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Ruben Blades – Biography and Artist Profile


Photo Courtesy Gustavo Caballero / Getty Images

Ruben Blades

Photo Courtesy Gustavo Caballero / Getty Images

Ruben Blades is one of the most influential Salsa singers in history. That, however, is not the best thing about this Panamanian artist. Thanks to his powerful lyrics, Ruben Blades has become the absolute intellectual of Salsa music. His repertoire goes far beyond the exhilarating beats of Salsa. For the past decades, Ruben Blades has been telling us different stories about political oppression, poverty and even the meaning of life. The following is a short bio of one of the most outstanding artists in Salsa music.

Trivia Facts

  • Besides being a Salsa singer, Ruben Blades is an actor who has appeared in several Hollywood movies including Predator 2 and All the Pretty Horses.
  • Ruben Blades earned a degree from Harvard Law School.
  • In 1994, he ran as a candidate for the presidency of Panama.

Early Days

Ruben Blades Bellido de Luna was born in Panama City in 1948. As it happened with many famous artists in history, Ruben Blades grew up in a family where music was an important ingredient of the affective ties he developed. Nevertheless, music was not his first option in life. In 1974, he graduated from Law school in Panama, a degree he later finished with his studies at Harvard Law School in 1985.

Meeting Willie Colon

Ruben Blades, however, did not start his music career after becoming a lawyer. Somehow, he was able to handle his passion for music with his studies. By the end of the 1960s, Ruben Blades was already venturing into New York's Salsa scene. Thanks to his refreshing voice, Ruben Blades was able to record some tracks alongside Pete Rodriguez, one of the pioneers of the Latin Boogaloo fever that captured the Big Apple during that decade.

Although singing for Pete Rodriguez was a big honor, Ruben Blades' career really took off when he met Willie Colon, a trombone player from the Bronx. This friendship resulted in one of the most successful Salsa teams in the history of Salsa. Right from the very first album, it was clear the team Blades-Colon was bringing something new to Salsa music.

The name of that 1977 album was Metiendo Mano!, a production featuring some of the most enduring hits Ruben Blades has ever produced including "Pablo Pueblo" and "Plantacion Adentro". Metiendo Mano! was just the perfect beginning of a long time friendship with Willie Colon. During this time, the great Salsa singer Hector Lavoe joined the Blades-Colon team to record memorable hits.


In 1978, the Blades-Colon team recorded one of the most influential albums in Salsa history. The name of this production was Siembra and included hits like "Pedro Navaja," "Dime," "Plastico" and "Buscando Guayaba". Among these songs, "Pedro Navaja" became an immediate hit that took by storm the Latin music world. Thanks to this work, Ruben Blades consolidated his unique Intellectual Salsa style.

The prolific collaboration with Willie Colon produced additional albums like Maestra Vida, a two-volume production that tells the life story of an average man from Latin America. This album included the popular hit "Maestra Vida," which gave the name to this album.

Seis del Solar

In the 1980s, and after his work with Willie Colon, Ruben Blades joined the band Seis del Solar. With this group, Ruben Blades produced several hit albums like Buscando America, a production that included classic songs such as "Decisiones" and "El Padre Antonio Y El Monaguillo Andres". His work with Seis del Solar ended with the album The Best.

From that moment, Ruben Blades has moved into a solo career trying out many things. As a mature artist he has been experimenting with different sounds without leaving his intellectual interests about life and the world around us. During this time, he has produced albums like Amor Y Control and Tiempos. Some of his latest hits include tracks such as "Sicario" and "Creo En Ti".

Ruben Blades Best Songs

I am a big fan of Ruben Blades's music, and the following are my favorite songs by Ruben Blades:

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