Willie Colon Eager To Show The Bronx He Can Still Serve Up Salsa
He may have started out on the music scene nearly 50 years ago, but salsa star Willie Colon continues to be a legend among fans and fellow musicians today, and now he is preparing for a special concert in the Bronx Saturday night for the hometown crowd. NY1's Arts reporter Stephanie Simon filed the following report.
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Willie Colon helped create the New York salsa sound. He grew up in the South Bronx in the 1950s playing the trumpet and later the trombone and eventually singing.
Today, he regularly plays to crowds of 100,000 or more abroad, but back home, it's different.
"The whole salsa scene in New York has changed so much that there's not lot of venues left where you can really bring a big band," says Colon. "Music has changed, so it's hard to find a situation where I can come and do my thing."
For the first time in more than a decade, Colon is playing at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts in the Bronx.
"I just did the Plaza in Madrid, Spain. We had about 110,000 people there and I'll come back to the Bronx and they'll say, 'Hey, are you still working?" says Colon. "So that's why I am happy to come back to Lehman, to be accessible and show the kids what I'm doing."
Colon has been called "El Malo del Bronx," or "The Bad Kid From The Bronx," for his tough demeanor. But he's always been passionate about what he believes. He's been an activist over the years and even ran for office.
He's well-known for his collaborations with Ruben Blades and the late greats Celia Cruz and Hector Lavoe. In fact, Colon consulted on and was portrayed in the 2006 Lavoe biopic "El Cantante" starring Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.
But despite selling more than 30 millon records worldwide, Colon laments that many young music lovers who know Marc Anthony do not know who he is. Hopefully that changes.
Still, at least Colon always knows who he is.
"No matter where I am, I'm a Bronx boy," says Colon.
Willie Colon plays the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, August 18.
Saturday August 18, 2012
Lehman Center for the Performing Arts
Tickets: $30, $40, $50