Dominican merengue artist Joseíto Mateo going strong at 97


This EFE article centers on Dominican merengue artist Joseíto Mateo, who is “not thinking about retirement, even at 97 years of age.” This revered musician began his career as a singer son and bolero singer, and was part of the Cuban orchestra La Sonora Matancera and later, of the Puerto Rican group El Gran Combo. He was honored in a tribute to his career—“El merengue según Mateo” [Merengue according to Mateo]—at the Palace of Fine Arts in Santo Domingo on November 26, 2017 (during Merengue Week). Primerahora reports:

Dominican singer Joseíto Mateo, who is 97 years old and will receive a tribute today for his contributions to music, said he does not intend to leave the stage despite his age, and called young artists to lead a healthy life and “without vices,” the secret of his longevity, according to Efe.

“I will retire when I die (…) I will not retire, the years will retire me,” laughingly declared the proclaimed King of Merengue, who has already dedicated 80 years to the music business.

In fact, the acclaimed musician, who began singing son y bolero” and was part of the Cuban orchestra La Sonora Matancera and the Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, is currently promoting, to the rhythm of salsa, the song “Candilejas” [Limelight] from the homonymous Charlie Chaplin film.

Mateo, who received the Latin Grammy Award for Musical Excellence in 2010, promises other salsa pieces, stating that his style is well liked because it is very different from the current salsa performers. “My profession is singing and I can sing in any genre,” said the Dominican musician, who lives in the Dominican Republic and the United States. He made clear in his statements to Efe that he would never abandon the merengue, the essence of his career. “I will not leave the merengue [genre] and the merengue will not leave me,” said Mateo, an icon of the music in his country, the Dominican Republic, whose Ministry of Culture will honor him today in the show “Merengue according to Mateo,” at the Palace of Fine Arts.

A special band of music Maestros will perform classic merengue themes that were popularized by Joseíto Mateo, who said he felt honored by this recognition. The event will also include Johnny Ventura, Milly Quezada, Miriam Cruz, Eddy Herrera, Ileana Reynoso, and José Peña Suazo.

The activity is part of Merengue Week, which started last Monday to celebrate the emblematic rhythm of this Caribbean country, a genre declared by UNESCO as an example of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity last year.

[Translated by Ivette Romero.] For the original article (in Spanish), see

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