Salsa songs -- which evolved from Latin jazz and mambo -- come from one of the most popular styles of Latin music in the US. Characterized by the heavy use of percussion, the genre boasts numerous notable acts, such as Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Marc Anthony, and India. But it wasn't until Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine's 1985 release of 'Conga' that salsa hit mainstream audiences. Below are the best salsa songs.
Known to his fans as the "King of the Timbales," Tito Puente was an accomplished jazz musician, with his career spanning more than five decades. 'Ran Kan Kan' is off his 1951 album 'Babarabatiri.'
Puerto Rican conga player Ray Barretto was one of the members of the Latin jazz/salsa ensemble Fania All Stars. A much sought-after session player who has appeared on albums by the Rolling Stones, Dizzy Gillespie and the Bee Gees, among others, his song 'Indestructible' is the title cut from his critically acclaimed 1973 album. In 1999, he was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame.
Marc Anthony is one of the best-selling salsa artists of all time, having sold more than 10 million albums worldwide. 'Y Hubo Alguien' ("And It Was Somebody") -- from his 1997 'Contra La Corriente' album -- became his first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot Latin songs chart. 'Contra La Corriente' won a Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Performance.
Puerto Rican singer Frankie Ruiz played a major role in the resurgence of salsa's popularity in the '70s and '80s. The "Father of Salsa" had many hits, including 'Mirandote,' 'Desnudate Mujer' and this song, from his 1985 album 'Solista Pero No Solo.' After succumbing to AIDS in 1998, the city of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico named an auditorium after him.
Salsa music pioneer Willie Colon was one of the original members of renowned salsa band Fania All Stars. Hailed by critics as a masterpiece, this salsa song, with vocals by Hector Lavoe, was eventually re-interpreted by singer Victor Manuelle and reggaeton artist Tego Calderon. It's from Colon's 1970 album 'Cosa Nuestra.'
El Gran Combo are one of Puerto Rico's most enduring and successful bands. At the height of their popularity in the early '70s, they were offered a deal with Motown Records but opted to start their own label instead. 'Un Verano nn Nueva York' ("One Summer in New York") is from their 1975 album '7.'
Fania All Stars were a continually revolving ensemble act, created to showcase the leading singers and musicians of world-renowned salsa label Fania Records. Many of the artists on this list were at one time or another part of Fania All Stars -- best remembered for their unforgettable live shows, including their most famous one at Yankee Stadium in 1975.
After fronting several bands including Fania All Stars, Hector Lavoe went solo and scored a huge hit with this Ruben Blades-penned track. The Puerto Rican singer's tragic life inspired the film 'El Cantante' ("The Singer"), which featured Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez as the artist and his wife. This song is from his 1975 debut solo album, 'La Voz.'
Cuban icon Celia Cruz was dubbed the 'Queen of Salsa' and was known as much for her trademark catchphrase, 'Azucar' ("Sugar") as she was for her music. During her five-decade career, she won countless awards, including a National Medal of Arts presented to her by President Clinton in 1994. After her death in 2003, The National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. opened an exhibit celebrating her life and music. 'Quimbara' is from her 1974 album with Johnny Pacheco titled 'Celia & Johnny.'