A bite from the apple: New York.

Author:Sola, Vicki


Billy Carrión has released his first solo project titled Esta Fiesta. A veteran New York-born vocalist, Carrión relocated with his family, at the age of 5, to Mayagüez--a Puerto Rican city with a rich cultural heritage. Visits to his aunt Manuela's home ignited the youngster's musical interests when his uncle (Cheo Pérez, one of the city's most influential plena singer/songwriters), chose said domicile to conduct his group's weekly rehearsals.

By the age of sixteen, he was singing with Mayagüez's rock groups, winning the local title of "Best Rock Vocalist." Carrión ventured into pop music, receiving ah invitation to sing with Love Potion Number 9, a progressive group directed by Néstor Torres that featured such young talents as Jerry Medina, David Forestier, Abel Pérez, and Efraín Torres. Carrión became know as one of Mayagüez's best singers.

After joining pianist Andrew Ruiz's band, Carrión was afforded ah opportunity to showcase his vocal abilities (in Spanish and English) on WORA TV's "Carrusel de la Alegría," a show transmitted to Dominican audiences.

While continuing his activities with local musicians, Carrión managed to graduate from the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez, with dual degrees in sociology and psychology.

Through his friend Frankie Rivera, he met Argentinean pianist/arranger Oscar Galende, who introduced him to Brazilian music, jazz, and other genres. Galende utilized Carrión as main vocalist in his Jazz Club 888.

One evening, the San Juan club was visited by various Fania luminaries (Johnny Pacheco, Roberto Roena, Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez, Ismael

Miranda, and dancer/promoter Anibal Torres), all of whom were impressed with Carrión. Their praise increased the young man's confidence and interest in salsa.

Roberto Rivera asked Carrión to sing with his La Solución, along with Frankie Ruiz. La Rueda was at the top of the charts. Upon moving to New York (where his younger brother sang for Larry Harlow's orchestra), Carrión worked with Kako Bahasar, Conjunto La Clave, Alma Caliente, and La Fuerza, before he handled the lead vocals on Los Rodríguez's Que Tenga Sabor. ("Los Rodriguez" was a band led by the late trumpeter Roberto Rodríguez, and featured his sons Willie and Roberto, Jr.). Carrión became known as "the voice" on the hit tracks La Que Dice Una Mentira and Que Tenga Sabor.

Later on, Ray Barretto asked Carrión to join his orchestra. Singing alongside Rey Saba, Carrión performed with...

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