Headshot for Ruben Blades

Ruben Blades

Rubén Blades has been a distinguished singer, composer, actor, and political figure.

He didn’t enter the world of music by accident: he was born and raised in the perfect environment for his future musical training. His Cuban mother, Anoland Bellido de Luna, played the piano, and his Panamanian father, Rubén Blades, played percussion. Under their musical influence, he cultivated his innate talent, alternating between law and political science at the National University of Panama. Never once did he lose his love of music, performing at local venues around the city.

In 1968, he traveled to New York, where he was invited to record an album with the Pete Rodríguez Orchestra. This opportunity allowed him to make important contacts in the music world.

He returned to Panama to finish his studies and graduate, independent of his career. For him, music was an immediate goal.

He returned to New York, and fate led him to a job in the mail room of Fania Records. Direct contact with the musical talent on the label gave him a new opportunity when Ray Barretto needed a substitute for his lead singer, who had left the band. He found the talent he was looking for in Rubén Blades, who in turn took an important step in his musical career.

Another opportunity presented itself when Héctor Lavoe left his position as lead vocalist for the Willie Colón Orchestra. Rubén Blades took the spot, beginning a glorious career with an uninterrupted series of enormous hits.