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Rubén Blades

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Bio

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
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Albums by
Rubén Blades

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    16 songs

    On Air

    Salsero Original

    12 songs

    On Air

    Eba Say Ajá

    27 songs

    On Air

    Ruben Blades - Poeta Del Pueblo

    10 songs

    On Air

    De Panama a New York

    11 songs

    On Air

    Nothing But the Truth

    15 songs

    On Air

    Una Década

    14 songs

    On Air

    Mundo

    12 songs

    On Air

    Sembra Y Otros Favoritos Salsa Para Siempre

    14 songs

    On Air

    Tiempos

    16 songs

    On Air

    Rosa de los Vientos

    10 songs

    On Air

    Caminando

    8 songs

    On Air

    With Strings

    7 songs

    On Air

    El Que la Hace la Paga

    8 songs

    On Air

    Maestra Vida: Primera Parte

    7 songs

    On Air

    Maestra Vida: Segunda Parte

    7 songs

    On Air

    Doble Filo

    7 songs

    On Air

    Buscando América

    8 songs

    On Air

    Agua de Luna

    7 songs

    On Air

    Escenas

    9 songs

    On Air

    Antecedente

    1 song

    On Air

    Champions (from the Motion Picture "Hands Of Stone")

    27 songs

    On Air

    Anthology

    7 songs

    On Air

    Bohemio y Poeta

    10 songs

    On Air

    Greatest Hits [Musica Latina]

See All Albums

Top Songs by
Rubén Blades

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Pedro Navaja by Willie Colón
  3.   Decisiones
  4.   Maestra Vida
  5.   Plastico by Willie Colón
  6.   Tiburon
  7.   Camaleón
  8.   Buscando Guayaba
  9.   Mientras Duerme la Ciudad
  10.   No Hay Chance
  11.   Obalue
  12.   Hopes On Hold
  13.   Letters To the Vatican
  14.   The Calm Before the Storm
  15.   Sin Tu Cariño
  16.   Paula C
  17.   Te Estan Buscando
  18.   3. Mientras Duerme La Ciudad
  19.   Tu y Yo/We Love
  20.   Aguaceros
  21.   La Mora
  22.   Caminando
  23.   Segun el Color
  24.   Tu Hastio
  25.   Raiz de Sueños
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
Rubén Blades

    On Air

    Grandes Éxitos

    On Air

    Lou Reed: DNA

    On Air

    Tropical

    On Air

    Juan Gabriel: DNA

    On Air

    Salsa y Cumbia

    On Air

    Marketplace Music


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