Fania Records, Part 1



Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! #fania #hispanicheritagemonth #latinx

This is our very first show to directly address Hispanic Heritage Month here in the United States, which runs from September 15th until October 15th. The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Lastly, Columbus Day, also known as Día de la Raza, is on October 12, and falls within this 30 day period. Our topic for this show focuses on Fania Records, an independent record label that brought Salsa music to the mainstream in the 1960’s and 1970’s. 

Celia Cruz, circa late 1960/early 1970’s.
Photo by Herrera Studios; courtesy of Omer Pardillo-Cid.

A short, humorous history of Fania Records goes something like this: if Motown had been a label focused on Latin Jazz and Salsa music and featured Hispanics and not African-Americans, then you might have an idea of the impact and the importance of this part of music history. Fania was founded by bandleader by Dominican-born composer and bandleader Johnny Pacheco and Italian-American former police officer turned attorney Jerry Masucci in 1964. They focused on Latin Jazz and Salsa, the latter of which at the time was a term used specifically to describe Puerto Rican dance music. 

“If there is no dance, there is not music.”

– Tito Puente

 Through a great deal of very hard work and constant gigging by its artists, Fania, an independent, became the most respected and best loved of all labels that dealt specifically in Latin music. Eventually, Salsa music went into a decline in the late 1970’s in the United States, and Fania’s small operation could simply not compete with the Spanish music divisions of larger labels. Masucci eventually became sole owner, one of many other small labels he would collect throughout Latin America. The assets were sold Emusica in 2005, a Miami-based music company, who went about remastering and re-releasing the Fania archives. Fania has since been revived as new music label, albeit one with a history that literally is the foundation of all modern-day Hispanic music here in the United States. 

Hector Lavoe, 1976, courtesy of Fania/Emusic archives.

And, for our vinyl enthusiasts, Fania has been slowly releasing its back catalogue through its own name and in partnership with others, bringing back the sound of Salsa in the way it was originally produced and treasured.

First Part

  • Black Brothers, Tito Puente
  • Lluvia Con Nieve, Efrain “Mon” Rivera
  • The Bottle (La Botella), Joe Bataan
  • The Oracle, Sabu Martinez
  • Estoy Buscando A Kako, Charlie Palmieri
  • Bomba Na’ Ma’, La Lupe
  • Blanca, Johnny Pacheco with Pete (Conde) Rodriguez

Second Part

  • Tin Tin Deo, Ray Baretto
  • Lo Que Pide La Gente, Fania All-Stars
  • Cucula, Celia Cruz

Finale

  • Periódico De Ayer, Héctor Lavoe

Ben “Bear” Brown Jr., owner
Host, Producer, Audio Engineer and Writer

“Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for ‘fair use’ for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.”


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