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Ismael Ruiz Hernandez, commonly known as Maelo, was born October 22, 1966, in New York. Four years later he and his family relocated back to their native Puerto Rico. Always a lover of music, Maelo began his formal education at the age of 16, singing at La Escuela Libre de Musica de Caguas under the direction of Juan Pacheco. Three years later, at the age of 19, Maelo began his professional career as the lead singer for Pedro Conga y Su Orquesta Internacional. In the seven years he spent under Pedro Conga's direction, Ruiz recorded four records, including the hit "No Te Quites la Ropa," which went on to sell better than 50,000 units. Salsa favorites like "Quiero Volver," "Si Supieras," and "Me Niegas Tanto Amor" earned Ruiz gold records in Colombia and Puerto Rico, but more importantly, recognition all over the salsa-listening world. Ruiz's first release of his own, entitled Solo, spent four straight weeks at number one throughout Latin America. In 1995, the song "Rumba de Oro" earned Ruiz the title of Best Salsero in Ecuador and Peru. His second production, Experiencia, won fans in Mexico and the southwestern U.S., while his third release, entitled Maelo Ruiz, expanded his fan base further, winning the hearts of salsa lovers all over Europe. In 2003, Maelo signed with the independent label Codiscos. Ruiz has since released two records on that label, Otra Vez Maelo and Regálame una Noche. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez