Justo Betancourt

b. 6 December 1940, La Marina, Matanzas, Cuba. Inspiraciones is a fundamental part of salsa. Betancourt’s lyrical spontaneity, creativity and ability to sing in many styles, from slow boleros to fast scorchers, has made him a singers’ singer. Betancourt began singing at the age of 11 with a small group called Cabeza de Perros. The name was inspired by the beer sponsor. He sang in the popular Guaguanco Matancero group at 16 years old. Conjunto Club recorded the 1958 single “Para Gozar Cubita” on the Fama label. He left Cuba in 1964 and spent eight months living in Greece before moving to New York. He was a band leader and timbales player Orlando Marin, and he appeared on Top 10 Esta En Algo (1967), on the Fiesta label. Two weeks later, he sang with Johnny Pacheco, the band leader and flutist, before becoming a singer with Sonora Matancera. He also performed with Ray Barretto and Alfonso Salines, among others. Betancourt was signed to Fania Records in 1968. Although his debut album was El Explosivo he was not very popular until Los Dinamicos (1971), a collaboration between Pacheco and his 1972 Pa Bravo Yo that he recorded, was his first. Betancourt’s 1972 album, the title track, was a huge hit and is now a classic. He moved to Puerto Rico in 1972 and quickly became a star. Borincuba was his band, which he named Borincuba after the mix of Puerto Rican and Cuban musicians. He was the lead singer on only two albums with Borincuba: Distinto Y Diferente (1977), and Presencia (1978). (1978). Betancourt’s temperament and rough temper caused problems when a Cuban band leader was doing well in Puerto Rico. Tito Rojas (borincuba’s coro) singer became the lead vocalist for Con Amor (1978), which Betancourt directed and sang coro. Rojas left Conjunto Borincano to go solo. After a brief series of albums, he was promoted to lead singer of the band Puerto Rican Power. He also appeared on their first two albums (1987-1989). Rojas returned to solo singing in 1990 with Sensual, a salsa romantica album that reached number one in the Farandula hit parade. Except for one track on Tito Puente and Celia Cruz’s Homenaje A Beny More Volume. Betancourt did not release any records between 1983-89, except for one track on Celia Cruz and Tito Puente’s Homenaje A Beny More Vol. 3. Regresar, his own RMQ record, was released in 1990. Eric Figueroa produced, directed, and wrote half of the arrangements. Betancourt has recorded and performed with the Fania All Stars, and has been a session singer. Allmusic

Leave a Comment