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Antonio Cabán Vale (El Topo)

Singer, songwriter and poet, Antonio Cabán Vale, affectionately known as “El Topo”, was born on 22 November 1942 in the small town of Moca, on the western end of Puerto Rico.

He moved to Rio Piedras, in the metropolitan area of San Juan, in 1961, to pursue his studies at the University of Puerto Rico. It was there that Cabán Vale first became known as “El Topo” and where he published his first poems in a student literary review called “Guajana”.

In 1966 he graduated with a BA in arts and social science and began working as a teacher in the public school system. Wishing to touch people through his poetry, he began to write music during the 1970’s to reach more people. Cabán even formed a band called “Taoné” that performed his compositions of poetry as music. Cabán was also a performer in that group and gained valuable experience as a singer during that time.

As the “nueva canción” style washed over Puerto Rico, Cabán became a well noted composer. His simple yet inspirational verses enchanted listeners. Songs such as “Flor de amapola”, “Qué bonita luna”, and “Solina, Solina”, helped give impetus to the nueva canción style of popular music, as well as to his own career and fame as a composer. His romantic melodies such as “Canción de los amantes” were popularized in many different versions.

Cabán also composed in other genres with one of his most popular works being the danza partial Real Audio sound clip Verde Luz (lyrics). That composition is considered to be one of the most beautiful danzas ever composed. But “Verde Luz” goes beyond danza. The song has so reached the core of the Puerto Rican soul, it is also considered to be akin to a national anthem, alongside “Lamento Borincano” (lyrics), and “En mi Viejo San Juan” (lyrics), as the purest of national sentiments.

In the 1990’s, Cabán made over 20 recordings including La patria va and Un metro de ternura, which included the song “Amante corazón”, produced and directed by Manuel Tejada with the assistance of Juan Luis Guerra, internationally famous performer and composer of merengue and popular songs, from the Dominican Republic.

While Cabán is noted here for his extensive contributions to the music of Puerto Rico, he also published two books of poetry; “Un lugar fuera del tiempo” and “Penúltima salida”, to wide acclaim.

The impact of Cabán on Puerto Rico; its music and arts, should not be underestimated. Recently, he has collaborated with a young Puerto Rican band led by Adeán Cabán, and dedicated to performing Puerto Rican folk music. Consisting of guitars, cuatro, percussion and vocals, the group performs the typical genres of décima, plena, bomba, son, bolero, and fusions with other Caribbean genres such as reggae, vallenato, cumbia and merengue.

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Discography

Lo Que Mi Pueblo Atesora (1998)

En Bellas Artes Concierto (1996)

La Patria Va (----)

Un metro de ternura (----)