MEXICO CITY: Sometimes one may wonder what would happen if Rubén Blades was the President of Panama. would that be good? hatred? Was it better that he didn’t?
I think it would have been good for the country, Blades said Thursday in a video call interview a few hours before the Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas. It turned into a big night for Blades, being honored as Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year and winning Album of the Year for Salvaging! and Best Salsa Album for Salsa Plus!, with both Roberto Delgado and Orquesta.
People say that power corrupts. I do not think so. I believe power exposes, he said. If you don’t sell yourself they don’t buy you. … Public service to me is more valuable than a Grammy or all the Grammys I earn or whatever they give me. There is nothing better than serving your country and your people, period.
What has happened since his unsuccessful run for the presidency in 1994 is that he remained faithful to music and acting. (His fans are still eager to see him as Daniel Salazar in the Fear the Walking Dead series.) And he held a public service position as tourism minister from 2004 to 2009, without any corruption or nepotism. Without the scandals that often plague. Latin American politician. In fact, as seen in the 2018 documentary Reuben Blades Is Not My Name, “he can still walk the streets of Panama and be greeted by people.”
After being fascinated by the music of Frankie Limon and The Teenagers in the movie Rock Rock! When he was about 10 years old, Blades entered music in the ’70s through a very backdoor, but never left.
Although, unlike people who don’t know what they’re talking about, I didn’t leave Panama for the purpose of being a musician, I left Panama because I wasn’t going to be a lawyer in a dictatorship, Blades said, whose parents had left the country before him because of a problem with the military leader Manuel Noriega. When I moved to Florida to be with my family, there were a lot of difficulties and I couldn’t help it because my law degree didn’t work in Florida. So I called FANIA, the biggest salsa recording company.
FANIA’s Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz recorded Bladess Guagunc Triste in 1971 and were hoping to hire him as a songwriter or musician. The only place he had available was as the person in charge of the label mail room.
I started in the FANIA mail room and Ray Barreto found me there… Somebody told him, ‘The guy who corresponds at FANIA, the guy who sings and writes the song, Blades’ remembered. Barreto went to see me and I auditioned and he put me in the orchestra with Tito Gamez, may he live in peace, and that’s how I started in 1974 in New York.
Buscando Guayaba, Pedro Navaja, Plstico, Prohibido Olvidar, Buscando Amrica and Desapariciones are some of the songs by the former mail clerk of FANIA, who has two trophies since Thursday, now has 10 Latin Grammys and nine Grammy Awards.
As long as I can sing and give the public the quality I demand of myself and what they are used to getting from me, I will keep working. But the moment I feel there is no voice or temperament, enthusiasm, the same day I would stop smoking, just as I had stopped smoking, he said. Music will never leave me because music is something that helps you spiritually, it also helps you therapeutically and puts you in communication with the best in the universe.
On Wednesday, Blades was celebrated in a traditional Person of the Year benefit concert by dozens of artists, including Anders Calamaro, Vicentico, Flor de Toloche, Diego Torres, Farruco and Joaquín Sabina, who performed covers of their songs.
He said that the fact that he (Sabina) came from Spain to share this moment with me makes me very special. I told him, you could have done it through Zoom. It shocked me and I appreciate it so much, I admire it so much.
I was also surprised by Christina Aguilera. I didn’t even know she knew me, he said of the American singer, who performed camelón with a similar arrangement to the Ecuadorian pasillo.
The 73-year-old star insists that music and acting always require teamwork. His on-screen peers through his more than 50 film and television credits include Harrison Ford, Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Danny Glover, Robert De Niro.
I learn a lot from my coworkers, Blades said. I really like working and learning from other people.
However, he regretted that there are not many Latino figures in film and television in the United States.
Despite the fact that we are the minority group with the largest number of people and despite our contributions that greatly help GDP and the culture of the United States, he said. So there is something in the presence of a Latino that seems necessary to represent all the contributions we make.
A third continuation in Blades’ life has been his quest for social justice, from fighting to hunger and poverty, to support for migrants and HIV patients.
Blades said fame provides a platform and opportunity to express opinions that are going to have an impact and should have a positive impact on our society. It is positive that an artist speaks in a responsible and informed manner on issues that might not otherwise attract attention.