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Dioris Valladares (b. Isidro Valladares Mejías) was a Dominican singer, composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, and bandleader who was an active participant in the Afro-Caribbean music scene -- which we identify today as "salsa" -- in New York City since the 1940s. He is considered one of the pioneering vocalists of Dominican merengue. Dioris was born on August 16, 1916 in San Pedro de Macorís to Pedro Valladares Martínez and Mercedes Mejías. In 1936, along with his sister Milagro, he sailed from Cuidad Trujillo (Santo Domingo) to New York City to reconnect with his mother and siblings who were living in East Harlem. He began his career in 1939 singing with numerous rumba orchestras that toured throughout the United States. By 1941, Dioris had made his recording debut for Decca Records in New York with Alberto Iznaga y su orquesta Siboney interpreting a full array of Afro-Cuban tunes including “Negro azabache,” “Que siga la rumba,” “El velorio de macuto,” and “Aguzate.” He was adept at interpreting Cuban popular songs and rhythms such as the rumba, bolero, son, mambo, and guaracha, all of which contributed to his masterful delivery of merengues later in his career. [Ansonia founder Ralph] Pérez hired Dioris to record with the recently formed Ángel Viloria y su Conjunto Típico Cibaeño in 1953. In his time with Ángel Viloria, Dioris rose to prominence for his interpretations of timeless Dominican merengues such as “A lo oscuro.” He became a household name, which afforded him the opportunity to start his own group [Dioris Valladares con su Conjunto Típico]. For the next two decades, he would enjoy continued success as a vocalist and bandleader in New York City, forming part of the nascent salsa movement during his time with Al Santiago’s Alegre Records. He remained active until the mid to late 1970s when he would semi-retire for the remainder of his career until his death on July 26, 2001.

-Jhensen Ortiz

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