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Ricky Martin: Profile
July 30, 1999
Copyright © 1999 THE PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.
Ricky Martin, U.S. pop music's hottest new star, has been a
household name in Puerto Rico and throughout the Spanish speaking
world for almost a decade.
"He's already huge everywhere else," Joanna Ifrah,
Martin's A&R director at Columbia, told Rollingstone,
"but no one had heard of him here."
Ricky Martin's performance at the Grammy Awards in February
changed the way American audiences view Latin music. Pentagon
City Mall employees, outside Washington D.C., have noted the difference.
"I've always liked Latin music," Mike Miller, assistant
manager of Sun Coast Motion Pictures, commented, "even before
this Latin music craze." This is a "craze" that
has taken the mainland by storm. "His good looks are a major
asset," The Wall music store employee, in the same mall,
Rossette Kasem said, "I don't think he would sell if he wasn't
so good looking and couldn't dance."
Christopher John Farley wrote for Time magazine, "Puerto
Rico is where it starts. It is an island inhabited by the descendants
of black slaves and Spanish conquistadors; here cultures collided,
rhythms intermingled, and salsa emerged, inspired by Africa and
Europe, and by New York City."
Puerto Rico is also where Enrique Jose Martin Morales started.
He was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico December 24, 1971. Ricky
Martin had always wanted to be a star. He joined the Puerto Rican
singing group Menudo when he was 12 years old. As a member of
the young pop group, he made his initial claims to fame. Traveling
the world, from Italy to Japan, he received a hands-on education
Menudo is also how many people first identify with the young
artist. When Martin's name emerged last February, an employee
of the Sam Goody music store realized they were referring to a
former member of Menudo. "Usually young artists are washed
up by now," Tracey Sahr commented. "He has overcome
the odds, but I don't know how he did it."
Ricky Martin's ambitions were not only to sing, but to act
as well. After leaving Menudo, he starred in a Mexican soap opera.
In the mid-90's he acted in daytime TV's General Hospital. Ricky
Martin also appeared on Broadway in Les Miserables. He has released
five CD's since 1991. He released Ricky Martin (Spanish)
in 1991 and has now gone on to release Ricky Martin (English)
This multi-talented artist has become a force to be reckoned
with. It is especially difficult for businesses to ignore the
selling power of Ricky Martin with his enthusiastic fans screaming
and making known not only his physical presence but his economic
prowess as well. Ricky Martin is now the spokesperson for Puerto
Ricky Martin recently said, "It is very important for
me to stay close to my culture- I am doing it in English because
it's all about communicating. This is the communicating business.
I've done it in Portuguese, I've done it in French... I'm having
a really good time once again, [but] I'm not going to stop singing
His fans in Puerto Rico are applauding. "I love Ricky
Martin because he is wonderful," Norma Morales said, "As
a Puerto Rican, I am proud of our Ricky." Morales also commented
on the influence that Martin still has in his home-town. "I
like that Ricky sings in other languages, I know this opens more
doors for him... the change of language (in his album) hasn't
affected him in Puerto Rico." His nickname among friends
and family is "Kiki". He has two older brothers, two
younger step-brothers and a younger step-sister. He is also involved
in several charities in Puerto Rico, such as SER (an organization
to help people with physical limitations) and Centro Sor Isolina
Ferrè (a community center in Ponce and San Juan, to promote
education and community involvement).
Ricky Martin's success in the mainland United States was followed
up by the release of an English language CD on May 18. Fifteen
years ago, he didn't speak English, now he is capturing hearts
with it. Because Martin crossed the language barrier, non-Hispanic
fans are more willing to embrace his music. "He's a sexy
man," Ashley Sadler, from Detroit Michigan said. "I
saw him on General Hospital and I liked him." But Sadler
hasn't been interested in buying Martin's Spanish CD's. "I
don't speak Spanish, I don't think I could handle it."
This reservation is not prevalent among fans though: sales
of his Spanish CD Vuelve increased after the Grammy Awards
by 500 percent. It also helps that Ricky Martin is currently single;
this is another aspect of his image that makes his fans go wild.
Ricky Martin has crossed many barriers with his use of multi-lingual
lyrics. He has been able to reach a market that now spans the
globe. Once Ricky Martin became a household name for non-Hispanic
Americans, his music took on a more universal message: although
you may not understand the lyrics, you can still dance to it...
and "Kiki" does.