Rubén Blades is a New York Panamanian Salsa legend who wrote many Salsa classics (“El Cantante” and “Pedro Navaja”), was a Fania All-Star and continues doing Grammy winning work.
Our favorite Blades song is “Patría” in which he describes “homeland” to a child who has never been there. We love his work with Oscar Hernández and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. It’s some of the best Salsa dance music ever recorded.
Rubén Blades brings his SalSwing Tour! with the Roberto Delgado Orquesta and special guest Luba Mason (his talented wife) to the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on Thu, Dec 2 at 8:30pm. From $59. msg.com
A Panamanian Son Who Shines Everywhere
Blades was born in Panama City, Panama on July 16, 1948. He trained as a lawyer, but didn’t want to practice law in what was then a dictatorship.
He is a very smart guy. In the states, Blades earned a Masters in International Law from Harvard University.
This is a man who loves the whole world. While singing he often calls out centers of Salsa and drum culture in Regla, Cuba; Llorens, Santurce, Puerto Rico; Loíza Aldea, Puerto Rico; La Perla, Puerto Rico; Lima, Peru and others.
Rubén Blades in New York City
When he came to New York, Blades started working with Willie Colon. They made history together. Héctor Lavoe’s “El Cantante” is one of the most popular Salsa songs of all time. Rubén wrote it. Back in the day, he was disappointed that Fania gave it to Lavoe, but it all worked out.
Today, Blades is one of the padrinos of Latin music in New York City. Younger musicians look up to him for guidance. Residente of Calle 13 is close. When Tite Curet Alonso, the Salsa poet who wrote many of the Fania hits was alive, Blades was his champion. He is not only talented, Rubén really cares about his community.
Blades still tours all over the world and keeps winning Grammys with new work. In 2021, he had nine Grammys and ten Latin Grammys. Salswing! won the 2021 Latin Grammy for Album of the Year. He was also the Latin Recording Academy’s Person of the Year for 2021.
Surprisingly for a star at his level, Blades rides the New York subways and is kind with the public. He really is someone special.