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Divino, Miranda, De Len perform at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Correspondent

Cleveland: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame kicked off its annual celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month with three outstanding Latino performers on Aug. 28, 2010. The free festival attracted more than 250 fans, who enjoyed performances by Ismael Miranda (salsa), Sammy De Len of Cleveland (salsa), and Divino (reggaetn).

Those visiting the Museum enjoyed a screening of PBS documentary, Chicano Rock! The Sounds of East Los Angeles. The documentary celebrates Mexican-Americans distinct contribution to music in the 1930s Los Angeles, and how the unique sounds defined cultural identity.

Daniel Velzquez, better known as Divino, said he was thrilled to be invited to perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and humbled to be in company of the legendary performers honored in the museum. Born in Bronx, New York he spent his teen years in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Divino began writing songs at 14 years of age and collaborated with his younger brother, Obed Velzquez, who distinguished himself as a reggaetn artist under the name K2Young. After K2Young was murdered at age 21, Divino returned to writing and composing and channeled his anger into refining his talent. Those who didnt know my brother will know him now, he said, and his song Una Lgrima, does just that.

For him, every melody and lyrics are inspired by emotions, I find myself sitting with my eyes closed, feeling the songs, and often acting them out, he said, adding his mission is for his fans to connect and relate to his work. I am not the kind of writer to have 40 songs, I want one good song, he said.

He has worked with many great artists and producers such as Daddy Yankee, Luny Tunes, and Ivy Queen and toured internationally in Spain and many Latin American countries.  While performing in Argentina in front of 64,000 people who knew all of his songs by heart, Divino realized he had made it. His focus now is giving back to the community and partnering with charities to raise awareness on breast cancer and bullying in high school.

His advice to aspiring artists is to look at rejection as an opportunity to improve, learn and never give up. He laughed, recalling his mothers pessimism, insisting he stay in school and even getting him a job as an assistant at a juvenile correctional institution.  

He is also beginning to work on a book which parallels how he and his mother channeled their grief, and seeking to inspire others who have lost a loved one to violence. The only certain thing in life is death; we should live prepared, be prepared to continue to live life as scheduled, he said.

Ismael Miranda, also a Puerto Rico native, was invited by the City of Cleveland. Local dance group Grupo Isla Del Encanto and Perlas del Caribe performed traditional Puerto Rican folkloric dance called plena & bomba, as well as bachata, reggaetn, merenge, tango, and hip-hop. Ohio Natural Gas and Key Bank sponsored the Latino Heritage fair.  

Throughout the United States, Hispanic Heritage Month begins Sept. 15, 2010.



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