Pioneer of Latin and Black Music Remembered

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Reporting for News One: Tramell Dominic Caldeyro

The legacy of Ralph Mercado is a testimony to the love and admiration of Latin music artist and fans all around the world. This inspirational impresario is accredited for launching the careers of our most beloved musicians. After his bout with cancer Ralph Mercado died at the age of 67 ending a career of nearly fifty years in the music the industry. He leaves behind his wife Cynthia and five children.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Mercado has deep roots in the history and culture of Latin tropical music. During the early sixties era the dance trend had become very popular. As a teenager he coordinated local dance parties taking on the role of President of his neighborhood social club. Mercado arranged social engagements called waist line parties in which males where permitted free admission but required to pay a penny for each inch measured from the waistline of their dates. He went on to promote many pioneers in the R&B industry such as the Stylistics, James Brown and Aretha Franklin.

Mercado was a major influence in the music industry. His ability to inspire artists and unite his community led to his success as a promoter. Throughout his life he directed numerous Latin music performances and catapulted the careers of nearly every star of Latin tropical music. During his career he managed huge icons of the Latin music industry including Celia Cruz and Tito Puente. From mambo to rhythm and blues to salsa Ralph Mercado created the bridge between Latin and Soul music closing the gap between African American and Latino music culture. In 1999 Billboard magazine recognized Ralph Mercado’s contributions with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ralph Mercado along with Sergio George (the Nuyorican sorcerer of salsa) began producing the Latin tropical flavors of RMM records. Following the decline of the 1970’s impresario mogul Jerry Masucci of Fania Records, Mercado’s record label RMM took the Latin tropical sound of salsa to greater heights. During the early 1980’s Ralph Mercado’s contributions to the music industry projected the sound of Latin tropical music and salsa to the platform in which it rests today. According to salsa star Victor Manuel “He was one of the key figures in bringing and maintaining salsa to the place it now occupies.” said Victor Manuel “Tropical music has lost one of the promoters that defended and represented our genre the most.” Many Latin recording artists share the same sentiment for Ralph Mercado.

During a telephone interview with News One the international salsa sensation Lefty Perez described Ralph Mercado as “The God Father of Salsa”.  With a sense of regret Lefty explains how he was not afforded the opportunity to record with Mercado. Although he collaborated with Mercado in several performances with other Latin artists, time did not permit a formal recording collaboration. Perez describes how Mercado’s influence was passed on from artist to artist positively promoting the progression of the Latin music industry. In our interview Lefty Perez accredits Ralph Mercado for finding new talent such as Marc Anthony, La India, and Orchesta la Luz (Japan). “Salsa kept growing and growing and he put his label on to continue its path.” said Lefty Perez “What more could he have done?”

As a testimony to the contributions of Ralph Mercado and how his influence helped to create a bridge for R&B soul and Latin tropical music we offer the Africanan American and Latino community these words of condolences from Lefty Perez El Salsero de Amor,

Thank you! To end it I’d like to just say… Ralphy, Yu know I love you.
I will always love you… The day that I leave this earth I will take
you in my heart with me. Because you did so many good things!
Your name will always live on… Our salseros will continue our path no
matter how.. difficult it seems.. to might get… For me it will always be…
Que vive la salsa, hoy, manana, y siempre!

Watch a Tribute to Ralph Mercado

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