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Ruben Blades

Rubén Blades is one of the most successful vocalists in the history of Panamanian music. A former member of bands led by Ray Barretto and Willie Colón, Blades has continued to influence salsa music with his highly literate, politically tinged lyrics and his modern-minded arrangements, which substitute the usual horn and Latin percussion sections with synthesizers and drum sets. Often referred to as "the Latin Bruce Springsteen," Blades provided a musical voice for the middle class of Central America. Raised in a middle-class neighborhood in Panama City, Blades inherited his musical talents from his parents. His mother, Anoland, who emigrated from Cuba, played piano and sang in Spanish. His father, Ruben Sr., a police detective, played bongos.

Inspired by the doo wop singing of Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, Blades began singing North American pop and rock songs in his early teens. In 1963, he became the lead singer of a band, the Saints, formed by his older brother, Luis. The political upheaval in Panama during the mid-'60s had a profound effect as Blades became increasingly committed to his own roots, refusing to sing in any language but his native Spanish.

While studying law at the University of Panama, Blades continued to be involved with his music, singing with Conjunto Latino and Los Salvajes del Ritmo. In 1968, an album he recorded with Bush and the Magnificos reached Joe Cuba's producer in New York. Invited to join Cuba's band, he declined in order to complete college. When the Panamanian government closed the university, he made his first trip to the United States. While in the U.S., Blades recorded an album, From Panama to New York, with Pete Rodriguez. Shortly after the album's release, the University of Panama was reopened and Blades returned to complete his undergraduate studies. Although he accepted a position as a lawyer for the Bank of Panama, following his graduation, he returned to the U.S., to visit his parents, who had emigrated to Miami, in 1974.

While in the United States, Blades traveled to New York and took a job in the mailroom of the Latin-oriented Fania record label. A year later, he replaced Tito Allen as featured vocalist in Ray Barretto's band, auditioning in Fania's mailroom. When Barretto left to form a Latin fusion group, Blades took over as bandleader and renamed the group Guarare. In 1975, Blades composed and sang lead on Barretto's recording "Canto Abacua," featured on the album Barretto. As a result, Blades was named Composer of the Year by Latin New York magazine. Blades had also been playing with Willie Colón's band, and he remained with Colón for six years. Their collaboration reached its apex with the three-million-copy-selling album Siembra, which included the single "Pedro Navaja," the biggest selling single in salsa history. Blades' politically oriented lyrics were not universally accepted. In 1980, his song "Tiburon," which spoke out against superpower intervention in the Caribbean, was banned from radio airplay in Miami.

Forming his own band, Los Seis del Solar, in 1982, Blades began to perform an exciting fusion of Latin, rock, reggae, and Caribbean music. Their debut album, Buscando América, was released in 1983. A year later, Blades enrolled in the graduate school at Harvard University, eventually receiving a master's degree in international law.

Since the early '80s, Blades has balanced his musical career with acting and writing songs for such films as The Last Fight, Crossover Dreams, Critical Condition, Fatal Beauty, The Milagro Beanfield War, Dead Man Out, Disorganized Crime, The Lemon Sisters, The Two Jakes, Predator 2, One Man's War, The Josephine Baker Story, Crazy From the Heart, Color of Night, A Million to Juan, Scorpion Spring, and The Devil's Own. Blades shared the title role, with Marc Anthony, in Paul Simon's Broadway musical The Capeman.

Blades, who lives in California with his actress wife Lisa Lebenzon, has remained active with politics. The founder of a new political party in Panama, he ran for president of Panama in 1994, coming in second in the election. While much of Blades' repertoire is in the Spanish language, he recorded an English-language album, Nothing But the Truth, featuring songs by Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, and Sting, in 1988.

The 1990s were relatively busy ones for Blades musically, and he released several albums, including Ruben Blades y Son del Solar...Live! (1990), Caminando (1991), Amor y Control (1994), La Rosa de los Vientos (1996), and Tiempos (1999) before stepping back a bit in the first decade of the 21st century, releasing Mundo in 2002, the Live! In Concert DVD in 2006, and De Panama a Nueva York in 2008. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: De Panama A Nueva York, From Panama To New York: Con La Orquesta De Pete Rodriguez

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Track List: Paula C (Version Tango) (Single)

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Track List: Pedro Navaja (Version Tango) (Single)

