Biographies of All Musicians

New York City
Latin Jazz, Mambo
Graciela Perez Grillo, known as simply Graciela, was born in Havana, Cuba in 1915 and grew up in Jesús María, an Afro-Cuban neighborhood. She began singing from a young age at the encouragement of her adoptive older...
New York City
Salsa
Héctor Juan Pérez Martínez was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. At the age of 17 he moved to New York and aspired to be a singer, finally getting a break in 1967 when he was invited to sing with the band of...
Los Angeles
Chicano Rock
In 1962 while watching a bullfight in Tijuana, Mexico, Jewish trumpeter and A&M Records co-founder Herb Alpert was inspired to capture the excitement and mariachi horn section he experienced at the bullring. Adapting a song...
Miami
Latin Jazz, Mambo, Miami Music Scene
Israel “Cachao” López was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1918, in a family of musicians.  At the age of nine he began playing bass professionally, accompanying silent movies at a local theater.  He received...
New York City
Reggaetón
Martha Ivelisse Pesante was born in Puerto Rico, but raised in New York. At the age of 18 she returned to the island and immersed herself in the underground music scene. Taking the stage name Ivy Queen, she recorded her first...
San Francisco
Protest & Political
Joan Baez was born of Mexican, English, and Scottish heritage in Staten Island, New York, in 1941. Because her father was a physicist, her family moved often during her childhood, living in various places around the United...
New York City
Boogaloo
The son of a Filipino mother and African American father, Latin soul pioneer Joe Bataan grew up among Puerto Ricans in East Harlem, New York. Running with a street gang called the Dragons, he was arrested for auto theft and did...
New York City
Boogaloo, Latin Soul, Mambo
Gilberto Miguel Calderón was born to Puerto Rican parents in Spanish Harlem and as a teenager he performed as a percussionist in several bands. He had given up music to study law in college when a chance encounter...
New York City
Boogaloo, Cha Cha Cha, Salsa
Composer, arranger, bandleader, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, Johnny Pacheco was born in 1935 in Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic.  His father, Rafael Azarías Pacheco, was the clarinetist...
New York City
Boogaloo, Cha Cha Cha, Salsa
Jose Feliciano was born in 1945 in Lares, Puerto Rico, and moved to New York with his family when he was five years old.  Blind from birth, he showed an early passion for music, and taught himself to play the accordion when...
Miami, New York City
Merengue, Protest & Political
Juan Luis Guerra was born in 1956 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.  He studied philosophy and literature at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, but then turned to music studies, first at El Conservatorio...
New York City
Mambo
Guadalupe Victoria Yolí Raymond was born in the eastern city of Santiago, Cuba, and moved to Havana in the 1950s to earn a teaching degree. Instead of becoming a teacher, though, she married and formed a trio with her...