Fernando Villalona: 50 years of music and “a long journey through a road with many barriers”

Fernando Villalona was declared the darling of the Dominican Republic since in 1971 he emerged as a popular singing talent. Since then 50 years of music have passed and “a long journey down a road with many barriers.”

The celebration of the fifty artistic life was during two nights at the Eduardo Brito National Theater, in a show produced by René Brea, and the company of several colleagues on stage.

“What to say about my 50 years in music? A long journey through a path with many barriers, where it is necessary to be strong to move forward and persist. I am infinitely grateful to each of those who gathered” at the National Theater, he commented. “El Mayimbe”, his most accepted nickname.

During the artistic show, the singer shared the stage with his brother Angelito Villalona, as well as with his colleagues Aex Bueno, Daniel Santacruz, Gabriel Pagan, Jandy Ventura and Chelsy Bautista.

“I have no words to express this joy that I feel and live,” Villalona said on his Instagram.

The two-and-a-half-hour show was a journey through all his successes, going from its beginnings in 1971, continuing with Los Hijos del Rey, until it reached the musical hits of his own orchestra, which have kept him in force for five decades.

“I have never felt as nervous as tonight,” Villalona said when he arrived on stage. And actually, at various times those nerves betrayed him.

A reinforced orchestra, made up of musicians of great experience, accompanied the Mayimbe on those significant nights.

Undoubtedly, the conceptual part of Brea in the arrangements with the musical performance of Ambiorix Francisco and Hendry Zarzuela became the essential shoe and the highlight of the production.

The repertoire of this artistic show was chosen “with a pinch”, since of the 246 songs that it has recorded throughout its musical history, 196 have been hits during these 50 years and it was logical that not all of them could fit.

“The only drawback we had with this show is that, being so many successes, it was difficult for us to choose the repertoire, but after many days of analysis, we managed to refine and we were able to select the best of what we have done in these 50 years”, Villalona expressed on the eve of his presentation.

+ Selected titles

“Harmonize”, “My people” and “Respect my pain” were his first songs, a long arsenal that he counted at 50, but in reality they were more due to the potpourri he put together.

There was also “Who turned off the light”, “I am the culprit”, “Tatico Henriquez”, “Tears for a memory”, “Amanejando”, “A miway”, a Christmas medley that included “Let me return”, “The rain ”,“ My people ”and“ Latin America ”.

He also sang “El gusto”, “La hamaquita”, “Felix Cumbé”, “El gusto”, “La cumbia merenguera”, “Sleepwalker”, “My life is you”, “I love you too much”, “My life is you “,” Quixote “,” Wild heart “and” I’m dying for you “.

One of the most emotional moments was the interpretation of the emblematic “Dominican I am”, voiced by him with the shield and the country’s flag in the background on a giant screen and on stage six members of the Dominican Navy as part of the visual, as well as the body of dancers.

However, “Baila en la calle” was the theme that lifted his fans from their seats at the National Theater. The immortal Luis Días composed that song and is part of Villalona’s vocal legacy.

50 years ago, on June 25, 1971 it was his debut at the Festival de la Voz, with the song ‘Lágrimas para un memoria’ (which was released in ballads by the Argentine Yaco Monti) “.

Villalona arrived in the capital sponsored by Viterbo de la Rosa, who in 1971 was the trustee of Loma de Cabrera and was the one who managed the request of the teacher Rafael Solano to represent them at the Festival de la Voz, which he organized.

The Palacio de Bellas Artes received the participants and from the first rounds Villalona marked the leader. His second participation was with the song “Habrá”.

Solano was the one who introduced him the final night. “So let’s give a big welcome to a son from Loma de Cabrera,” exclaimed the composer of “Por amor” and the 16-year-old boy dressed in black and with a hat appeared.

With the song “Tears for a memory” he participated in the final night of the contest, which was broadcast live on television, and obtained fifth place, which generated a wave of protests from the public attending Fine Arts, who understood the boy from Loma de Cabrera should have won first place.

The top position corresponded to Frank Valdez (now deceased), a native of Higüey, but representing Santo Domingo, who obtained 130 points (Villalona 124).

In Loma de Cabrera they received their son as a hero and from that sun until today he has been a great pride of his homeland.

After the contest, Rafael Solano recorded the songs “Tears for a memory” and “To forget about you” with the record company Cumbre Récords, by the communicator and composer Mundito Espinal (now deceased) and Solano himself.

The two recordings were successful and he put one more stone to the ground to support a career that grew in a meteoric way, as is rarely recorded in Dominican popular music.

+ Of his life and career

Nando, as he was called in his native Loma de Cabrera, where he was born on May 7, 1955, was unstoppable in his rise to popularity since he obtained that fifth place in the 1971 Voice Festival and years later became star of Los Hijos del Rey and hence to a crowd idol as a solo artist.

His voice slipped in with perfect coupling in different rhythms such as merengue, ballads, bolero, bachata and Christian music.

This rising popularity and the imbalance that it caused him embarked on a thousand and one situations of existential crisis, of life, of failures and weaknesses such as sex, alcohol and drugs.

The providence of life gave him a second chance and managed to cleanse his body of drugs and alcohol, poisoned candies on which he spent, it is said, about 50 million pesos.

That world of abysses also led him to lose an apartment, houses, vehicles, opportunities, land and other properties, as well as his own family, which he eventually recovered.

It also affected his artistic career. Had he been clean, he would have produced and sung better, in addition to signing more flattering contracts with the record labels that were always after his talent.

Anyway, in the end the important thing is the present that he enjoys recovered, with a clearly improving state of health, relieved by his new weight after practicing a bariatric surgery and in the safe arms of his Dulcinea.