A panel of Puente’s closest colleagues will discuss his impact on American music and explore his percussion prowess.
The Center for Puerto Rican Studies (CENTRO) will host the panel “El Rey del Timbal: Tito Puente Centennial Celebration” at Hostos Community College’s Repertory Theatre on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, at 4 p.m. The event will feature Tito Puente’s closest friends, collaborators, and lifelong colleagues.

Attendees will hear from panelists Aurora Flores (musician, journalist), Nicky Marrero (percussionist), Oreste Abrantes (percussionist), Frankie Morales (musician), and Joe Conzo, Sr. (historian, publicist, and confidant), who will serve as the event’s Master of Ceremonies.

“We’re delighted to host such a wonderful event at our College. Hostos has been a proud supporter of the efforts to preserve and continue the legacy of Tito Puente. I’m pleased to continue to do so for many years to come,” said Hostos President Daisy Cocco De Filippis. 

April 20, 2023, would have been El Rey del Timbal’s 100th birthday. Just a day before the anniversary of his birth, this conversation will highlight his impact on the American music scene and explore the variety of music he produced across genres. Born in 1923 to Puerto Rican parents in Spanish Harlem, Puente lived in a house filled with Caribbean music that undoubtedly influenced his style. He showed an interest in drumming at an early age, and it blossomed in the 1940s when he joined the Machito Orchestra. After serving in World War II, he returned to New York and studied at the Julliard School of Music. Once he graduated, Puente formed his own band in 1948, marking the beginning of a legendary career.

He received five Grammy Awards during his lifetime, as well as a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. Among other honors, he also received honorary degrees, the National Medal of the Arts in 1997, and the Key to New York City in 1969. Tito Puente’s legacy was also celebrated with a Google doodle as part of the Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations on October 11, 2022.

“This is a celebration of an absolute legend, Tito Puente, who inspired and uplifted many musicians for decades. The history of Latin music globally is what it is thanks to him,” shared CENTRO Director of Arts and Culture Ángel Antonio Ruiz Laboy.

After the panel discussion, a reception with light refreshments and music will follow at the C-building lobby, next to the Tito Puente Legacy Project exhibit.
About Eugenio María de Hostos Community College

Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities for over half a century. Since 1968, Hostos has been a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs.

Hostos offers 28 associate degree programs and three certificate programs that facilitate secure transfer to The City University of New York’s (CUNY) four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of CUNY, the nation’s leading urban public university, which serves more than 500,000 students at 25 colleges.        
If you would like more information, please email Ivano Leoncavallo, Director of Communications (ileoncavallo@hostos.cuny.edu). 
About the Center for Puerto Rican Studies (CENTRO)

The Center for Puerto Rican Studies (CENTRO) at Hunter College, CUNY is a research institute dedicated to the study and interpretation of the Puerto Rican experience in the United States that produces and disseminates relevant interdisciplinary research. CENTRO also collects, preserves, and provides access to library and archival resources documenting Puerto Rican history and culture. We seek to link scholarship to social action and policy debates and contribute to the betterment of our community and enrichment of Puerto Rican Studies.