Growing Up Latino With Salsa Sensation Victor Manuelle


Isabela’s own, Victor Manuelle, comes from a long line of salsa greats, and was discovered by the “El Caballero de la Salsa,” Gilberto Santa Rosa. Known by his fans as “El Sonero de la Juventud,” the Bronx-born star focused on dedicating himself to the genre, racking up some great accolades and collaborations that lead him to be one of the greatest salsa composers of our generation.

In his latest project “Que Suenen Los Tambores,” we see Manuelle gives fans their dose of love songs and celebratory tracks, but he also lets fans in a little deeper into his life as he dedicates the song “Algo Le Pasa a Mi Héroe” to his father, who has been battling with Alzheimer’s. Since he was impacted by his father’s illness, he’s advocated to raise awareness in all his shows and live performances.

READ: Growing Up Latino With ‘Broad City’s Arturo Castro

Recently, Manuelle teamed up with HBO Latino to give fans the full experience of his “Que Suenen Los Tambores” tour in his land of Puerto Rico. Set to air on Nov. 18, this special feature shows Victor performing his new songs as well as the fan favorites that have kept him relevant since his first album, Justo a Tiempo, which released in 1993. Get to know more about what it was like for Manuelle to grow up Latino.

“Yo vivo donde otros vacacionan”. Amanecer en mi ISLA.

A photo posted by Víctor Manuelle (@victormanuelleonline) on

Unforgettable childhood memory:
Christmas parties in my house. My dad with his guitar playing music, my mom cooking and I was the oldest sibling in my house, so I would see my younger siblings running around. I’d be singing some Hector Lavoe songs or Christmas songs. Christmas has always been a memorable time.

Favorite home cooked meal:
I have to say my mom’s beans. Papi used to make a mean octopus stew. I would have to say, though, rice and chicken that my grandmother would make.

Craziest Hispanic proverb told by mami or abuela:
Te lo dije! Whenever you did something wrong it was Te Lo Dije! Sometimes they’d talk in syllables with their chancla: Te! Lo! Di! Je!

Che Guevara moment/ greatest moment of rebellion:
It was a moment in high school. There was a problem I had with a teacher that I took to the principal. I organized everything and told the principal how the teacher was being disrespectful. That’s when I felt like Che Guevara—like a leader.

#VictorManuelle #VM #TeamVM #NY #NewYork #RadioCityMusicHall @radiocitymusichall 🗽?? @thecommissionpresents | 📸@albikonmediavision

A photo posted by Víctor Manuelle (@victormanuelleonline) on

I first saw myself as a Latino when…
I feel that I’ve always felt Latino. I think when I left Puerto Rico and did a set somewhere else I really felt like, “Wow I’m representing the Latin culture, the language, salsa.” It was really when I went to a non-Spanish speaking country. When I went to Colombia or Peru, they all understood, but when I did a set in Japan, tt made me feel like I had a responsibility to push my culture.

READ: Growing Up Latino With Lin-Manuel Miranda

La Chupacabra o el Cuco:
El Cuco, haha, la chupacabra came later. El Cuco was who put fear in us.

Favorite poor man’s meal:
Chinese food but not from a fancy restaurant. I like the ones you go to where you can get the combos. When I feel like I want to eat something that’s not so healthy, it’ll have to be Chinese food.

What was your household cure-all:
My mom would use Vick’s for everything. If you had a cough she would use Vick’s, if you had a bruise, Vick’s. Everything was Vick’s. If your eyes hurt, she would put Vick’s in your eye. [Laughs]

Salsa, bachata or reggaeton:

What was your telenovela guilty pleasure:
I used to watch one with my mom I forgot the name. My mom used to watch Betty La Fea.

Historical hero or heroine:
In Puerto Rico, I would say Pedro Albizu Campos. But in sports, I would consider Tito Trinidad as a hero.

Life mantra:
My dad would always say, “If your worries have remedies why cry? And if they don’t, why cry?” I don’t see anything as too big in my life. There’s nothing like losing a family member, but if nothing like that is happening and you have health, then everything else will resolve itself.