The People’s Poet : Life and Myth of Ismael Riviera, an Afro – Caribbean Icon

by Rosa Elena Carrasquillo


At the peak of his career, Ismael Rivera shared the stage with salsa greats such as Benny Moré, Tito Puente and Celia Cruz. Hailed by musicians and critics alike, Ismael revolutionized tropical music with his unique singing style and fast-tempo improvisation, fusing Puerto Rican bomba and plena with Cuban son. The People’s Poet places the development of his iconic image in the context of Puerto Rico’s history.

Rosa Carrasquillo masterfully brings us an exciting biography of the mythical singer that centers the story within the social, political and economic milieus that shaped Puerto Rico during Maelo’s lifetime. Ismael Rivera comes alive as he struggles and navigates the Latin music worlds of San Juan and New York, and the opportunities and limitations present in the Puerto Rican society of his lifetime. This book is a must for all the fans of Afro-Caribbean music as well as for academics and students of 20th century Caribbean societies. —Xavier F. Totti, Lehman College, and editor of CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies

This nuanced and melodic portrait of Afro-Puerto Rican musician Ismael Rivers provides an insightful look at salsa and its social-political contexts from Puerto Rico to New York. The book leads the reader through great international triumphs to drug addiction and desolation, all the while pausing to ask difficult questions about black and Puerto Rican identity, post-colonial racism and misogyny. But in the end, it’s the music and glory that most matters.  —June Carolyn Erlick, editor-in-chief, ReVista, the Harvard Review of Latin America.

260 pp., softcover, 75 b & w illustrations, 6 x 9 inches. 

Cat. #: CSP1977
ISBN #: 9781626321977 


SKU: CSP1977 Categories: ,

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