Music Instructor Recognized by Puerto Rican Government

Northwest Vista music instructor Georgie Padilla recently received prestigious recognition from the government of Puerto Rico for his work with the legendary musical group, Fania All-Stars, also known as the “The Latin Rolling Stones.”

In November, Padilla was invited by the Puerto Rican government to celebrate the 50thanniversary of when the group formed in 1968. The group, originating in New York City, is credited with bringing Salsa to the states. In 1973, Fania performed at the Yankee Stadium for an audience of 40,000 and filmed their second movie called “Salsa,” hosted by Geraldo Rivera. A year later, Fania performed at the Muhammad Ali and George Foreman Heavyweight Championship in Zaire along with James Brown and others for an audience of 80,000 and filmed their third movie Live in Africa.”

“These artists, while not officially trained, brought a new sound that was to be recognized as the Salsa we know today,” says Padilla. “They came from Cuba, exiled from Castro’s government, and from Puerto Rico.”

The Fania All-Stars was put together in the late 1960’s and consisted of a group of musicians playing a hybrid music stemming from Cuban Afro-Caribbean beats. The music resonated with Puerto Ricans immigrants in New York City, enough to create a new movement for the new sound now known as salsa music.

Born in New York City and raised in Puerto Rico, Padilla is no stranger to the rich and diverse sounds of Latin Afro-Caribbean music. Padilla has always loved making music. His family recalls him banging on kitchen appliances creating a riot as early as 3-years old. Later, he picked up an instrument at the age of 12 and has not put one down since.

Padilla, along with other members of the Fania All-Stars, received the recognition Thanksgiving week in San Juan, Puerto Rico at La Rotunda located in the heart of the Puerto Rican capitol. For Padilla, it is a dream come true to be recognized for his musical efforts in helping create the music he grew up with and loves.

“My dream was always to play with the Fania All-Stars,” says Padilla. “I worked with some of the most important people in Fania All-Stars and for that, I am very grateful.”

Padilla’s musical career spans decades. He collaborated with Fania All-Stars to produce its last studio recorded album, “Bravo 97,” alongside the legendary Celia Cruz, and working with other Latin greats like Papo Lucca, Sonora Ponceña, Cheo Feliciano, Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz.

Padilla honed his skills in Latin percussion first playing by ear as a natural talent, then learning how to read and compose after obtaining a master’s degree in music.

“When someone recognizes your efforts, after a lot of struggle, it is a real nice feeling,” he says. “When you have a dream just to follow your dream, for me it was a dream and it came true, but it doesn’t stop there, you have to keep going because there is more to give.”





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