Bon Voyage, Spring!

Hey Rebels,
 It’s officially June!  Summer is just around the corner, but if you’re in Toronto, you must have felt your skin sizzling under the hot sun last week. No complaints here. Since summer is almost here, I feel obligated to give a couple of legends in Salsa music their flowers. I’m mainly referring to Bobby Cruz from the duo Richie Ray Y Bobby Cruz. I also mentioned a former Newy York gang member who became an evangelist. His name is Nicky Cruz. What these men have in common are their Puerto Rican roots, two share a last name “Cruz” but are not related and also, they’ve all dedicated their lives to serve God with their work. Hope you keep reading to get to know these personalities a bit better.

Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz are renowned Puerto Rican salsa musicians who have made significant contributions to the genre. They formed a successful musical partnership in the 1960s and have since become known as one of the most influential duos in salsa music. Here are some things you need to know about Richie Ray, Bobby Cruz, Nicky Cruz, and Mau Mau’s:

Richie Ray (born Richard Maldonado Morales on February 15, 1945) is a pianist, composer, and arranger. He is known for his virtuosic piano playing, incorporating elements of jazz and classical music into his salsa compositions. Richie Ray’s unique style and technical skill have made him a respected figure in the salsa community.
Bobby Cruz (born Roberto Cruz Alvarado on February 2, 1937) is a singer and composer. He is recognized for his powerful voice and dynamic stage presence. Together with Richie Ray, they created a musical partnership that revolutionized salsa music.

Nicky Cruz (born December 6, 1938) is not directly associated with Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz. Still, he is a prominent figure in the history of the New York City street gang culture and later became a Christian evangelist. Nicky Cruz was a former gang member associated with the notorious Mau Mau’s gang. The Mau Mau’s were a Puerto Rican street gang based in New York City in the 1950s and 1960s. They were known for their involvement in criminal activities and violence. Nicky Cruz was a member of this gang before undergoing a radical transformation and turning his life around.While there might be some confusion due to similar names,
Richie Ray, Bobby Cruz, Nicky Cruz, and the Mau Mau’s are not directly connected in terms of their musical careers. Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz collaborated extensively, creating numerous salsa hits together, while Nicky Cruz has a distinct history as a former gang member turned evangelist.
When Bobby Cruz was a gang member in New York, he knew of the menace that was Nicky Cruz. I just found it fascinating that two prominent figures coming from different backgrounds happened to cross paths and ended up becoming legends.  
 We know this due to an interview Bobby Cruz did with Puerto Rican media personality, Molusco.
Watch the Molusco interview HERE.

He briefly explained that he was active on the streets in NY during the reign of Nicky Cruz. If you’d like to learn more about Nicky Cruz, check out the classic 1970 film featuring a young Eric Estrada as Nicky called ‘The Cross And The Switchblade.’
Watch it on YouTube. 

Nicky Cruz also has a documentary about his life called ‘Run, Baby, Run’ (1998.)
“When he was 15, his father sent him to visit an older brother in New York. But Nicky didn’t stay with his brother long, instead choosing to make it on his own. By age 16, he had become a member of the notorious Brooklyn street gang known as the Mau Maus.” Since his conversion to Christianity, he’s dedicated his life to helping former addicts and gang members around the world. 
Watch It On YouTube.

 Biopics are something all parties now have in common as well. In. 2023, a film was released called ‘The Kings Of Salsa’ (Los Reyes De La Salsa.)
“The Kings of Salsa tells the impressive story of the most important partner in salsa music, Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz. From their first meeting in New York City, Richie, a child prodigy, and Bobby, a young man immersed in the harshness of the street, find the passion that will unite them for the rest of their lives: music. The film explores their battles on and off the stage, from their musical origins, family conflicts, and their struggle to rise to the top, as they transform Latin music forever.”

Hope you end up checking out some of the music by the legends that are Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz. Hope you watch all of the movies and documentaries mentioned in this article. Thanks, and make sure to leave a comment wherever this is shared.

Written By: Mario Funes

DM via Instagram/Twitter: @wokeuparebel

Don’t forget to check out the Artist Spotlight section of the Newsletter to find out what our picks were that stood out from the Woke Up A Rebel Playlist.
Have a blessed week!

We hope you have a great week and don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you’d like to book us to DJ your next event in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area.) We DJ weddings, Birthday parties, Quinceaneras, Pop-up shops and any other event that needs music. We’ll be there for you.
E-mail us:

Rumba & Riddims is happening June 30th! See below for details and tickets.

