This distinctive sound emerges from his upbringing in Puerto Rico, where he was influenced by the music of Ismael Rivera, Cheo Feliciano, and El Gran Combo. Manuelle got his first big break as a teenager when salsa legend Gilberto Santa Rosa heard him sing at a high school graduation party and recognized his natural talent. Now, after several more albums and more than 2 million records sold internationally, Manuelle is one of the world's top-selling salsa artists. South Florida audiences have a chance to check him out in his first Broward County performance Saturday.
The concert is part of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts' Tropical Nights Series, which was launched last year with legendary Puerto Rican showmen El Gran Combo celebrating their 40-year anniversary. The series reflects the changing demographics of Broward County, whose Latin population is currently composed of an equal mix of Cuban Americans and Puerto Ricans, as well as a recent influx of Colombians, Venezuelans, and Brazilians. But the series is not limited to Spanish-language music: "In light of the growing change in the community we wanted to bring acts that are not just Latin but a diverse selection of music from the tropics," explains Malena Mendez, community relations and special projects manager at the center. "We plan to have these events once a month, and so far our audiences represent a diverse cross section of concertgoers from the tricounty area."
Manuelle's concert is the first of the 2003 series; it will take place in the center's 2,700-seat Au-Rene Theater. The intimacy of the space is conducive to Manuelle's romantic lyrics and on-stage charisma, and the events are intimate and social. "The Tropical Nights Series events always begin with a party -- music, food, drinks, and live music on the Peck Courtyard," Mendez says. "We appeal to concertgoers who want to enjoy a performance, as opposed to the chaos of a large arena setting."