Víctor Manuel Ruiz (born September 27, 1968 in The Bronx, New York City), known professionally as Víctor Manuelle, is a successful Latin Grammy nominated American-born Puerto Rican salsa singer, songwriter, and improvisational son singer, known to his fans as El Sonero de la Juventud ("The Singer Of Youths"). He is identified primarily with salsa romantica or "salsa monga", but has also experimented with styles ranging from Colombian vallenato to reggaeton. Unlike other salsa performers such as Marc Anthony, he has neither recorded in English, nor made a Latin pop album, nor (with rare exceptions) ventured into acting, preferring to remain a musician grounded within salsa music. He is currently tied with Marc Anthony for the most number-one singles in the Billboard Tropical Songs chart.
Discovery and early career:
Although born in The New York City borough of The Bronx, Victor was raised primarily in Isabela, Puerto Rico. Growing up in Puerto Rico had a great impact on his youth as he enjoyed salsa music (which was immensely popular in Puerto Rico at the time). His singing career began because of Gilberto Santa Rosa, during a concert at his high school's graduation party by salsa superstar. At the instigation of classmates, who were going on about their friend the sonero, Santa Rosa invited Victor to jump up on stage and sing a song with him. To Santa Rosa's surprise, not only could Victor sing, but he "free-styled" the improvisational soneo lyrics in the song, and traded soneos with Santa Rosa. Shortly thereafter, on Santa Rosa's recommendation, Puerto Rican bandleader Don Periñon hired teenage Victor as a backup singer. During these years of apprenticeship he performed with numerous
Víctor Manuelle has become one of the best-selling salsa performers of recent years, with his albums selling a combined 1 million-plus copies in the U.S. Three studio albums, 1999's Inconfundible ("Unmistakable"), 2001's Instinto Y Deseo ("Instinct and Desire") and 2004's Travesía ("Crossover"), have cracked Billboard's overall Top 200 Albums chart, and the latter two reached #1 on the Latin Album chart (Inconfundible reached #2). Interestingly, while several of his singles have made the Top 5 or Top 10 on the Latin charts, he had to wait for 2004's Tengo Ganas ("I'm in the Mood") to score a Billboard #1 Latin hit.
Perhaps his moment of greatest visibility came when he, to the happy surprise of the attendees, sang an a cappella version of Celia Cruz's signature song, La Vida Es Un Carnaval ("Life is a Carnival"), at her funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York in July 2003. This scene was replayed numerous times in the ensuing days on Spanish-language television. A few months before, he had performed the song for Miss Cruz, with full orchestra, at a televised tribute concert for her, the last one at which she ever performed on stage. (When he recorded his live album at Carnegie Hall in late 2004, his closing number was another rousing rendition of La Vida Es Un Carnaval.) In 2008 he was approach by the Diva of Puerto Rico Yolandita Monge to do a duet in the album "Mala". The song is called "Oportunidad Perdida."
Victor's most recent production was released in May 2009. However, on this disc, not all of his songs have to do with topics of "LOVE", "INFIDELITY", etc. Nonetheless, it does include various interludes where he explains the meaning of songs related to his personal life, which is why the album is called; "Muy Personal"(Very Personal)
Manuelle released his 10th studio album, Decisión Unánime ("Unanimous Decision"), in May 2006. Six months earlier, in November 2005, he and his mentor, Gilberto Santa Rosa, released a joint live album, Dos Soneros, Una Historia ("Two Soneros, One History"), recorded at Coliseo Roberto Clemente outside San Juan, Puerto Rico. Manuelle's own live album, Víctor Manuelle En Vivo: Desde El Carnegie Hall, came out in early 2005.
He served as co-host of the 7th annual Latin Grammy awards show, held November 2, 2006, in New York.
Manuelle's first foray into movie acting was his cameo role (mostly singing) as salsa legend Rubén Blades in El Cantante, the 2007 film biography of Héctor Lavoe, starring Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. On June 10, 2008, Manuelle released the album Soy ("I am). He was one of several artists selected to perform at the "KQ Live Concert" on September 27, 2008, organized by KQ 105 FM. The event included several renowned artists from Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries.
On February 8, 2010 television network Univision announced international singer Ana Bárbara and Víctor Manuelle as the hosts of the 2010 Premio Lo Nuestro Awards. The ceremony will take place live from Miami, Florida on February 18, 2010.
Víctor Manuelle is a divorced father of three (two girls and a boy), who says he prefers to spend his free time with his children and family, and playing pick-up basketball. He is reportedly known to his family by the nickname Binky. He was raised in "El Callejon California" in Isabela. He loved playing baseball and basketball as a kid, he was a very loving sweet kid. His father Victor inherited a tradition of "Parrandas" from an elderly neighbor (Melo Torres) in "El Callejon California", and thus every year on Christmas the tradition was continued. Binky as a child was encouraged by his father Victor, to sing during these "parrandas", which ultimately gave him the skill of improvisation.
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