Comments

Ruben, gran cantante y mejor compositor. La primera vez que lo escuche me impacto la letra de sus canciones. Orgullo Latino.
Love Ruben & LOVE this song- whoever sings this song, its a heartfelt song! Always have to think of the original person who this makes me think of & that is Hector Lavoe- que triste!
I began listening to Ruben when I lived in Panama el pais mas bella in todo el mundo in 98 and 99. The first album I bought was Tiempos and it was amazing. I have since listened and have a good collection of his music. He writes about topics that are important to him. Not only do they pertain to Panama, centro y suramerica but also to north america and all the corrupt and brutal governments around the world. I can listen to him anytime. I never get tired of his music. He has influenced how I l
Grew up listening to Ruben, hector, willie, tito and Celia. thanks to my boriqua mother. Rest in peace Mami love you & now i'm raising my son to appreciate his Puerto Rican- dominican roots.
cano-144
Uno.de mi.favorito. P a b l o . p u e b l o . b o n i t o s . r e c u e r d o
Rubén es tremendo compositor y hace periculas y las he visto, me gusta màs su humildad y la calidad de ser humano....
Escuchando tu musica Rubén es dificil negar negar .nuestras raices soy 100/00. C. A de madre nicaraguence , padre salvadoreño yo nacido en el pais mas lindo.del mundo pto. Armuelle chiriqui panama por eso me gusta tu musica
Me encantan su historias hechas canciones,me transportan al pintoresco Panamá viejo. Uno de los paises de buenos amigos y momentos inolvidables
I love his music, Ruben makes me feel proud of my Latino Heritage, and looking at Ruben's background makes believe even more in what my father used to tell me, You are as intelligent as anyone else if you study hard and have good studying habits.
Thank you Ruben, Love the movies you're in.
You go Ruben Blades panama baila salsa de la buena ecua hey.
El Poeta y conciencia del PUEBLO
Orgullosa dé ser PanáRican ...Arroz con pollo y arroz con gandules . Thank mom&dad por mis dos razas latina.
Best of 2worlds
love my latin roots! Sea de Puerto Rico o Panama! No importa! Es nuestra sangre, nuestra amor y passion se oye en nuestra musica! Love you brother! Weepa!!!
One of the best Soneros, hands down!
U go Ruben Blades, wepaaaaaa!!!
saavedrazg
Lindos recuerdos
joseebelen
One if the best "Soneros" of all time n a lawyer just in case :-)
Como me gusta tu musica Ruben!!!
Awesome :-*
Ruben mis respetos porque has puesto el nombre de panama bien alto con tus composicione s e interpretaci o n e s te mando un saludo en estas navidades del 2013 y Feliz ano Nuevo y te digo que cuando escucho Paula c me remonto de cuando yo Vivia en Los Andes #2 San Miguelito distrito especial y ya tengo 24 anos viviendo en Miami pero nunca olvido el terruno porque para mi concepto la persona que olvida en donde Abrio Los Ojos por primera vez y el lugar donde Tuvo su primer amor no tiene identidad su
gota chance a bunch of years ago to see Rubin Blades at the Lensic in Santa Fe, NM, Man he knocked my sock off, made me totally fall in love with Latin music.
I like Ruben blades for someone who here country I like it
lourdesrelye a
Ruben is a consummate storyteller. Hermosos recuerdos de mi juventud al oír su musical!!
adamstejeda_
El poeta dela salsa inigualable desde Panama
Desde la patria de Duarte tu mas fiel admirador lo recientement e en Newark NJ is amazing
chopsuey319
He is the best with his music.
Awesome!
Ruben blades.te admiro la manera en que expresas las realidades de la vida en todas tus cansiones.al igual que al trangalanga tego calderon los admiro de corazon.
Great!
tremendo cantante
One word.....Gen i u s !

Michael
dodo243857
sings about real life as it is without buttering it
Ruben es un orgullo Panameno y tuve la fortuna de conocerlo 6 anos atras, un hombre muy inteligente y de buen corazon. Lo admiro un moton. Ivonne, Panamena de Boca Raton, Florida.. Besos Ruben
Ruben es el mejor artista cantante del pueblo.me encantan sus historias cantadas.
Soy mexicano y este bato es the best en la musica salsa.buscan d o America.El Cantante de los Cantantes! Viva Ruben blades
Soy Panameña 100% y Orgullosa de Ruben Blades! La voz de los Panameños.. The Best!
What can you say about Mr Ruben Blades...LEG E N D ! ! & still making beautiful music!!
deneccl
Good
No soy panameno pero que suerte que existan hombres como Ruben Blades para que con talento puro nos haga sentir orgullosos de ser Latinos. Viva por siempre y por siempre estaremos aqui para decirle gracias por dar voz a Los que no la tienen y enfrentarse a los que en su momento nadie se atrevio.
gerardolozad a
Paname#o puro y gran hermano y represent ante de Los Latinos. En mi Venezuela lo admiramos y queremos un monton!
Every time I listened to one of his songs bring me back in time.beautif u l memories!!!! !
934799301
sin tu carino
Uno de Los mejores! <3<3<3 great Musician n actor :-D love this guy
Nobody can be compare to this exeptional musician nd songwriter!! ! Property of latino america!!!
dodo243857
go for it latin america
francia_garc i a 2 0 0 1
Soy100% panamanian, y cuando deje mi pais (Panama City, Panama) en 1977 nunca he olvidado mis raices. Ruben Blades asido una persona que admiro como cantante y como persona. Su musica asido inspiracion para todos del continente americano. Que dios te bendiga
Austin, Texas.
Memorias..tr e m e d o . . l i k e s . . l i v e it..love it..admire it..life is to short...enjo y it...with love....pati l l e n c e to the bone....from PR..to Panama..
the great poet!
THe song is wrote by the legend Tite Curet Alonso.
PUREW LEGEND
I remember Ruben, from the late sixties. I had the pledger of hearing a great deal of his music, being politics, romance or down to earth. His a uniqe person and humble. I ran into him in New York and again in Puerto Rico. If you Love Salsa, then you will fLl in Love with this Artist, no matter who he sang with or his own band. May he have a rich and blessed life. Thank you my brother for being part of my life.

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