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Curet Alonso, Tite

Catalino “Tite” Curet Alonso, was born on 12 Febuary 1926 in Guayama and raised in the Barrio Obrero section of Santurce. His father was a Spanish teacher and a musician with the orchestra of Simón Madera.

In 1968 he began his career as a professional songwriter with the song La Tirana, a tune recorded by Lupe Victoria Yoli, better known “La Lupe”. La Lupe brought international fame to the song and Curet went on to become an internationally respected composer, musicologist, and journalist.

He continued writing romantic themes and dance tunes that would be recorded a who’s-who of Latin American artists such as the Fania All-Stars, Tito Rodriguez, Olga Guillot, Chucho Avellanet, Lucesita Benitez, Elena Burke, Cheo Feliciano, Rafael Cortijo, Ismael Miranda, Roberto Llanes, Ismael Rivera, Miguilito Valdes, Jose Luis Monero, Joe Valle, Sophy, Danny Rivera, Vicentico Valdes, Tommy Olivencia, Ruben Blades, Willie Colon, Hector Lavoe, and Frankie Ruiz.

Curet Alonso’s music has won countless awards at international music festivals in countries like Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia and Paraguay and he has gained recognition as Puerto Rico’s best composer. He was named best Latin American composer for two consecutive years by the Record World Magazine, but perhaps most telling is the sheer popularity among so many great performers and music fans of all age groups.

Curet set himself the enviviable task of writing songs in many, musically diverse genres, such as the famous bolero, Tiemblas, here sung by Gilberto Santa Rosa. But he proved himself equally adept at writing salsa as a Puerto Rican danza. His compositions were steeped in native Puerto Rican musical styles and themes but they have paid off well for many singers known for interpreting non-Puerto Rican musical genres.

Curiously enough, Curet worked for the United States Postal Service for more than three decades, although he has also worked as a journalist, in addition to his composing. His compositions can also be heard in other media besides music recordings and concerts. His compositions have been featured in musical scores of films such as Spanish director Pedro Almodovar’s “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” and United States film-maker Francis Ford Coppola’s “Godfather II” and others.

Curet has also been heard on Broadway. He spent four months helping Paul Simon research the music for Simon’s short-lived Broadway musical The Capeman, starring Puerto Rican artists Marc Anthony and Ednita Nazario. But Curet insists that Simon was only interested in adding a slight Latin tint to his own sound, rather than engaging in co-composing which would have given the production an authentic Afro-Latin sound.

It would be a mistake to think that Curet’s popularity, especially with young audiences, mean that he music was in any superficial, mass-markets appeasements. He composed provacative pieces that often used satire or political commentary on significant issues. The musical traditions of bomba, plena and Puerto Rican folkloric music, were often vehicles for socio-political statements such as “Plantacion Adentro”, made famous by Rubén Blades, and “La Tiraña” sung by La Lupe. In the first case, Curet lambasted the old world colonialists that killed off the indegenous population by slave labor. In the second, he derided male cupidty and chauvanism.

This unique exponent of salsa and the music of Puerto Rico passed away on 5 August 2003 in Baltimore, MD, USA, due to respiratory failure after being hospitalized in April, 2003.

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