Tito Nieves Biography

Humberto Nieves, 4 June c.1958, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. One of salsa’s hit-makers in the late 80s and early 90s, Nieves’ family migrated to Brooklyn, New York when he was two years old. The fact that his father played guitar with various trios and that his uncle was a renowned composer, singer and guitarist, created a family climate conducive to music, within which the young Tito studied bass, guitar and drums. Nieves began his professional career in 1975 as a vocalist with Orquesta Cimarrón, which was co-led by the band’s lead singer Rafael de Jesús. This was followed by a stint with Héctor Lavoe. Nieves made his recording debut as a lead vocalist in 1978 when the prominent Puerto Rican composer Johnny Ortiz hired him for Johnny Ortiz Y Taibori. In 1979 he was invited by composer/producer Ramón Rodríguez to perform lead vocals on the first album by Julio Castro And His Orquesta La Masacre. The same year he became a founder member of Conjunto Clásico with Rodríguez and executive producer/chorus singer/percussionist Raymond Castro, and appeared on eight of the band’s albums before departing in the mid-80s. Nieves signed with Ralph Mercado’s RMM Records and made his solo debut on The Classic in 1988. The album went gold and contained the hit ‘Sonanbulo’. The single ‘I’ll Always Love You’, from his 1989 follow-up Yo Quiero Cantar, achieved the distinction of being the first English language salsa tune to reach number 1 in the Puerto Rican hit parade and, with help from WBLS disc jockey Frankie Crocker, was a crossover success on some New York R&B radio stations. Crocker introduced Nieves at the 1990 New York Salsa Festival in Madison Square Garden. with The album won him another gold disc. In February 1990, Tito’s stepson died while being arrested. Nieves and Alexandra (a female vocalist with the merengue group the New York Band) duetted on the New York chart-topping English lyrics single ‘How Do You Keep The Music Playing’, which was included on his 1991 release Déjame Vivir and the compilation Put Your Heart On Salsa In English.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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