King of salsa romantica: Genre needs edgier push

I’m old enough to remember when the whole “Salsa Romantica” movement, a much better term than calling it a genre, began with his smash hit “Lluvia” and other artists like Lalo Rodriguez with his song “Devorame Otra Vez” and so on.

Salsa definitely went through a big change in the 80’s and it seemed like Salsa romantica was all you would hear on the radio. It was like a craze that took over the music scene and the airwaves but fortunately it didn’t have lasting power and it did eventually die out in popularity.

The reason for that?

I think it was because the music did not have the swing, the artistry and musicianship that are the trademark of real Salsa, all the things that have made and always will make the music so great and popular with masses of people.

Despite not being a fan of Salsa romantica, I must say that I’ve always liked Eddie Santiago as a singer but hopefully that music will not make any kind of comeback and just stay in the past, where it belongs.

King of salsa romantica: Genre needs edgier push

March 7, 2008

Eddie Santiago’s first album was revolutionary for creating a new genre of salsa music — romantica, or sensual salsa ballad.

Twenty-two years later, Santiago rightfully has earned the title, king of salsa romantica.

His career has been a blessing, the 52-year-old said in a recent phone interview from Miami, Fla.

“It is not easy for a career of this type, because there are so many artists,” he said in Spanish. “The public, for so many years, has been content to love me and support me. It is a blessing to me. There are no words to describe it.”

Santiago’s fans will get a thrill when he performs at Tequilas Mexican Restaurant in South Elgin later this month.

“Eddie Santiago has been around for a long time and has a great following,” said J.R. Molin, owner of Tequilas. “It is a privilege for us to have him come to South Elgin.”

No one else had done the salsa romantica when Santiago’s first CD came out.

“He is the icon of salsa romantica,” Molin said.

Santiago’s appearance is generating lots of excitement.

“We are getting calls asking, ‘Where is South Elgin?'” Molin said.

Santiago’s first album was released in 1986 at a time when salsa music was on a downturn.

“My music began like an experiment, because my form of singing was different than traditional salsa. They were topics of romance, ballads,” he said. “The salsa was soft, easy and about romance, which is universal. That is what the people liked, and it went to other countries and new audiences.”

The public was waiting for something new and that’s why his music exploded, Santiago said.

He thinks the salsa of today needs a revolution. While it remains popular, younger artists are not recording salsa music and instead are choosing reggaeton, a blend of Jamaican dancehall influences with Latin America beats. Santiago enjoys reggaeton, which he said was new and different, but he said he feels salsa needs that kind of edginess to get it revved up.

“Salsa needs someone new, in particular, the youth,” he said. “The problem is, the youth don’t identify themselves with salsa. We need young people in the salsa music.

Because Santiago had such originality, he has been forever identified with salsa romantica.

His MySpace page has tributes to him with fans professing their love, admiration and support. Many times, fans want to hear his classic songs, and it never bothers him to sing those favorites.

“I sing it with love. It is like the love you have for a child,” he said. “You may be tired of singing, but the public has a desire to hear it and you sing it with pleasure.”

Santiago says he will start work on his new album in the next month or two.

He just finished a three-week tour that included Mexico and Ecuador, so he has not been able to do any writing. But he is looking forward to getting into the studio, said Santiago, whose 2-year-old daughter, Samantha, could be heard in the background during the phone call. His wife is pregnant with their second child, and he has three teenage children from his first marriage.

This will be Santiago’s second visit to the Fox Valley. He performed during the 2007 BoriquaFest in downtown Elgin.

“We love it there. They must love us, because they want us back,” Santiago said of the Fox Valley. “The people were so great.”

During his visit, he was able to go to a Chicago White Sox game.

“I realized one of my dreams when I walked onto the field,” he said. “It has been my greatest frustration. I always wanted to be a professional baseball player. It was my dream, but I couldn’t. But, well, I went to Chicago and I stepped on the ground and I thought, ‘Wow, what I wouldn’t do to be a baseball player.'”

He had his picture taken with several players and manager Ozzie Guillen.

Santiago, though, is grateful for his current career.

“I have had good luck to be a singer,” he said, “and be a singer for so many years.”


One Response to King of salsa romantica: Genre needs edgier push

  1. rocio says:


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