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Justo Betancourt


This critically acclaimed sonero was born in Matanzas, Cuba, and was raised singing: at age 11 he sang with a small-time band called Cabeza de Perros, and by 16 he was singing for the well-known Guaguanco Matancero. Like many Cuban musicians of his era, Justo Betancourt eventually made the journey north -- by way of Greece, of all places -- and settled in New York City, where he quickly plugged in with the fertile pre-salsa scene. He initially made his name working with Orlando Marin on 1967's Esta En Algo, which introduced his relaxed, summery voice to the world; he joined the venerable son act Sonora Matancera a year later. In 1968, Betancourt made his first solo foray with El Explosivo, which garnered him critical but not commercial success. Los Dinamicos, released in 1971, suffered the same fate, but in 1972 the stars aligned and Pa Bravo Yo's title track became a huge hit in the salsa community. Betancourt moved to Puerto Rico shortly after, founding a mixed Cuban and Puerto Rican band called Borincuba. The band released several well-received albums on Fania and helped launch Tito Rojas' solo career.

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