Rubén Blades: Cantares del Subdesarrollo

Panamanian artist Ruben Blades was honored with a Grammy Award for Best Singer-Songwriter Album of the Year for his album titled Cantares del subdesarrollo [Songs of Underdevelopment]. [Also see previous post Ruben Blades releases new CD after 6-year absence.]

The album, released in August last year, marked the return of the salsa icon after a five year absence from the world of entertainment. According to Blades, Cantares del subdesarrollo is spiritually dedicated to the people of Puerto Rico, especially to “el brujo de Borinquen, the great Ismael Rivera; to the great Tite Curet Alonso; and the great Ray Barretto, representing all my dear friends of the brega [roughly translated as daily endeavors] and musical discussion through these past 40 years.” Musically, he says, he dedicates the album to Cuba, “for its original contributions to the development of urban music around the world.”

“Songs of Underdevelopment” was recorded in 2003, but was not released until 2009, when he resumed his career after five years in public service. It represented a challenge to the Panamanian singer/songwriter, because this production was launched independently and was sold directly from his website

Blades explains that he produced the album with “the simplicity and power of our popular music” in mind and based on elements of “life in our neighborhoods: honesty, courage and hope, even in the face of difficulty or the biggest disappointments.”

For full reviews, see and

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