Ruben Blades, “Plantacion Adentro”

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One of the major cultural icons in modern day Panama, Ruben Blades has an extensive resume – salsa singer, songwriter, actor, Latin jazz musician, and activist. He has also run for president, winning over 18% of the popular vote in the 1994 election!

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As songwriter, Blades mixes the lyrical sophistication of Central American nueva canción and Cuban nueva trova, as well as experimental tempos and political inspired Nuyorican salsa to his music, creating thinking persons’ (salsa) dance music.

Ruben Blades has composed dozens of musical hits, the most famous of which is “Pedro Navaja,” a song about a neighborhood thug who appears to die during a robbery (his song “Sorpresas” continues the story), inspired by “Mack the Knife.” He also composed and sings what many Panamanians consider their second national anthem. The song is titled “Patria” (Fatherland).