Héctor Lavoe’s ‘El Cantante’ inducted into Library of Congress National Recording Registry

El Cantante debuted on the 1978 Fania Records album “Comedia.” It was written by Rubén Blades and produced by Willie Colón, both salsa icons, and Lavoe’s Fania Records fellows. (Capture via Fania Records).

By Mivette Vega

April 19, 2024

Dozens of Latin songs were nominated this year to be added to the registry, as part of an effort to increase the recognition of Latino contributions to American history and culture.

Héctor Lavoe’s salsa classic “El Cantante” is one of the 25 songs inducted into the National Recording Registry (NRR) at the Library of Congress this year.

“El Cantante” debuted on the 1978 Fania Records album “Comedia.” It was written by Rubén Blades and produced by Willie Colón, both salsa icons, and Lavoe’s Fania Records fellows.

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“The song narrates the livelihood, struggles, and adversities that singers experience, along with describing how they must interact positively with the public—who, in the end, are their only supporters. ‘El Cantante’ is an excellent example of the many songs that became emblematic at the height of the 1970s New York City salsa era,” NRR explained in its announcement of the new songs inducted on Tuesday.

“El Cantante” was also the title of the 2006 biopic of Lavoe’s life starring Marc Anthony and Jennifer López. It was also Lavoe’s signature song and today it is a salsa classic that continues to impact new generations.

Dozens of Latin songs were nominated this year to be added to the registry by Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, as part of an effort to increase the recognition of Latino contributions to American history and culture. However, the music made by Latin artists currently represents less than 5% of inducted titles.

For the past 18 years, the Library of Congress has chosen 25 recordings for preservation at the registry.

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“El Cantante” joins other songs performed or composed by Puerto Ricans, preserved by NRR. In 2023, Daddy Yankee’s hit “Gasolina” was included on the registry. In 2022 the same thing happened with Ricky Martin’s song, “Livin la vida loca,” composed by Draco Rosa.

Other Puerto Rican productions included have been the albums “Dance Mania,” by Tito Puente, and “Azúcar Pa’ Ti,” by Eddie Palmieri (1965); and the songs “Lamento Borincano,” by Rafael Hernández, performed by Canario (Manuel Jiménez) and his group.

Author

  • Mivette Vega

    Mivette Vega is a seasoned journalist and multimedia reporter whose stories center the Latino community. She is passionate about justice, equality, environmental matters, and animals. She is a Salvadorrican—Salvadorian that grew up in Puerto Rico—that has lived in San Juan, Venice, Italy, and Miami.

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