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Biography of Issac Delgado

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Issac Delgado

Issac Delgado

Courtesy Kevin Winter /Getty Images

Born: Sept. 11, 1962

Trivia: Delgado spells his first name 'Issac' rather than 'Isaac' because at one time a promoter suggested that if it were spelled with the second 's' backwards, it would form an inspiring heart.

Issac Delgado is a legend in his own time. Probably the most famous contemporary interpretor of timba - Cuba's version of salsa - in the world, the singer has an extraordinary smooth and versatile voice, uncanny timing and the ability to make everything he does seem effortless.

But he still took a big risk coming too the U.S. in 2006 in a bid for greater artistic freedom to make his own kind of music. Timba, a more sophisticated brand of salsa, is not as popular here as less complicated salsa and his move comes at a time when salsa's popularity is seeing a downturn.

Will the risk pay off?

Early Days:

Isaac Felipe Delgado Ramirez was born in Mariano (Havana), Cuba. The middle child of three, his father was a tailor, his mother a performer at the Teatro Musical de La Habana. When he was 10 years old he started studying the violincello, but within a couple of years realized he wasn't all that interested in the instrument - in fact what he really wanted to do was to play soccer. Enrolling in a different school, he turned his skill and attention wholly to the game.

With his formal education behind him, in 1979 Delgado enrolled in the Instituto Superior de Cultura Fisica Manuel Fajardo where he strove to become licensed in sports although by that time he was already a fan of salsa. The following year he joined pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba's Grupo Proyecto; Rubalcaba came from a family of musicians and was interested in a giving the traditional Cuban music he grew up with a modern twist. The experience with Proyecto resonated with Delgado to the extent that he refocused his educational goals, enrolling in a school for professional musicians and taking additional voice lessons.

Delgado's Professional Inauguration :

Up to this point Delgado had not been performing in what could be considered a professional role. That all changed in 1983 when he joined the Orquestra de Pacho Alonso, then moved on to become the lead vocalist for Galaxia in 1987.

Delgado Becomes Vocalist For NG La Banda:

But Delgado really came into his own when he joined NG La Banda in 1988. NG La Banda was making its name with a new sound called timba at a time when Cuba was experiencing change during the tumultuous era called the 'Special Period', following the waning of Soviet influence. The band, timba and Delgado caught the public's imagination and launched Delgado to both local and international fame.

Issac Delgado Y Su Grupo:

Following these years of enormous success, Delgado launched his own group in 1991. The 90s were busy years for the singer as the group performed, won awards (an EGREM in 1992,1993 and 1995) and opened his discotheque Azucar in Cancun.

In 1995 Delgado signed with Ralph Mercado's RMM label which gave him further exposure, opportunities and growing international acclaim.

A New Life In The U.S.:

In 2006, Delgado crossed the Mexico-U.S. border to Laredo, TX. With him were his wife, Massiel Valdez, daughters Dalina and Alessia and Isaac Jr., his son by a previous marriage and a member of Delgado's band. He left behind another son and daughter and still has concerns about their fate on the island. They settled in Tampa, FL.

The move to the U.S. was spurred by a desire for more artistic freedom, although the singer has stated in numerous interviews that it was the death of his mother in 2005 that finally freed him to quietly cross that border.

Delgado then signed with Univision's La Calle Records and hooked up with salsa producer and star-maker Sergio George to collaborate on his first album from the U.S., En Primera Plana. The album title means "On the Front Page", a fitting description of the last few years of Delgado's life.

The album was nominated for numerous awards, including a Latin and regular Grammy award for 'Best Tropical Album'.

Partial Discography

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  7. Issac Delgado - Profile of Cuban Salsa Star Issac Delgado

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