In all of the interviews with Victor Manuelle that I've read, one thing seems clear. Even with his Hollywood-like discovery, awards and accolades, Manuelle is still down-to-earth and real. He only sings in Spanish, he hasn't tried to cross over to pop. Whether as a performer or as a songwriter, his love is for the music. And, with his smooth tenor and infectious compositions, he makes sure we join him in that passion.
Victor Manuel Ruiz was born Sept. 27th in New York, NY. (Different sources claim the year was 1965, 1968 or 1970.) Soon afterwards, his family moved to Puerto Rico and he was raised in Anasco and Isabela. He loved salsa and while never performing seriously, he would sing with friends and school groups.
Gilberto Santa Rosa Meets Victor Manuelle:
One of the unusual things about Victor Manuelle was the manner in which he was 'discovered.' The often cited story tells of Manuelle's high school graduation at which the feature performer was Gilberto Santa Rosa.
Manuelle recounts that Santa Rosa, after hearing about the salsa-crazy senior from fellow grads, asked him to come up on stage and perform with him. Expecting him to sing the lyrics to well-known songs as recorded, Santa Rosa was surprised to find Manuelle trading 'soneos' with him - that is, improvising lyrics on the fly.
Santa Rosa took his number that night but Manuelle was surprised when he actually called three days later. That call led to Manuelle's start in music as a back-up singer to a group led by Don Perignon.
'Justo A Tiempo' - Manuelle's Debut Album:
Three years later, in 1993, Manuelle signed with Sony Discos and released his first solo album, Justo A Tiempo. Produced by Santa Rosa, the album didn't make a big splash in the salsa music world although it spawned a couple of singles that met with some success.
Just A Tiempo was followed by Solo Contigo and the track "Apiadate A Mi' went on to take the #3 slot on the Latin Tropical Airplay chart.
Hitting The Big Time With 'Victor Manuelle':
The album that finally put Manuelle squarely on the charts was his self-titled Victor Manuelle in 1996. Produced by the notable New York hitmaker Sergio George, the albun spun-off six chart-making hits and firmly entrenched the singer as a force in the field of salsa romantica.
In recent years, Victor Manuelle has become one of the most successful salsa artists in the world. His 2001 album Instinto Y Deseo, 2004 Travesia and 2006 Decision Unanime have all reached #1 on the Latin album charts.
Decision Unanime also brough Manuelle critical acclaim, earning him a 2007 Billboard award for 'Tropical Album of the Year' and 'Tropical Artist of the Year' at that year's Premio Lo Nuestro awards.
His latest album, Soy was released in June, 2008.
Manuelle As A Songwriter:
Besides his success as a performer, Manuelle is also a prolific songwriter. Today most of the songs he performs are his own.
In 2005, Manuelle was named 'Songwriter of the Year' at the ASCAP Latin Music Awards. (ASCAP is the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers). In 2008, he received ASCAP's 'Golden Note Award' for innovative and enduring contributions to Latin music, both as a songwriter and as an artist.
Victor Manuelle is divorced and has two daughters and a son.