Musical Talent of Bobby Valentin
Born on June 9, 1941, in Orocovis, Puerto Rico, Roberto “Bobby” Valentin showed an interest in music at a young age. His father taught him to play the guitar and as the guitarist and singer in a musical trio he won his first prize in a local talent contest at the age of eleven. By then his mother had passed away and Valentin was living with his older sister in the Puerto Rican town of Coamo where he completed his primary education.
One of his teachers, recognizing his musical talent and potential, suggested that he attend the José I. Quintón Academy of Music located in the town. Valentin attended the academy which was named in honor of Puerto Rican composer and pianist, José Ignacio Quintón (February 1, 1881 – December 19, 1925), and there he learned to play the trumpet. Valentin and his family moved to New York City in 1956, where he continued to develop his musical talent through lessons, while at the same time attending the George Washington High School.
He played in a band with Joe Quijano for a time, but then joined fellow Puerto Rican musician and composer Willie Rosario. Valentin became part of the orchestra of Tito Rodriguez in 1963 and traveled with the orchestra to perform in Venezuela on two occasions. Tito Rodriguez was also born in Puerto Rico and became a popular singer and bandleader in the 1950s and 1960s. Valentin collaborated on musical arrangements for Rodriguez, as well as Ray Barretto, Willie Rosario, Joe Quijano and Charlie Palmieri. By 1965, Valentin has formed his own band, clinching a contract with Fania Records and recording Young Man With A Horn and El Mensajero.
All this time the trumpet had been Valentin’s musical instrument of choice, but in 1969 while playing in Puerto Rico, the bass player in the band didn’t arrive for a performance. Finding someone else to play the trumpet for the performance, Valentin played the bass. This was a turning point in his career, with the bass guitar becoming his favorite instrument and his road to even greater recognition for his musical talent. He has accompanied various musicians on his base guitar, including Raphy Leavitt and Willie Rosario, and has also been involved in album production and musical arrangements.
In 1975, he broke away from Fania Records and founded Bronco Records. It was with Valentin’s band that Puerto Rican salsa singer Marvin Santiago recorded Soy Boricua, which has become a patriotic song for many Puerto Ricans. Moreover, Puerto Rican salsa singer Cano Estremera made his debut. Other notable artists Bobby Valentin has worked with include Ismael Miranda, Larry Harlow, Roberto Roena, Celia Cruz and Cheo Feliciano. Bobby Valentin continues to perform and record, with his latest disc Evolución being released in 2008.