essay helper

Being Latino on Google Plus

“El Cantante” – Anthem of the overwhelmed celebrity

Flashback Friday

We’ve all heard his story many times over. Different versions, some so different you don’t know who or what to believe. His life was turned into an off-Broadway play and even a major production on the big screen, portrayed by an international superstar. Having said that, I think I’ll spare you the life story. Hector Lavoe, to a salsero is like Babe Ruth to even the most lukewarm of baseball fans. We know his life story, his trials, tribulations and the uneventful and tragic end to what was a legendary career. He was known as “The Voice”, “King of Punctuality” (a jab at his habit of arriving to most of his gigs up to an hour late), and “The Singer”, which also happened to be the title to the song in which he is most recognized for as well as this week’s focus on Flashback Fridays.

In 1978, fellow Salsero and Fania label mate, Ruben Blades had just written the soon-to-be classic when Willie Colon convinced him to give it to Hector since his nickname was already “El Cantante de Los Cantantes” (The Singer of Singers). Hector recorded it that same year and it immediately became a huge hit as well as his signature song. Ruben Blades has stated that even though he didn’t want to give Lavoe the song, the classic status to which Lavoe took it was far beyond what Blades himself would have taken it and he is now glad he gave the song up to Hector.

In “El Cantante”, the singer is telling the listener that people may pay to see him perform, but he is actually just like everyone else, living a life of laughter and pain, bitterness, and good times. A part of the song that stands out to me is where he mentions when people stop him in the street and say “You must be living the good life, always with women and at parties,” but that no one asks him if he’s suffering and crying, if he has a pain that runs deep. He may not have written this song, but it’s almost as if it was written with his personal life’s experiences in mind. A singer with a comedian’s wit when on stage, but behind the scenes, faced many struggles from drug addiction, the death of his son, to a failed suicide attempt. The song is a classic at parties which is ironic, because it tells the story of a singer forced to crack a smile and entertain the masses while dealing with personal demons in his own life. Truly one of the most bittersweet of songs and yet, a favorite of many.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. I love Hector Lavoeee!

  2. Now That’s an anthem applicable to a lot of types of performers!

  3. Hector who? Lol

  4. Thanks it was nice to hear this song, Have a great weekend!

  5. LOL Amanda.

  6. Agreed. All that movie achieved was make Hector look like a drug fiend. It didn’t focus on his career at all.

  7. I rushed to see it on opening day. Marc playing the part of Hector? Dream come true. Turned out to be the worst bio-pic ever!

  8. The only good thing was Marc’s rendition of the song El Cantante.

  9. Love the way it started with a bolero version. If they have a full version of that. Ill take it!

  10. On my Ipod, I have this song sung by all three; Blades, Lavoe and Anthony. Each version is great.

  11. El cantante de los cantantes…

  12. I loved the movie. Made me do research and look into he was as a person. I dont think it was a negative movie, just depends on the mind behind the eyes, we all have flaws, but seeing the real person is the gift we should seek to appreciate.

  13. I may have been a little too harsh. It wasn’t a bad movie. It’s just that I felt it focused way too much on Hector’s drug abuse and volatile relationship with Puchi as opposed to his life as an entertainer. Plus, a lot of the movie was highly fictionalized. ‘