Cuba-born but Florida-based vocalist and bandleader who christened the Miami Sound in salsa music during the 1970s and '80s.
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Willy Chirino Biography

by Craig Harris

Combining the musical traditions of Cuba with American rock and jazz, Cuba-born and South Florida-based vocalist and bandleader Willy Chirino helped to create the "Miami sound" of salsa music. The composer of more than 100 songs, Chirino's material has been covered by a lengthy list of artists including Raphael, Ricardo Montaner, Rocio Jurado, Celia Cruz, Oscar D'Leon, Angela Carrasco, Jorge Muniz, and Nydia Caro. Chirino's song "Soy" has been recorded by more than 60 artists, including the Gipsy Kings, whose interpretation sold more than four million copies. Chirino also composed and performed the theme songs for Spanish-language television soap operas La Zulianita and Pobre Diabla. Chirino has received numerous awards throughout his career. He was named King of Miami's Calle Ocho Festival in 1993. Two years later, a section of NW 17th Avenue in Miami was christened Willy Chirino Way. Chirino received a UNICEF award for his work for children via the Willy Chirino Foundation. In May 1989, Chirino opened a restaurant and night club, Zarabanda, in Coral Gables, Florida.

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