Essay on Biography of Ruben Blades

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Carnegie Mellon University
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Research paper
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Known by his full name as Ruben Dario Blades Jr., he established himself as a great musician to reckon with, his style of music is still inspiring and above all more entertaining. Ruben was Panama born musician, actor, and political activist with a lot of success regarding his music career (Broughton, 2000). He was one of the most influential salsa musicians who created a name in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He was born in a lineage, which was inclined musically where his Colombian father became a police detective and later took a role in bongo player. Blades mother was a Cuban- born and was a professional actor on radio soap operas. In his formative years, Blades played the guitar and sang the North American rock and roll. In his advent as a musician in the making, he composed and performed political songs with protest as the central theme (Broughton, 2000). In 1972, Blades graduated with a law degree from the University of Panama. Immediately after his education completion in 1972, Rubens family was sent into an exile because his father who was a former member of the secret police conflicted with Manuel Noriega who was then the military intelligence officer. They settled in New York City where Ruben sang and composed songs as a member of the Willie Colon combo. In 1982, he parted ways with Colon to form a new group Seis del Solar (Broughton, 2000). This band later incorporated rock and jazz elements when the vibraphones were replacing the traditional trumpets and the trombones. With his band, he recorded Buscando America which future at the top ten album of the year 1984. Amidst his growing popularity, he took a break from his musical career and embarked on his Masters degree in 1985 in the line of international law from Harvard University.

In 1987, Ruben won a Grammy award with his album Escenas enjoined with Linda Ronstadt as they produced the Spanish duet. He went ahead to release an English language album the following year called nothing but the truth. The song was co-written by Elvis Costello and Lou Reed with the son thematic issues centralizing on social matters such as the Iran-Contra Affair and the AIDS crisis. Due to his activism and success, Ruben became known as the Latin Bruce Springsteen (Broughton, 2000). Apart from being a successful musician, Ruben doubled up as a great film actor. One of the first roles he took up was in the movie the last fight in 1983. In the movie, he starred alongside the former band mate Willie Colon. Crossover Dreams in 1985 where crew received insurmountable praise from the mass, particularly blades performances in the film-captured attention on his caste immediately followed this film (Cruz, 1997). Additionally, his popularity grew and kept on soaring until he became a Hollywood actor. Among the works of Hollywood he featured is The Devils Own, the Cradle Will Rock, and the Milagros Beanfield War. Nonetheless, his activism work did not stop as he went on to champion for human rights issues.

In 1994, blades made a return to his country Panama with an ambition to run for the presidency. As a populist candidate of the Papa Ergo, the party that he formed in one of his brief return to Panama in 1991, he campaigned using the songs and guitar to attract the support of the people who were choked with the vice of corruption (Cruz, 1997). His campaigns however suffered under finance and although he was an attractive candidate, some section of citizens thought his extended absence from in the country created come dent and left him out of touch with a part of citizens. The election was highly contested, and he became the third winning 17 percent of the votes (Cruz, 1997). Although Ruben was defeated in the elections, his popularity did not wane. He continued to record alongside acting after which he appeared in films such as once upon a time in Mexico. One of the albums Tiempo which was done in 1999 contained critical commentaries of corruption within the government and poverty in Latin America and his different musical Mundo done in 2002 paved his way of scooping another Grammy award.

In 2004, president Martin Torrijos, assuming the position of a cabinet minister, appointed Ruben Blades in the Panama government. As much as Ruben devoted himself to the position he was appointed to, he did not overlook his musical career, and he was still involved with music. At one time, he was a guest of the vocalist on Spain Harlem orchestra and was honored by the composers society of America in 2005, which branded him with a lifetime achievement to the musical career (Pimentel & University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2014). After he had finished his political appointment, Ruben released Cantares Del Subdessarollo an acoustic album that pays tribute to the Cuban culture and music. He collaborated again with Seis De Solar where they composed a two-volume concert record. His later film included for greater glory, safe house all of which he portrayed Plutarco Elias (Pimentel & University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2014). The succeeding year of Ruben witnessed a lot of film work, he performed several concerts with Roberto Delgado Orchestra in the Europe, Latin America, and the United States once again, and one of his tangos emerged the best winning him both a Germany and a Latin Grammy award.


Broughton, S. (2000). Latin and North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific. London: Rough Guide.

Cruz, B. (1997). Ruben Blades: Salsa singer and social activist. Springfield, NJ: Enslow Publishers.

Pimentel, O. J. N., & University of North Carolina at Charlotte. (2014). Latin Americanism in the music of Ruben Blades and Calle 13.

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