Barreras, Rodolfo

Rodolfo Barreras, arguably one of the best, and most sought after songwriters in Puerto Rico, was born on 25 November 1957 in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, the son of a cinematographer and actress. His interest in music dated back to his youth and studies at the Sagrado Corazon University, from which he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science. Known as “Nava”, a nickname given to him by one of his teachers, his talents extend to singing as well.

Although Barreras started composing songs when he was only seven years old, it was during his university years that he realized his talents as guitarist, singer and songwriter would be well received and rewarded. His first notable songs were written in the late 1970’s. Barreras set off to convince Wilkins, one of the better known singers at that time, that he could write a great song for him. Barreras got the chance he sought and composed “A Quién Vas a Engañar”, a hit for Wilkins in 1979.

His new found recognition brought him more work, composing “Al Ritmo de la Fantasia” and “Cambiando” for Yolandita Monge the next year and “Se Acabó el Amor” for Charytin, soon afterwards (1984), which was used as the theme music for a popular soap opera on Puerto Rican television: “Cuando es culpable el amor”.

In 1987, Barreras formed his own rock band, “Hola”, which toured the United States. Barreras and his band sang rock songs in Spanish throughout many college campuses as part of a project to sponsored by US Department of Education, to teach Spanish in the United States.

On his return home, Barreras launched Mazara Nava in 1990, a project that produced an an album featuring hit songs Espíritu Libre and “Si Tú Supieras,” later recorded by Pedro Fernández, bringing him international critical acclaim. The experimental project was unique at a time when rock music in Spanish had little support on the commerical airwaves.

But the talented songwriter was in great demand and also worked by composing for such notable artists as Ednita Nazario and Elvis Crespo, and many, many others. Among, his songs for Olga Tañon, which she recorded as merengues, were originally written as plenas, a popular genre of music that is native to Puerto Rico. “Es Mentiroso”, one of his many songs performed by Tañon, was used in the movie “Men With Guns”, extending his career achievements to the movie industry.

In 1999, he produced “Plena maestra” for Angel Luis Torruellas, affording Barreras an opportunity to experiment further with native rhythms. It also set the stage for compositions that would mix plena with jazz, blues merengue, and other styles. These bore fruit the next year when Barreras produced his own album, using his stage name, Nava, as the title. Nava was released in 2000 and featured his hit single song, “El Amor los Tres.”

The talented artist has composed more three thousand songs and has garnered three ASCAP awards in three different categories: ballads, salsa, and merengue.


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Nava (2000)