Black Events : Latin Soul Artist, Joe Bataan to Appear in the Bronx




Latin, R&B and Pop Legends Roundout a Musical Weekend

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts in the Bronx, is presenting a music weekend designed to satisfy the eclectic tastes of fans with Latin/Soul music styling by singer, Joe Bataan, who kicks off the weekend on Saturday, June 23rd at 8:00 p.m., when the soulful singer shares the stage with the Philadelphia sounds of Blue Magic. Blue Magic is known for “Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely,” “We’re on the Right Track,” and Look Me Up.” Joe who earned the moniker of “King of Latin Soul,” due to his blend of Latin, Jazz, Rap, R&B and Soul wrapped up in Latin beats and rhythms, considers himself an “Ordinary Man.” So much so, he made his song “Ordinary Man,” a hit as well as Subway Joe and Gypsy Woman which helped him crossover onto R&B music stations. Lastly, 9-time Grammy Award winner, Natalie Cole, will conclude the weekend musicfest on Sunday, June 24th at 7:00 pm.

Due to his eclectic music and his blending of Black and Latin tempos, many folks think that Joe Bataan, born Bataan Nitollano, is Latin. But Joe’s mother was African American and his father was Filipino.

“Back in the early 50s and 60s our mainstream of entertainment was radio. There wasn’t that much television and really not much black radio like there is today. I grew up in Spanish Harlem where I learned the Spanish language. I listened to all types of music. Whatever came on the radio dictated what I listened to,” stated Joe. “Early on, Frankie Lyman influenced me. Frankie’s high pitched voice started a fad. We hadn’t heard the likes of him before. Nat King Cole was one of the highest paid black artists at the time. Nat got airplay and the limelight along with Frank Sinatra and Patti Paige, so we were really proud of him” recalled Bataan.

As a young kid, Bataan stood on the street corners and harmonized using a style known as doo-wop. “I am proud of that part of my history because street corner harmonizing is a dying art form. Doo-wop was the only way we knew how to sing since many of us could not afford instruments, so we used our voices to emulate the sounds of instruments. “My song “Under the Street Lamp,” evolved from that era,” said Joe whose life experiences are reflected in many of his songs.

Joe Bataan is a self-made artist who taught himself the piano and really got into music during a period of his life when the streets called to him. Sometimes he responded in a wild and reckless fashion. This recklessness led him to a stint in a youth detention reformatory. “I honed my craft under the guidance of Juilliard student, Mark Francis, and continued to make music after I got out. I was still a youngster going to school when I recorded “Gypsy Woman.” Most of my fans were young kids. However, it was “Gypsy Woman” the radio stations picked up and then Joe Bataan was on his way,” stated the songwriter and producer. Even during the disco era, Joe was ready with his recording Clap-O-Rap-O, introducing back then, his own style of rap.

Joe Bataan became known for combining Latin music with Rhythm and Blues, Jazz, Salsa, boogaloo, mambo and pop, merging it in such a way it earned him the additional title of King of Latin Funk. In fact, he will be honored at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., because the Latino Center, Asian American Center and African American Center and Photo Gallery got together to do a gala event on October 19th to honor Mr. Bataan‘s 40 years in music as the rainbow man of musical cultures.

Accustomed to changing gears in life, Bataan disappeared off the musical scene for 20 years turning his attention to counseling youth swayed by crime. Knowing full well where that leads, Bataan put his complete focus into turning youth around via sharing his past life experience with crime. Like his music, this work became a passion, and Joe spent the next 20 years invested in it.

“My wife was unhappy with the music industry, so I got out of it to raise a family. I started working at age 40. I got a job at the Department of Juvenile Justice and became a Juvenile Counselor. Ironically, I returned to Spaford where I was detained as a youth, so I had the opportunity to give back. A lot of the kids were there due to heinous crimes they committed. It is depressing to think young kids are involved in crimes like that. In my youth, the neighborhoods looked out for us but today’s kids don’t have that. A lot of families are not staying together. Everyone is busy, so don’t dine together or communicate with each other. The spiritual aspect necessary to keep families together is lost,” said Bataan.

Joe returned to music in 1995, for a benefit performance at Hostos Community College. He released “Call My Name,” in 2005, and Under the Streetlamp Anthology 1967-72 in 2011. Interested parties can purchase tickets to Joe Bataan’s and Blue Magic’s concert on Saturday, June 23rd at 8:00 p.m., and Natalie Cole’s Sunday, June 24th performance at 7:00 pm, by calling the Lehman Center Box Office at 718-960-8833 or online at
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