Born Rubén Blades Bellido de Luna in Panama City, Panama, on July 18, 1948, Rubén Blades grew up with music. His father played the bongos and his mother was a pianist, singer, and radio actress. Blades made his first public performance as a singer in 1963 with his brother, Luis, and traveled to New York to record his debut album, De Panama a Nueva York: Pete Rodriguez Presenta a Ruben Blades. Released in 1970, it wasn’t a commercial success, and he returned to finish his law degree at the University of Panama. He worked as a lawyer, but never let go of his musical aspirations.
Rubén Blades’s musical career got a boost after he began singing with Ray Baretto’s salsa band in the early 1970s. He started collaborating with salsa musician Willie Colón in 1976. The two created several successful albums, including Siembra (1978), which is considered one of the most popular salsa albums of all time. Blades also made numerous solo recordings, including Buscando América (1984), Nothing But the Truth (1988) and Mundo (2002). Much of his work addresses social and political issues.
Blades won his first Grammy Award (best tropical Latin performance) in 1986 for his album Escenas, which featured a duet with Linda Ronstadt. He would win four more Grammys over his long career. His most recent win was in 2004 for Across 110th Street (best salsa/merengue album).
(Performance date and time might change and is without prejudice)