The scene at the "La Salsa Vive" party, which closed out day one of the Billboard Latin Music Conference. (Photo: Michael Seto)
With video footage of Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco performing "Quimbara" as a backdrop and N'Klabe crisply pouring out 1980's classics such as "Lluvia" on the 19th floor of the JW Marriot Marquis, any whispers of salsa dying were barely audible during " La Salsa Vive," a tribute in celebration of the genre Tuesday night to conclude the opening day of the Billboard Latin Music Conference in Miami.
"You hear that? There's no way we can let the genre die," said the 360 Group CEO Carlos Perez, who represents Colombian singer Charlie Zaa. "It's too bad radio doesn't believe in the genre because they want to feed the young generation."
Speaking over a blistering rendition of Hector Lavoe's "Hacha y Machete", Perez pointed out the lack of originality, in addition to the decline of airplay and general public disinterest as serious issues plaguing salsa. "Let's be honest, most of the younger people in this room have no clue who Hector Lavoe is," added Perez. "They need somebody they can relate to for salsa to have any chance of staying relevant."
Entertainers for the evening N'Klabe get set to take the stage. (Photo: Michael Seto)
The diversity in genres, including bachata and reggeaton, and the fading of the 1980's salsa romantica movement have been to difficult to overcome, said AJ Music president Jorge Luis Borrego. "It's going to take new songwriters, new singers and new producers, not just bands rehashing the same old stuff."
TIP OF THE HAT: AEG Live/Goldenvoice VP of Latin Talent Rebecca Leon was quite vocal during a lively Leaders Panel in stressing the importance of everybody in the Latin music industry - talent, managers, and promoters - to work together in the future, instead of just focusing on the cash register.
"It's critical everybody put their egos aside, stop thinking dollar signs and work as one," said Leon, who pointed out how country music headliner Sugarland routinely tours with Lady Antebellum and Keith Urban. "We need to find a way to come together, not continue to put barriers up when it's time to do business."
Salsa dancers getting their groove on to the music. (Photo: Michael Seto)
Cardenas Marketing Network President/CEO Henry Cardenas wants more energy to go into finding new artists. "I always ask myself, 'What is the future of the industry?'" said Cardenas. "I ask people in the industry, record executives, 'Where is the new talent?'"
"You have a Prince Royce on the up and up, but you can't name another up and coming artist, and that's a problem."
GIANT EXPECTATIONS: Despite a downtrodden economy, Cardenas has lofty goals for " GIGANT3S", a nationwide tour featuring Marc Anthony, Chayanne and Marco Antonio Solis set to kickoff Aug. 3 at American Airlines Arena in Miami. "This [tour] is going to work because of the quality of the production and promotion being put into it."
Cardenas guarantees plenty of interaction among the three stars and interchanging of material, giving the tour a "different feel."
"Marc will be singing Chayanne's songs, Chayanne will be doing Marco's songs and Marco Antonio will be singing some of Marc's material," he promised.
The band letting loose during their performance. (Photo: Michael Seto)