Check out This YouTube short of last year’s event.

Rivoli is a historic venue where many legends have graced their stage including Drizzy Drake, Shawn Desman, Girl Ultra, Nirvana and many more.
Here’s an article I found from Blog TO that gives you a detailed history of the venue.
Read it here!

Left to Right: Jungle Royalty(Iesha), MellyQueeen, Mario, Sulek
This was the very first time we went to Rivoli and we supported as DJ’s for Toronto’s own Sulek and MellyQueen when they opened up for Mexican singer Girl Ultra. It was a great night. 

Girl Ultra @ Rivoli

Check out this dope Soca mix by our guest DJ ‘Sarjeant Music’ who will be bringing some heat on June 30th.
Listen Here.

Buy Your Tickets Here!
Join us for an unforgettable night of music that celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Latin American, Caribbean, West Indian, and African communities. Rivoli Toronto is a historic venue with great acoustics and atmosphere for all music lovers.
Our lineup features talented artists from these communities who will come together to create a unique musical experience that bridges cultural gaps and promotes unity.
Let the rhythms of Reggaeton, Latin House, Reggae, Dancehall, Soca, Afrobeats and Amapiano transport you to a world of vibrant colours and infectious energy.
Come and be a part of this celebration of diversity and cultural exchange.Bring your country’s flag to represent!Get your mobile tickets now and be a part of this unforgettable night of music that unites us all!19+ event I.D. required

Ticket holders will receive 10% off the Rivoli food menu only on the night of the event before 10:30PM.Brought to you by: Leroy Escobar, C. Cornejo, Woke Up A

*Security will be present for this event to ensure it is a safe and peaceful night*
Reviews are based off of the team at Woke Up A Rebel’s personal taste and does not mean you should not listen to  and form your own opinions of the songs/albums/EP’s that are mentioned.

Follow the playlist here: SPOTIFY

GANDIO- Ana Lia, Flavia Abadia
Review: 4/5

Two of Toronto’s most professional and talented artists who are all around great entertainers dropped a cool collaboration together. Ana Lia is Dominican Canadian and Flavia is Colombian French-Canadian. Ana Lia plays guitar, singer/songwriter and is a Flamenco enthusiast. Flavia is a singer/songwriter, international DJ and life coach/educator. You can definitely hear their unique contributions to this record. With the level of talent that met for this song, it’s obvious that these two have mastered putting ego aside and allowed each other to shine in this production. Produced by Benjamin Barrile and Marcus Huyskens. Make sure to add this song to your summer playlist, ASAP. 

Ana Lia: @Analiaag
Flavia Abadia: @Yourgirlflav

Bon Voyage- Teria Morada, Alonso Mendez, Choclair.

I first heard of Teria Morada through a post shared by a Toronto studio owner, William Dinero. I was impressed by the project and album artwork. Fast forward to the present day, she dropped a single alongside Toronto Hip Hop legend Choclair. The song was produced by Alonso Mendez and the most recent update has been a remix package of the song. The remix package contains a EDM festival mainstage banger which will definitely be making its rounds this summer. They also had an opportunity to perform the song on Toronto’s own Breakfast Television.

Mae sure to follow them on IG:
5/5Leroy Escobar is an artist who defines versatility. He can hop on a Reggaeton beat and smash it. He does Hip Hop, Trap, can potentially steal your girl with his romantic bars and now, he’s testing the waters with EDM. Needless to say, he’s hit the nail on the head with this one. Hearts//Corazones is carried by an infectious 4-on-the-floor beat that will inevitably get you shufflin’ and moving to the rhythm. I’ve had this song on repeat. Make sure to purchase your tickets for Rumba & Riddims to hear/see him perform this track and many more from his catalog. 

Check the song out on Spotify or this week’s Woke Up A Rebel Playlist

Purchase your tickets to see him perform live on June, 30th.
Old School Song Of The Week

Richy Ray Y Bobby Cruz- Sonido Bestial
Since we are on the topic of Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz, it seemed appropriate to dedicate this week’s Old School Song/album to the legends themselves. Check out this performance by these legends.
Rebelations Podcast
Listen to the latest podcast episode titled: Blood In Blood Out. Mario talks about how this classic movie influenced his upbringing and his community. If you’ve watched the movie, then you’ll probably find the episode relatable. If you haven’t watched the movie yet go watch it before listening to the episode because there are a lot of spoilers.You can find all of the episodes on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and YouTube.
Click Below:
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