STORY WRITTEN BY AIXA TORREGROSA-VAZQUEZ
@aixatorregrosa on Twitter
Editor’s note: An interview was conducted in Spanish as the request of Gilberto Santa Rosa. His comments have been translated.
Get ready for a night of warm, tropical music.
Five-time Grammy Award-winner Gilberto Santa Rosa returns to the Philadelphia area and makes his debut at the Kimmel Center in Verizon Hall, as part of the Philly ¡En Vivo! concert series on Friday, June 19, at 8 p.m.
Sharing that he is glad it is summer as other visits have been framed by cold weather, the Puerto Rico native said in a phone interview he has been eager to return to the area.
Dubbed the “Gentleman of Salsa” (El Caballero de la Salsa), Santa Rosa, 52, boasts “the most No. 1 spots on Billboard’s Tropical albums chart with 11 to date,” according to a press release, along with a list of numerous awards and recognitions.
Noted as a creative interpreter and for his talent in the art of improvisation — a “sonero” (improvisational/freestyling singer) — Santa Rosa is humble when other salsa greats are mentioned.
“I’ve been blessed with [the opportunity] of working in this genre [of music] and of being listened to and earning the audience’s respect,” Santa Rosa said. “It’s a great personal accomplishment and a great responsibility as well.”
Santa Rosa grew up listening to salsa and bolero greats in Puerto Rico, notably El Gran Combo and Tito Rodriguez, he said when asked to name two of his idols. Those, along with many others, have inspired and helped shape his music.
Asked how he views the evolution and growth of salsa from its Caribbean roots across different continents, he said many musicians have helped expand opportunities and “the most important [result] is that they have been able to create more of an international language.” And “the biggest legacy is the music [has become] universal,” in addition to more venues being available to take your music to.
Some have qualified him as an innovator. Asked about the innovative quality of his music, he said he aims to not be predictable, and “maintaining a fresh sound is rooted in the one’s musical base” and one’s capacity as a musician. Still, “music offers many challenges,” he said.
On Friday, he will share through his music part of the legacy he has been entrusted as a musician.
Tropical music is more personal, Santa Rosa said, “because the artist brings part of his country with him.”
Santa Rosa is the third artist in the Philly ¡En Vivo! concert series.
More after the show
A post-show salsa party, sponsored by GOYA and featuring DJ Rumbero spinning salsa classics, will take place in the Commonwealth Plaza following the performance.
IF YOU GO
Tickets for Gilberto Santa Rosa are available from $38 to $81 and can be purchased by calling (215) 893-1999, online at kimmelcenter.org and at the Kimmel Center box office at Broad and Spruce streets (open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.).