Willy Chirino [1947 - ]
Willy Chirino, one of the architects of the “Miami Sound,” fused salsa, rock and pop to create songs that resonated with an international audience.
Growing up in the small town of Consolación del Sur, Cuba, Chirino was an unlikely musician. The son of a doctor and a pharmacist who were not musical, Chirino became entranced by the bands that performed at one of the town’s religious parties and decided to become a musician.
In 1961, two years after the Cuban Revolution that saw Fidel Castro overthrow Fulgencio Batista, Chirino’s parents sent the 14-year-old Chirino to Miami as one of more than 14,000 children who left Cuba in exile between 1960-1962 as part of Operation Peter Pan (aka Operación Pedro Pan). Organized by the U.S. government and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami, the operation was organized to transport the children of Cuban parents who opposed Castro’s government to the United States.
In Miami, where The Beatles had performed on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, Chirino dreamed of becoming a member of the Fab Four and pursued a music career. He became an integral part of the city's salsa scene, first as a bass player and multi-instrumentalist, then later as a vocalist and composer.
In 1974 he released his first album, One Man Alone. He has since released more than 25 albums, including Son del Alma in 2006, which won a Grammy for Best Salsa/Merengue Album. Among his catalog of more than 100 songs is Soy, which has been recorded by more than 60 artists.