Choco Orta at San Juan Bautista Festival in New York

As part of the San Juan Bautista celebrations in New York, acclaimed salsa singer Choco Orta will be headlining the evening festivities this Sunday, June 26, 2011.

The San Juan Bautista Festival in New York is held every year on the Sunday closest to June 24, beginning with a huge outdoor mass and procession in Battery Park in Manhattan. “Since 1952, San Juan Bautista, the patron saint of Puerto Rico has been celebrated on a large scale, as a demonstration of new immigrants’ struggle to retain the religious traditions of their homeland. Today the festival is a mix of sacred and secular traditions. Battery Park becomes Puerto Rico for a day: food and music abound; children run and play, and everyone dances.”

Choco Orta (Virgen Milagros Orta Rodríguez) is considered a salsa diva and sonera (improvisational vocalist). Born in the Santurce district of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she has been recognized as a highly accomplished female singer, percussionist, actor and dancer. As a sonera, “she has a passionate and extroverted style that makes the most of her sensual, deep contra-alto voice.” The performer has often been compared to Celia Cruz.

José A. Simián (New York Daily News) describes her thus: “Ask Orta [. . .] any question and you will receive a storm of statements, flowing in a rhythm that mirrors her spitfire performances. Watch her on stage and you will see why some consider her salsa’s Great Living Hope. She covers every inch of the stage with her voice and feet and—without missing a beat—sits at the congas to play an astonishing solo.”

As a singer, Choco has performed with the orchestras of Nacho Sanabria, Roberto Angleró, Waldo Borres and Julio “Gunda” Merced. She has recorded several albums including Reina del Sabor, Sentimiento y Sabor, Ahora Mismo, and the latest CD, the acclaimed Choco Swing. Orta has been singing all over the Caribbean, Africa, North America, and Europe. The noted vocalist is also an accomplished actress, appearing in various plays and films including the Banco Popular’s special on Puerto Rican music, Raíces. Her feature films include Bala perdida (2003), Assassins (1995), and A Show of Force (1990).

[Many thanks to Linda Rodríguez Guglielmoni for bringing this item to our attention.]

For review by J.A. Simián, see

See the artist’s page at

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