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Odilio González, “El Jibarito de Lares,” was born in Lares in 1937. He began singing at a young age with his father, who would play the Puerto Rican cuatro and sing during family events and religious holidays such as the Three Kings Day. At age thirteen he performed in a radio competition called Aficionados arecibeños, hosted by Nadal Barreto, and won the first prize. More importantly, Nadal Barreto gave him a recommendation letter that would allow him to audition in Rafael Quiñones Vidal’s prestigious radio program for aficionados aired on WNEL. There, Odilio once again won the first prize. This had a major impact on Odilio’s career; by the mid 1950s, he would perform on Quiñones Vidal’s television show “Tribuna del Arte,” thus becoming one among many Puerto Rican artists who owed their success, in part, to Quiñones Vidal’s support. There, yet again, Odilio won first prize, this time consisting of $25, a significant amount of money considering that he had been paid $3 for his performance in Nadal Barreto’s show. Performing on television led Odilio to be hired by Cuarteto Marcano, with whom he performed at Teatro Puerto Rico in New York in 1958. In fact, it was the director of the band, Pedro “Piquito” Marcano, who dubbed him “El Jibarito de Lares.” According to Miguel López Ortiz, from the Fundación Nacional para la Cultura Popular, it was Marcano who introduced Odilio to Ansonia Records founder Rafael “Ralph” Pérez. Between 1960 and 1962, Odilio would release three albums with the Ansonia: “Ni de madera son buenas,” “El jibarito de Lares, Vol 2.,” and “Ecos del pasado.”

-Dr. Mario Cancel Bigay

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