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Willie Colón: 1950—: Salsa Performer, Producer, Composer, Activist Biography - Switched To Trombone, Broadened Topics Of Salsa Lyrics, Entered Politics

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Willie Colón: 1950—: Salsa performer, producer, composer, activist.




Willie Colón was one of the founders of the jazz-inflected Latin American dance music known as salsa. In the words of the Los Angeles Times, he was "the unifier, the alche-mist, [and] the enabler" of the rhythmic salsa style. An unusually multitalented musician, Colón became a star himself and succeeded in bringing other musicians together to create new sounds. Colón is noted among historians and loved by audiences for his contributions as a trombonist, bandleader, producer, vocalist, composer, lyricist, and arranger on more than 40 top-selling salsa albums. Always a musician who tried to combine social commentary with danceable entertainment, in the 1990s and early 2000s, Colón became more and more involved with community issues in New York City, and ran for political office several times.

William Anthony Colón Román was born on April 28, 1950, in the New York City borough of the Bronx. His parents had come to New York from Puerto Rico. Colón was partially raised by his grandmother, who had performed music in the rural Puerto Rican jibaro style, and who gave him a trumpet and a paid-up time slot with a music teacher when he was 12. Before long Colón had organized a band that played at dances and local social functions. His classical training won him a spot in the New York Youth Symphony and would contribute to the striking versatility Colón showed later in his career.


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