Adalberto Santiago is an internationally known Salsa singer from Barrio Pozas in Ciales, Puerto Rico. Adalberto’s relaxed and flawless lead vocals are among the best in the Salsa genre of Latin music. His early influences included the great Cuban vocalists Beny Moré and Miguelito Cuní. Santiago started his professional career singing with trios and playing guitar and bass. After stints with the bands of Chuíto Vélez, where he was called “The Puerto Rican Elvis Presley”, Willie Rosario and Willie Rodriguez, his career reached new heights when he joined Ray Barretto’s band. Between 1966 and 1972, Adalberto made seven studio albums with Ray Barretto that contained hit songs like “Quitate La Mascara” and “Alma Con Alma”. In late 1972, Adalberto and four other members of Barretto’s band departed to found Típica 73. He appeared on three of their albums before disagreement over musical direction led him, and three other band members, to split during the mid-70s to form Los Kimbos. Meanwhile, Santiago sang lead vocals on two critically acclaimed charanga albums, Fantasía Africana/African Fantasy and Our Heritage – Nuestra Herencia, by flautist, composer and producer Lou Pérez.
Los Kimbos band and had a sound reminiscent of both the pre-split Ray Barretto band and Tipica 73. With them, Adalberto recorded 1976’s Los Kimbos and The Big Kimbos With Adalberto Santiago in 1977. That year he also made his solo debut on Adalberto, which was produced by Ray Barretto and contained two of his own compositions. Los Kimbos continued under the leadership of legendary timbales player Orestes Vilató. Santiago sang lead on one track on Louie Ramírez y Sus Amigos by Louie Ramírez. In 1979, Adalberto and Ramírez co-produced his solo follow-up, Adalberto Featuring Popeye El Marino. The same year, he reunited with Ray Barretto on Rican/Struction. Ray produced Adalberto’s next solo album, Feliz Me Siento, the following year. Sonora Matancera member, Javier Vázquez, produced, arranged, directed and played piano on the rootsy Adalberto Santiago, which was Adalberto’s contribution to the early 80s típico (typical) revival. In 1982, he teamed up with bandleader/bongo player Roberto Roena for Super Apollo 47:50. Santiago co-produced Calidad with Papo Lucca, who also played piano, arranged one track and oversaw musical direction. His Cosas Del Alma was an album of lush boleros which included his third recorded version of the classic “Alma Con Alma” (previously contained on Barretto’s The Message and Gracias ), and featured arrangements made by Tito Puente, Ray Santos and Alberto Naranjo, among others. He returned to harder-edged urban salsa in 1985 on Más Sabroso.
Adalberto did his own mature version of salsa romántica on the classy Sex Symbol, with production, arrangements, musical direction and piano by the ubiquitous Isidro Infante. This album produced one of Santiago’s biggest solo hit songs “La Noche Mas Linda Del Mundo” In 1990, he again performed “Alma Con Alma”, this time arranged by Infante in a salsa romántica style for Louie Ramírez’s second album entitled Louie Ramírez y Sus Amigos.
Santiago has written songs for a number of the albums on which he has appeared, both as lead singer and solo artist, and provided compositions for other artists to record, such as Joe Cuba. He has appeared in Robin William’s movie “Moscow on The Hudson” and provided music for Al Pacino’s “Carlito’s Way” as well as appearing as himself in the film Our Latin Thing.
Adalberto has remained true to his Latin roots and a statement he made in 1977 is still relevant in the 2000s: “I want to bring a truly Latin message to the people; this is what I do best and the structure of Salsa is best suited to my singing style”.
Adalberto, now in his 80’s, continues to record and perform in the US, Europe and South America. He is celebrating 60+ years as a professional musician.