazon Sin Cara" and "Las Cosas Pequenas".
Yoskar Sarante has been a leading figure of modern Bachata. His music has been shaped around his romantic songs and style. Titles such as "La Noche" and "No Tengo Suerte En El Amor" are some of the most popular Bachata songs recorded by this popular Dominican artist.
Carlos Y Alejandra
Originally from The Bronx, this duo was formed by Carlos Vargas Franco Jr. and Bianca Alejandra Feliz. Just like all the other stars coming from The Bronx, their music belongs to the Urban Bachata style. Top hits include singles such as "Cuanto Duele" and "Melodia De Amor".
Juan Luis Guerra
Although Juan Luis Guerra, one of the living legends of Latin music, is mostly known for his Merengue repertoire, this Dominican artist has also produced outstanding Bachata songs. Some of his most popular Bachata hits include tracks like "Bachata Rosa" and "Bachata En Fukuoka".
Bachata Heightz is one of the pioneering groups of the Urban Bachata style. The name of this popular band comes from the neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City where this group was formed. Their music and style is heavily defined by Hip-Hop and R&B influences. Top bachata songs from this band include "Me Puedo Matar" and "No Sabes Del Amor".
Just like Anthony 'El Mayimbe' Santos, this Dominican artist is one of the figures responsible for exposing Bachata music to new audiences. A big chunk of his popularity was the result of his ability to incorporate romantic lyrics into his music. He is widely considered one of the most essential Bachata artists in history.
One of the most popular stars of traditional Bachata, Frank Reyes is usually referred to as The Prince of Bachata. A prolific songwriter, Frank Reyes's repertoire includes hits such as "Amor Desperdiciado," "Princesa" and "Tu Eres Ajena".
Before moving into a successful solo career, this singer from The Bronx was a backup singer for the popular Bachata band Aventura. Toby Love has been acknowledged as the artist responsible for combining Crunk music with Bachata. Some of his most famous tracks include "Tengo Un Amor" and "Te Parece Poco".
Elvis Martinez has been producing Bachata music since the late 1990s. Some of the most popular songs recorded by this Domnican singer include titles like "Asi Te Amo" and "Tu Traicion".
Since 1997, this Dominican singer has built a reputation as one of the best Bachata artists out there. He has produced an extensive repertoire of popular Bachata songs including titles like "Me Sobran Las Palabras" and "Quedate Conmigo". If you are just getting into Bachata music, Zacarias Ferreira is definitely an artist you need to listen to.
A leading figure of the Urban Bachata field, Romeo Santos is at the top of any list dealing with Bachata artists. He became a star as a lead singer for the sensation boy band Aventura. After that, he has continued to nurture a succesful solo career with his unique style. Some of his most popular hits include singles like "Obsesion," "Promise" and "You".
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