What do you get when you listen to Joe Cuba's Latin Music? You get a nostalgic, toe tapping stype of music. This music also includes some of the first Latin melodies with English lyrics.
Some of Joe Cuba's greatest hits are listed in the Music Catalog, from his Discography.
I Tried to Dance All Night
The Best of Joe Cuba
Steppin' Out Again
You can find the full list of The Joe Cuba Sextet Discography, in The Life and Times of the Legendary Joe Cuba.
Joe Cuba touched the soul of millions with his style of Latin music.
Discover his music, which never gets old..
The transformation of a legendary personality is usually molded by the influences of the environment, and by the extra ordinary achievements of a lifetime. Likewise, the spirit and makeup of a person is also developed by the social and cultural conditions, such as in the story we are about to embark.
The Legendary Joe Cuba was born as Gilberto Navarro, on April 22, 1931, at the Lying-in Hospital in Manhattan. Gilberto was the son of Gloria Cardona and Joaquin Navarro. He also had an older brother, Jack Navarro, who was born in Manhattan on February 2, 1930. By the time Gilberto was only a year and eleven months, his father left their home. During that era, people were trying to survive the Great Depression. Overwhelmed by her situation, his mother Gloria was forced to put her children in the Foundling Home, on 175 East 68th Street, until she could find work. However, during the time of their separation, Gloria never abandoned her boys. Frequently she visited her boys at the Foundling Home.
Meanwhile in Brooklyn, the Liottas, an Italian family was struggling to survive, and decided to join a government-sponsored program that paid families to take-in Foundling Home children. Early in September of 1930, the Liottas bought a house on 208 Beach Avenue, Staten Island. By 1932, they were ready to bring into their home the Foundling Home children. The first to enter their home were the Navarro boys. While living with the Liottas, Gilberto was nicknamed Sonny. Although they were living with the Liottas, Sonny’s natural mother also visited them often. Gloria had a strong bond with her sons and was determined to get them back. At the age of 5 Sonny and his brother were returned to their mother. Their mother had married a man called Miguel Calderon and settled in Spanish Harlem. To the boys delight their stepfather turned out to be a great man.
In one of the Joe Cuba's songs, he describes his home in Spanish Harlem:
Do you feel it?
Yes I feel it. I feel my beloved Barrio, my ghetto.
This is the story where I was born.
No man's land, between 115th Street and 125th.
Everybody today is talking about "El Barrio,"
Or the ghetto, about the hard times they had.
We had hard times, but we had good times too.
I can remember the summer.
The summer time was beautiful, the days were long.
We did not need any ocean breeze.
To the left we had the Hudson River. To the right we had the East River.
When we wanted to refresh ourselves,
who needed the ocean, we had the pump.
All we needed was a good, good screwdriver and a can,
and we were refreshed.
At night the breeze was beautiful.
Tar beach, that was our meeting place.
And we had, we had fun galore.
When I went home, my mother was beautiful.
Our food was really together.
Rice and beans, that’s our soul food,
With a little Cuchifritos on the side.
And for a little desert we had Mavi,
The grooviest tasting drink you’ll want to try.
Everything was beautiful.
My “querido,” my beautiful Barrio, my ghetto.
Grateful acknowledgment is extended to the late Joe Cuba for his assistance, patience and guidance in the compilation of this authorized biography. It was inspiring to see the story of one of the world's great Latin musicians come to life, before the eyes of the Legendary Joe Cuba himself. He also gave me the privilege to obtain photographs from his private collection.
In addition, I would like express my gratitude to Jack Calderon, Lisa Levine, Marie Liotta, Mitchell Calderon, Nina Popik Calderon, Haydee Calderon, Michael Calderon and Marlene Calderon, for contributing family related stories and photographs. Joe Cuba also acknowledged Maria Teresa Fernández (Mariposa) for dedicating to him the inspiring poem, “Ode To The DiaspoRican.” Her poem symbolizes the true feelings and sentiments of Puertoricans born in the United States.
An extended appreciation is given to the following individuals and organization for providing me with their descriptive views on this project: Ralph Paniagua Jr.: Viva Magazine Vicente Barreiro: The Casa Latina Music Shop Efraín Suáres: The International Salsa Museum Joe Hernandez: The International Latin Music Hall of Fame Lloyd Williams: The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce.
Finally, gratitude is extended to the following individuals who provided us with many of the wonderful stories of Joe Cuba’s extraordinary life: Joe Gaines, Max Salazar, Jackie Thorne, Lloyd Williams, Larry Birnbaum, Alberta Riviera, Richie Bonilla, Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros, Pete Russian, Anthony Roach, Ralph Garay, Jr., Henry Medina, Harvey Averne, Pedro Aguilar, Willie Medina, Leona & J.T. Carter and Charlie B. Rangel.Their narrative versions of Joe Cuba's life made this an unforgettable story.
By: Antonio I. Mejias
PURCHASE THE BIOGRAPHY OF A PIONEER OF SALSA, BOOGALO & RAP MUSIC.
PURCHASE THE BIOGRAPHY OF THE PIONEER OF SALSA, BOOGALO & RAP.
Legendary Latin Musicians
Enjoy Mejias' other works, including the compellingHector Lavoe biographyentitled: The Singer, Hector Lavoe.
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