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Roy Brown, Extraordinary Musician from Puerto Rico

Profile of Roy Brown, one of Puerto Rico's most lyrical Nuefva Cancion musicians.

"Salsa is a formula, merengue is a formula. Nueva Cancion is a formula," says Roy Brown, the feisty Independentista whose music has often been labeled Nueva Cancion. "They create these marshmallow fillings in people. You write a song like that, you get on the radio. We refuse to fit into that formula. "

Back in his native Puerto Rico after 12 years in New York, Brown, 44, may not be topping the charts, but he's still singing his heart out after 20 years. Brown's topics include Puerto Rican independence, struggles in South Africa and Palestine, love and relationships, the environment...and settings for the great Spanish-language poets: Lorca, Neruda--and Puerto Rican poets such as Juan Antonio Corretjer. "His poetry is very musical. You read his poetry and you feel you know Puerto Rico better."

Brown's audience both in Puerto Rico and on the mainland continues to grow. "My audience is people who are discovering me now, and people who discovered me 20 years ago. Now in Puerto Rico a lot of people come to me and say 'I've never seen you before, I've always heard about you.'"

Brown expects eventually to be more well known, but is not putting faith in the media to take him there. "The community keeps in touch with culture through television and commercial radio stations, which are controlled by people who are not favorable to my views: that you have to have a strong cultural identity, you have to develop an artistic perspective, and a sense of independence and strength."

Brown's 10th album, "Balado de Otro Tiempo," features musicians he calls "among the best on their instruments in Puerto Rico." He continues to grow musically and politically. "I have a route that I decided I would follow when I was young, and I continue that road. And my songs still have a direction."

Written by Shel Horowitz (1989).

Shel Horowitz, Editor of Global Travel Review and owner of, is the author of the e-book, The Penny-Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook, and the creator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign.

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