Willie Colon at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts
(Published: July 18, 2012)
Lehman Center for the Performing Arts presents an exclusive NYC event, after over a decade since his last performance at Lehman Center, the return of a Bronx-born Salsa icon -- WILLIE COLÓN: LA HISTORIA -- on Saturday, August 18, 2012 at 8pm. Renowned singer, trombonist, composer, producer, actor, director, and internationally respected community leader, Willie Colón has recorded 40 albums and sold more than 30 million records worldwide, including fifteen gold and five platinum records and eleven GRAMMY® nominations. He has collaborated with such musical greats as the Fania All-Stars, Héctor LaVoe, Rubén Blades, David Byrne and Celia Cruz. His 1978 collaboration with Blades, Siembra, is the biggest-selling Salsa/Tropical album of all-time. In 2004 Colón received a Lifetime Achievement Latin GRAMMY Award. This concert is produced by Lehman Center and José Raposo.
Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is on the campus of Lehman College/CUNY at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, NY 10468. Tickets for WILLIE COLÓN: LA HISTORIA on Saturday, August 18, 2012 at 8pm are $50, $40, and $30 and can be purchased by calling the Lehman Center box office at 718.960.8833 (Monday through Thursday, 10am-5pm and beginning at 12 noon on the day of the concert), or through 24-hour online access at www.LehmanCenter.org. Lehman Center is accessible by #4 or D train to Bedford Park Blvd. and is off the Saw Mill River Parkway and the Major Deegan Expressway. Low-cost on-site parking is available for $5.
Willie Colón, Bronx-born of Puerto Rican grandparents, has fused his musical talent, his passion for humanity, and his community and political activism into an extraordinary career. He organized his first band in 1964 at age 14 and made his recording debut as a bandleader on the self-produced single "Fuego en el barrio" on the Futura label. At 17 he became one of the first signings to the Fania Records label. His 1967 Fania debut, El Malo, included his first hit, the instrumental "Jazzy." Ten albums between 1967 and 1975 were made in partnership with Puerto Rican-born Héctor Lavoe. In 1974 Colón turned leadership of his band over to Lavoe to concentrate on producing and arranging. His albums over the next four years continued to be in association with other lead singers, including Mon Rivera, Rubén Blades and Celia Cruz. Though he had emerged from the coro to sing lead vocals on three tracks of his GRAMMY-nominated 1975 album The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, 1979's Solo was the first time he carried an entire album as lead singer. The album was certified gold within three weeks of its release. Colón made three more solo albums before leaving Fania in the mid-'80s, including 1981's platinum-winning Fantasmas. He has performed internationally for decades, including a 1998 reunion with Blades for Amnesty International in Caracas Venezuela for over 140,000 people, and a 2005 sold-out tour of Latin America with Marc Anthony. In 2008 he released El Malo II: Prisioneros del mambo, a mixture of contemporary sounds and Salsa dura, and in 2010 scored a hit with "Estar lejos," a duet with Colombian music star Fonseca.
Willie Colón has been a civil rights, community, political and health activist as well as Chair of the Association of Hispanic Arts, a member of the Latino Commission on AIDS, and a member of several boards of directors, including the United Nations Immigrant Foundation. In 1991 he was awarded Yale University's CHUBB Fellowship, a political recognition he shares with such luminaries as John F. Kennedy, Moshe Dyane and Ronald Reagan. In 1995 Colón became the first minority to serve on the ASCAP National Board of Trustees and is now a member of the ASCAP Foundation. In 1997 he became a spokesperson for CARE, visiting sites in Bolivia. In 1999, in collaboration with the U.N. women's organization UNIFEM and the Mexican sister organization SEMILLAS, he hosted an International Women's Day fund raiser at his music hall Salón 21 in Mexico City. His involvement in the campaign to end U.S. military occupation and practice bombing at the Puerto Rican island of Vieques earned him the EPA's Environmental Quality Award. A visiting professor and lecturer at many prestigious colleges and universities, Colón has honorary doctorates from both Trinity and Lehman Colleges. In 2008 he was named one of the 100 most influential Latinos by People en Espanol, and in 2009 he received the Latino Trendsetter Award, presented at the United Nations.
Lehman Center is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council. The 2011-2012 season is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, JPMorgan Chase, and through corporations, foundations and private donations.