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Virgen Milagros Orta Rodríguez, (1959-11-28) November 28, 1959 (age 54), Santurce, Puerto Rico
Choco Orta (born Virgen Milagros Orta Rodriguez on November 28, 1959) is a Santurce, Puerto Rico born Latin/Tropical/Salsa singer, percussionist, dancer and actress, and is one of the most acclaimed Salsa performers of the 21st century, with successful performances throughout North America, Latin America, Europe & Africa. She is renowned internationally as "La Reina Del Sabor", distinction that was given to her by the eternal king of Latin music; Tito Puente.
Press Reporter Ben Ratlif, wrote on May 15, 2009 in the New York Times about Choco Orta: "The Puerto Rican Salsa singer Choco Orta has a rich laugh and a nail-gun voice on high notes; as a performer she's an outrageous flirt and an excellent improviser with a trademark tag line that somehow doesn't grow tiresome; Chocolocochón!"
Orta was born in the colorful Chicharo neighborhood of Santurce, Puerto Rico. She is the fourth child of five children born to Andrea Rodriguez and Tomas Orta. Tomas worked as a plumber, and Andrea as housewife, taking care of the family.
During Choco's early life in the late 1960s and early 1970s, she listened to many artists and musicians that later influenced her adult career as a singer, such as Ismael Rivera, Trio Los Panchos, Rolando La Serie, Tona La Negra, Vicentico Valdez, Ruth Fernández, Benny Moré, Celeste Mendoza and Barbra Streisand.
When Choco Orta was seven years old, she sang in public for the first time at her six grade graduation ceremony, at which she sang the tune "Campanitas De Cristal", written by her favorite composer; Rafael Hernández.
In the year 1973, Choco was invited by her dance teacher Antonio Pantojas, who also was an entertainer, to participate as a singer, dancer & comedian in his Show at the Bachelor Nightclub of San Juan, Puerto Rico, giving birth to her professional career as a performer.
As a Singer, Choco Orta's first paid gig as lead vocalist was with a group called Faustino & su Cuarteto from her home town neighborhood, el Chicharo.
In the year 1983, Choco went to a dance party at the famous nightclub Xanudu, where Quique & Papo Lucca's Sonora Ponceña was performing. Without knowing Papo Lucca personally, she practically begged him to let her sing a tune, Papo eventually allowed her to sing the classic Bolero "Nosotros." After Choco sang, famous musician & producer Gunda Merced approached her to congratulate her for her soulful interpretation and invited her to participate in a recording that he was producing at that time for a group called Salsa Fever.
As a vocalist of the group Salsa Fever, Choco traveled all over her native Puerto Rico, she also visited Cali, Colombia & Saint Croix for the first time.
In the year 1984, Choco was contacted by famous Puertorican comedian & film producer Jacobo Morales, who invited her to participate as an actress & percussionist in the comedy TV show "La Tiendita De La Esquina" (The Little Corner Store), which transmitted Monday to Friday at midday on WAPA TV, channel 4 of Puerto Rico, up to 1986.
In 1987, Choco Orta became part of the group known as "Las Bohemias" (The Bohemians), which was composed by 7 female multi-talented actresses; Georgina Borris, Sharon Riley, Claribel Medina, Giselle Solis, Taty Rodriguez, Esther Santiago and Choco. Las Bohemias performed a musical theater show all over the island featuring the Latin music of the 1950s and 1960s, in which Choco acted, danced, sang and played various percussion instruments.
In the year 1997, thanks to Gunda Merced, Choco was signed to a 5-year contract with renown Salsa record label Musical Production (MP) of Tony Moreno, and her first cd album "Sentimiento Y Sabor" (Felling & Taste) was released in 1998 with great success into the national and international tropical Latin markets.
Her second album entitled La Reina del Sabor (The Queen of Flavor), was received with great enthusiasm by Salsa fans all over the world and solidified her position as an international Salsa star, mostly in South America and Europe.
At the beginning of the year 2006, famous Salsa band leader Willie Rosario invited Choco Orta to participate in his production "La Banda Que Deleita" to sing the lead in the tune "Lo Que Mas Yo Quiero", in which Willie validated her as a Salsa star with a "Special Guest" participation on his album.
In the year 2009, international Salsa super star Gilberto Santa Rosa entrusted Choco with a new full musical production in his record label "Caminalo", with the production of the album Ahora Mismo, which consolidate's Choco as an international Latin star.
During the year 2010, Orta decided to start her own record label Chocolocochon Bolsillo Productions, to take control and give continuity to her musical career & also eventually produce other upcoming Latin artists. Her CD Choco Swing, produced under her company, came out in February 2011. Much of the recording and filming was done in Senegal. To date, it has been met with critical world acclaim.