Tito Puente, King of Latin Music, to be Honored at Yale

Five-time Grammy-winner and mambo master Tito Puente will be honored by the Chubb Fellowship of Yale University on Thursday, April 6, with a symposium and concert celebrating his extraordinary contribution to Latin music.

Five-time Grammy-winner and mambo master Tito Puente will be honored by the Chubb Fellowship of Yale University on Thursday, April 6, with a symposium and concert celebrating his extraordinary contribution to Latin music.

Both events are free and open to the public. Although there is no charge for the concert, admission is by ticket only. Tickets may be obtained by calling 432-8873.

Puente has won five Grammy awards, most recently in February 2000 for his musical extravaganza, “Mambo Birdland.” His output is nothing short of astonishing: 117 albums to date. Puente was awarded the Medal of the Arts by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1997, and later that same year he was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame along with Nat King Cole, Miles Davis and Ray Charles. The Smithsonian National Museum presented him with a Medal of Honor and a Lifetime Achievement Award. He has earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and four honorary degrees.

A symposium, “The Life and Art of Tito Puente: 50 Years of Latin Music,” will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. in the University Art Gallery lecture hall, 1111 Chapel St.

C. Daniel Dawson, curator, art and media consultant and programming specialist of the American Museum of Natural History will moderate the discussion. Participants include Robert Farris Thomson, the John Colonel Professor of the History of Art at Yale; Steven Loza, professor of ethnomusicology at U.C.L.A. and author of “Tito Puente and the Making of Latin Music”; Marta Vega, chair of the board of the Caribbean Cultural Center of New York City; Rene Lopez, record producer, research associate on Latin music with the Smithsonian Institute and Latin jazz advisor to the Lincoln Center jazz program; and Andy Jerrick, a pioneer of Latin dance who performed at the Palladium Ballroom in the late 1950s with Tito Puente.

At 8 p.m., Puente and his 12-member orchestra will give a concert, “Honor Al Rey Del Mambo,” in Woolsey Hall, corner of College and Grove streets. The program will feature compositions that represent Puente’s artistic achievements over the last half-century.

In conjunction with the symposium and concert, there will be an exhibit related to Puente in the Music Library of Sterling Memorial Library, 120 High St.

Born in 1923, Ernest (Ernestito) Anthony Puente Jr. grew up in East Harlem’s El Barrio neighborhood, a cultural crossroads for Latino youth. His parents were immigrants from Puerto Rico, and Tito was strongly influenced by the culture of that tropical island, with its boleros and rumbas, as well as by the great swing bands and jazz artists of his youth. He studied piano, drums and dancing, and performed as one-half of a song-and-dance team with his sister, Anna.

Percussion dominates Puente’s music, and he is known for his dazzling performance on the timbales as well as his creativity as a composer and arranger.

The Chubb Fellowship is devoted to encouraging and aiding Yale students interested in the operations of government and in public service. Established in 1936 through the generosity of Hendon Chubb (Yale 1895), the program is based in Timothy Dwight College, one of Yale’s residential colleges. Each year, four or five distinguished men and women have been appointed as Visiting Chubb Fellows. Former Chubb Fellows include Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, and author Toni Morrison.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325