Latin Culture CelebrationIssac Delgado

Thursday / November 12, 2009 / 12:00 p.m.
Red Room at Cafe 939
939 Boylston Street
United States

Issac Delgado was one of Cuba's most well-known musicians before defecting to the United States in 2006. A founding member of timba's seminal group NG La Banda, Delgado has received two Latin Grammy nominations, and his solo recordings with Gonzalo Rubalcaba earned him a number of EGREM prizes, the Cuban equivalent of the Grammy. 

Issac Felipe Delgado Ramirez was born in Mariano (Havana), Cuba. The middle child of three, his father was a tailor, his mother a performer at the Teatro Musical de La Habana. When he was 10 years old he started studying the violincello, but within a couple of years realized he wasn't all that interested in the instrument. In fact, what he really wanted to do was play soccer. Enrolling in a different school, he turned his skill and attention wholly to the game.

In 1979 Delgado enrolled in the Instituto Superior de Cultura Fisica Manuel Fajardo where he strove to become licensed in sports, although by that time he was already a fan of salsa. The following year he joined pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba's Grupo Proyecto. Delgad refocused his educational goals, enrolling in a school for professional musicians and taking additional voice lessons.

Delgado really came into his own when he joined NG La Banda in 1988. NG La Banda was making its name with a new sound called timba at a time when Cuba was experiencing change during the tumultuous era called the "Special Period," following the waning of Soviet influence. The band, timba, and Delgado caught the public's imagination and launched Delgado to both local and international fame.

Following these years of enormous success, Delgado launched his own group in 1991. The '90s were busy years for the singer as the group performed, won awards (an EGREM in 1992, 1993, and 1995) and opened his discotheque Azucar in Cancun. In 1995 Delgado signed with Ralph Mercado's RMM label, which gave him further exposure, opportunities, and growing international acclaim.

In 2006, Delgado settled in Tampa, Florida. The move to the U.S. was spurred by a desire for more artistic freedom, although the singer has stated in numerous interviews that it was the death of his mother in 2005 that finally freed him to quietly cross that border.

Delgado then signed with Univision's La Calle Records and hooked up with salsa producer and starmaker Sergio George to collaborate on his first album from the U.S., En Primera Plana. The album title means "on the front page," a fitting description of Delgado's life. The album was nominated for numerous awards, including Grammy and Latin Grammy awards for Best Tropical Album.