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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
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

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Viva la izquierda
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sexxy_bunny8 6
Soy cubanita y goso sus canciones desde las Vegas
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Camaleon
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eeortiz1122
Pedro navaja
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kikovazquez2 9
This is what u call a real singer old school too the fullest !! P.R
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The best mi Pana
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Bandada
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Thorough Bred.
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The first time that I was introduced to Ruben Blades was at the Club de Yates y Pesca in Panama while he was singing with The Salvaje del Ritmo. I wlll never forget that day in Panama that I was captivated by the effortless and melodios way he brought the music to life and he continue to do the same today as yesterday. God Bless You My Panamania Brother
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baltodanorog e r
La vida es asi
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Amor Y Control listen to this song real good!!!!!!
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toledoj07
The later Julio collazo and him were budies
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cano-144
Buenos.recue r d o . d e . l o s 70
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Salsa is my Life
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Ruben, gran cantante y mejor compositor. La primera vez que lo escuche me impacto la letra de sus canciones. Orgullo Latino.
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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!
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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
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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.
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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
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Me encanta....
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Rubén es tremendo compositor y hace periculas y las he visto, me gusta màs su humildad y la calidad de ser humano....
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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
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Me encantan su historias hechas canciones,me transportan al pintoresco Panamá viejo. Uno de los paises de buenos amigos y momentos inolvidables
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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.
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You go Ruben Blades panama baila salsa de la buena ecua hey.
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El Poeta y conciencia del PUEBLO
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Orgullosa dé ser PanáRican ...Arroz con pollo y arroz con gandules . Thank mom&dad por mis dos razas latina.
Best of 2worlds
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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!!!
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One of the best Soneros, hands down!
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U go Ruben Blades, wepaaaaaa!!!
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saavedrazg
Lindos recuerdos
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joseebelen
One if the best "Soneros" of all time n a lawyer just in case :-)
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Como me gusta tu musica Ruben!!!
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Awesome :-*
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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
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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.
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I like Ruben blades for someone who here country I like it
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lourdesrelye a
Ruben is a consummate storyteller. Hermosos recuerdos de mi juventud al oír su musical!!
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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
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He is the best with his music.
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Awesome!
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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.
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Great!
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tremendo cantante
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One word.....Gen i u s !

Michael
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dodo243857
sings about real life as it is without buttering it
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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
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Ruben es el mejor artista cantante del pueblo.me encantan sus historias cantadas.
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Soy mexicano y este bato es the best en la musica salsa.buscan d o America.El Cantante de los Cantantes! Viva Ruben blades
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Soy Panameña 100% y Orgullosa de Ruben Blades! La voz de los Panameños.. The Best!
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