Get Ready for Tito Puente Centennial Celebration at Hostos College on April 19th




Main image: Elba Cabrera Papers. Tito Puente playing at the “Oye Willie” Block Party. Center for Puerto Rican Studies Library & Archives, Hunter College, CUNY.

The Center for Puerto Rican Studies (CENTRO) will host the panel “El Rey del Timbal: Tito Puente Centennial Celebration” at Hostos Community College’s Repertory Theatre on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, at 4 p.m. The event will feature Tito Puente’s closest friends, collaborators, and lifelong colleagues.

Attendees will hear from panelists Aurora Flores (musician, journalist), Nicky Marrero (percussionist), Oreste Abrantes(percussionist), Frankie Morales (musician), and Joe Conzo, Sr.(historian, publicist, and confidant), who will serve as the event’s Master of Ceremonies.

“We’re delighted to host such a wonderful event at our College. Hostos has been a proud supporter of the efforts to preserve and continue the legacy of Tito Puente. I’m pleased to continue to do so for many years to come,” said Hostos President Daisy Cocco De Filippis.

April 20, 2023, would have been El Rey del Timbal’s 100th birthday. Just a day before the anniversary of his birth, this conversation will highlight his impact on the American music scene and explore the variety of music he produced across genres. Born in 1923 to Puerto Rican parents in Spanish Harlem, Puente lived in a house filled with Caribbean music that undoubtedly influenced his style. He showed an interest in drumming at an early age, and it blossomed in the 1940s when he joined the Machito Orchestra. After serving in World War II, he returned to New York and studied at the Julliard School of Music. Once he graduated, Puente formed his own band in 1948, marking the beginning of a legendary career.

Below, Tito Puente Live in NYC Street Party (1979)

He received five Grammy Awards during his lifetime, as well as a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. Among other honors, he also received honorary degrees, the National Medal of the Arts in 1997, and the Key to New York City in 1969. Tito Puente’s legacy was also celebrated with a Google doodle as part of the Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations on October 11, 2022.

“This is a celebration of an absolute legend, Tito Puente, who inspired and uplifted many musicians for decades. The history of Latin music globally is what it is thanks to him,” shared CENTRO Director of Arts and Culture Ángel Antonio Ruiz Laboy.

After the panel discussion, a reception with light refreshments and music will follow at the C-building lobby, next to the Tito Puente Legacy Project exhibit.

El Rey del Timbal: Tito Puente’s Centennial Celebration will take place on Wednesday, April 19th from 4-6pm at Hostos Community College, 500 Grand Concourse in The Bronx.

This is a Free Event with Reserved Spot.

  • A special Thank You to author/artist/activist/bandleader, Aurora Flores, Aurora  & Zon del barrio for the heads-up on this wonderful Event.