The late music impresario Ralph Mercado, whose worldwide introduction of the popular New York music known as “salsa” single handedly transformed the Latin music industry, and who launched the careers of powerhouses Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Marc Anthony, La India, Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri and many others, will be honored posthumously at a Tribute and Memoriam Breakfast where his wife, Mrs. Cynthia Mercado, will be presented with a New York State Senate Proclamation by Sen. Pedro Espada, Jr. (D-Bronx). A Who’s Who in the Latin music industry has been invited to attend the tribute, which will take place 9 a.m., Wednesday, April 8, 2009, in the community center at Soundview Health Center, 731 White Plains Road in the Bronx.
Mr. Mercado, who was of Puerto Rican and Dominican ancestry, played a dominant role in the development of Latin music and evolution of Latin-jazz, salsa, merengue, bachata and tropical music. Promoter, manager and producer of Latin music events throughout the world, his business empire included a record label (RMM), publishing company and video and film production company. He injected new energy into salsa with powerful percussion and brass lines, recognizing the surging Latin population and their purchasing power. He was one of the first to bring Latin music concerts to radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Center’s Avery Fischer Hall, Beacon Theater and Madison Square Garden. His efforts in bringing Latin music mainstream and global gave birth to the Latin Grammy Awards.
“Ralph Mercado, a person of humble beginnings who learned to dance the merengue in the hallway of a fifth-floor tenement where he lived with his family, rose to the top through hard work, dedication and a passion for the rhythms of his ancestral roots,” said Sen. Pedro Espada, Jr. (D-Bronx), who serves as Vice President of the Senate for Urban Policy and Planning.
“He was a pioneer and visionary who single handedly transformed the Latin music industry by being the first promoter to bring, at the time, little-known ‘salsa’ music to Africa, South America, Asia and Israel. He staged global Latin music events whose innovative concepts of promotion, performance and touring became the industry standard-bearer,” Sen. Espada said.
The Senate Proclamation, introduced by Sen. Espada and adopted by the legislative body on March 17th, resolves that the Senate pause from its deliberation to “…mourn the death of Ralph Mercado Jr., the impresario who took salsa music from New York City to the world.”
Mr. Mercado passed away on March 10, 2009 after a two-year battle with cancer.