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Willie Colon & 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

Comments

Mw gusta mucho
Me gusta muchooo,aleg r a el alma gracias Rubén por tu musica
Love the Music Can't Dance No More Bad Leg :(
Love this music it was the best music we back then salsa Lucas Records
Salsa is my life
Ruben el caballote, desde P.R.
DISCO CLASSIC
Rubén, P.R. Te Ama.. Brings me to the days when I was en mi Isla Caribeña jamming to him. Que viva los Rumberos y la Salsa!
One of my favorite songs....... Ruben Blades is the only one who can sing it.!
ruben a great talent in many areas
Ruben is a master of the music....the best and my favorite...
I so miss. this music. i
Can't help but love the salsa from the day when I was a youngster growing up in the big apple. We are partly a product of our environment, but we also make up our environment. This music lives in us, is part of us and we also are part of it. Beautiful. I love the whole bunch of latin muscians delivering our people's sentiment for love, life... nuestra passion por todo. Weepa!!
Love this song and him.....
Me gusta la musica Panamá me gusta los panameños
Soy puertoriquen a
Buena cancion!
nancyweissbe i n
I like Ruben Blades, que viva Panama. Along with our PR friends.
Ruben Blades has represented himself well, not only in Panama his native country, but in every Latin American circle....we l l done..! VIVA PANAMA..!!.. . . . . . . . . . A l e x
peahead0018
LOVING this song!!! Gotta buy it.
Seen the movie back in the 80s, luv the song...
Vieja pero buena
The Pedro Navaja saga, wishing I could remember the names of the songs for part 2 & 3 and in what albums.. Any takers???
Pablo Pueblo. Song that hits alot of homes.
vareces
ahora mi hijo es un fiebru de Ruben y su musica, siguiendo el ejemplo de papa. Que viva Blades




























uplifting music---make s you want to shake your booty----
La verdad es que la nueva genaracion de artistas deberian aprender de Maestros como Ruben Blades, Willie Colon, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz y otros grandes de el pasado que si tenian Sentimiento y Sabor en su ritmo. Gracias Dios por habernos dado la oportunidad de escuchar esta musica tan Buena. Saludos mis Panas>>>>>>> > > > > > > > > > > >
Todavia tengo el LP original Siembra cuidadito como si lo hubiera comprado ayer aunque lo compre 34 años atras. Wow! Parece que fue ayer. Lo ponia todo los dias cuando llegaba de la escuela y mis viejos ya lo querian botar por la ventana jajaja!
I discovered him while in college. I've loved his and Wiillie Colon's music ever since. Que viva La Salsa
Pedro Navaja ~ my all-time favorite dance and lyrical song by Ruben Blades, R.I.P. papi! ❤
genesilvers_ 1
great talent and music for the ages
Lo mejor Rubén baldes uno de mis artistas faborito 10 !!!!!
atavarez1995
Me encantan las salsa de willie colon. ;)
Thank you God for the genius of Willie Colon and Ruben Blades. Pure genius!
That's the way I like it......Mi Musica!
Good stuff , buenisimo !!
Remember the M & M CLUB, 14th St., New York City !!!
NOW that's music
jojo10411
Pedro Navaja - I remeber everyone in my hood wanting to be a gangster dressed just like the song discribes him...always been a fan of Ruben Blades.
No hay nada mejor... me recuerda a mis pabre siempre :-)
this were them good old days...
i miss this kind of music this is music you can feel on your feet and hips and in your soul.
La salsa de los 80' la mejor.
melvinmartin e z 2 2 5
lo maximo en salsa en el mundo
Soy Boricua, y fanatica de Ruben Blades. Un hombre muy inteligente y con mucho talento.
thank u for your misic mr.blades--- p l e a s e keep it coming----ag a i n thank u-------mr.b r o o k l y n bob
paulda9
Not only can he sing but he is also good looking...
EL MEJOR CANTAUTOR DE SU GENERO EN CUATRO DECADAS
valeriorafae l 5 8 8
he' is agreat artist,music i a n ! ! ! . alway the best,salsa con clase,, que tiempo..
Soy Boricua y definitivame n t e este es mi cantante favorito
Soy panameno, naci en Panama, conoci a Ruben Blades y mas cuando Willi Colon vino a Panama y Ruben Blades regreso con el, y Ruben Blades saco el disco de Pedro Navaja, todos los panameno nos sentia orgulloso de el, y despues saco alome la maleta que yo me voy. He visto a Ruben Blades en muchas peliculas. y cada vez que veo a Ruben Blades, me siento orgulloso de ser panameno. Que viva Ruben Blades.
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