The Music of Puerto Rico: Rafael Antonio Nazario

Rafael Antonio Nazario’s debut CD ‘Patria Anorada’, released in 1999 was runaway hit. The reason behind this success is probably the emotional yearnings that come through and the bonding the young musician has with his homeland Puerto Rico which is visible, or rather audible to all who hear it. His music has been described as “Nuevo Latino” and “Nueva Salsa”. It is clearly inspired by his love for traditional music of Puerto Rico, like the salsa, plena and bomba. The CD also confirms his virtuosity as a pianist.

A–oro means to yearn in Spanish and Patria means country or homeland. Patria A–orada loosely translates as the ‘homeland I yearn for’ or as ‘longing for the homeland’. It is obvious that the album was a journey of discovery for the musician.

Rafael was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico but is parents moved to New Jersey when he was very young. The United States was the only home he knew and loved till the family returned with a reluctant Rafael to Puerto Rico. He felt an alien here, he always thought of himself as an American. He returned to the US for his college education and has traveled widely since.

He worked at several jobs before he finally started working seriously on his music. His exploration of the music of Puerto Rico came during his times of personal crises. It was then that he composed the ballads for the disc. The entire CD was recorded over three days at Mextli studios. It was finally completed and released, within six months of his starting work on the songs.

All the songs are original works, composed and arranged with a rare sensitivity. They soulfully reflect his personal experiences and his universal response to them. Rafael explores the ties that he cannot seem to break with his place of birth, Puerto Rico.
His second recently completed album is called ‘Sonador’ or Dreamer.

Rafael Antonio Nazario is a food and wine aficionado and has written a delightful book “Sand in Your Shoes”. Quite unlike any other cookbook this one has stories in English and Spanish interspersing the recipes.