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Famous AfroBoricua: 'Ruth Fernandez'

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  • multiracialbookclub
    Ruth Fernández [Ruth Fernández] [Ruth Fernández]
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 2006

      Ruth Fernández

      Ruth Fernández

      Ruth Fernández

      Early life

      Ruth Fernández (born May 23, 1919 in Ponce , Puerto Rico)
      is a singer who according to the "Comisiones Nacionales para la
      Celebración del Quinto Centenario" (National Commission for
      the Celebration of the Fifth Centennial) is said to be one of three
      artists whose contributions have helped "unite Latin America ".

      Ruth's mother died when she was three years old and she was
      raised along with her four other siblings by her grandmother.
      She received her primary and secondary education in her hometown.
      As a child she learned to play the piano and was
      very active in her school and community's activities.
      In high school she organized her own musical group.
      She became a professional singer at the age of
      14 when she would go to the local radio stations,
      WPRP and WPAB, and sing for 50 cents a day.
      In 1935, when she was 16 years old, she was heard by Mingo,
      a bandleader of a locally popular band and was hired.
      She then performed in nightclubs, dances and casinos.

      Rise to stardom

      Ruth started to gain popularity and in 1941, was
      signed by Columbia Records with whom she recorded
      her first hit song, "Cuando Vuelvas" (When you return) .

      Her first appearance in New York
      was in 'The Latin Theater'  of New York .

      There the Master of Ceremonies, Hector del Villar,
      introduced her as "El Alma de Puerto Rico hecha
      cancion" (The Soul of Puerto Rico made song).

      That nickname or introduction was to stay with her forever.

      When Ruth returned to the island, she
      enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico
      with the intention of becoming a social worker.
      However, she once again joined Mingo and his
      band, the "Whoopee Kids" and toured with them
      throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America .

      Ruth was the very first successful "black"
      female Puerto Rican singer, and as such,
      she broke color barriers and stereotypes.

      On one occasion the Mingo band was contracted
      to perform in the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel.

      The director of the orchestra told her that according
      to the hotel's rules, she had to enter through
      the kitchen door like all other "
      black" musicians
      (a de facto integration rule, illegal at the time
      in Puerto Rico , but still in place at the time out
      of concern for American patrons of the hotel).
      Ruth however, did not follow the instructions
      and entered through the main entrance.
      She went on stage and performed
      before the astonished audience.

      During World War II and the Korean War,
      she traveled overseas to entertain the soldiers.

      When she returned to Puerto Rico , she decided to go solo.

      In 1954, Ruth participated in the first televised
      musical television show in the history of
      Puerto Rico "El Show Libby's".

      She also had many other "firsts", she was the first
      woman to sing in a Puerto Rican orchestra;
      the first Puerto Rican woman to sing "popular" music
      at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City';
      the first Latina singer of romantic music to sing
      in the Scandinavian countries and the first
      Latina to record with a North American band.

      Ruth sang in the United States and was
      transmitted coast to coast when she was
      contracted by a network of CBS radio stations.
      She also performed at Carnegie Hall of New York .

      Among the many countries in which she has
      performed are Italy , France , Spain , Norway ,
      Venezuela , Mexico , Panama and Cuba .

      She received many awards and
      recognitions througout her career.

      Political life

      She was elected into the  Senate  of Puerto Rico,
      representing the district of Ponce as a member
      of the Partido Popular de Puerto Rico
      (Popular Democratic Pasrty of Puerto Rico).

      As a legislaturer she sought many reforms and
      better working conditions for the artistic class.

      In 1990, she was selected by Imagen (Image) magazine
      as one the ten most powerful women in Puerto Rico .

      Ruth Fernández later retired from all political
      activities and at times works with the House
      of the Puerto Rican Artist organization.

      SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Fernandez 

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