Salsa has been one of the most male-dominated sectors of Latin music since its inception, yet women have always had important roles interpreting tropical dance music. In Cuba, all-female dance orchestras such as El Septeto Anacaona in the 1940s to 1960s were not only popular but also served as career catalysts for regal singers like Omara Portuondo. In New York and Puerto Rico, Myrta Silva was prominent, not only for her prodigious talents as a vocalist, but also in her role as a composer, producer, mentor and independent woman. Graciela achieved fame during the mambo era in New York, being an essential part of her brother Machito’s Afro-Cubans and helping to usher in the sexual revolution with her risqué songs. La Lupe was known as the most outrageous ‘bad girl’ in New York, yet, over the decades, it was the First Lady Salsa, the inimitable Celia Cruz who dominated the world of salsa divas.
Since she passed away in 2001, her shoes have been very hard to fill, but this collection aims to shed some light on some of the current crop of contenders to her throne, as well as some of her contemporaries from the 1970s. The Puerto Rican sonera Choco Orta is recognized today for not only her vocal talents, but also her accomplishments as a percussionist, dancer and actress. Her classic big-band mambo from a few years earlier recounts how her mentor, Tito Puente has crowned Choco the new ‘Queen of Flavour’ and she pays tribute to ‘el maestro’. Joined by the Budda Allstars, the critically underrated Afro-Boricua vocalist Yolanda Rivera sings of street-corner rumba drummers as the basis for the guaguancó rhythm often found at the heart of salsa. You will encounter fiery, well-seasoned veterans with a contemporary voice, as well as an introduction to some inspiring young talent worth watching.
The bonus disc brings you ‘La Japonesa Salsera’, Yoko Mimata, who is making waves with her blistering brand of salsa dura. A native of Osaka but living and performing in New York, Yoko sings salsa with authenticity, power and joy. Her commanding presence, combined with smoking arrangements and masterful playing by some of the most talented musicians in the genre make this album a true scorcher.