The Lehman Center for the Performing Arts in the Bronx is presenting a music weekend designed to satisfy the eclectic tastes of fans with the Latin/soul music stylings of singer Joe Bataan, who kicks off the weekend on Saturday, June 23 at 8 p.m., when the soulful singer shares the stage with the Philadelphia sound 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.”
Bataan, who earned the moniker of “The King of Latin Soul” thanks to his blend of jazz, rap, R&B and soul with Latin beats and rhythms, considers himself an ordinary man–so much so that he made his song “Ordinary Man” a hit, as well as “Subway Joe” and “Gypsy Woman,” which helped him cross over onto R&B music stations.
Nine-time Grammy Award winner Natalie Cole will conclude the weekend music fest on Sunday, June 24 at 7 p.m.
Due to his eclectic music and his blend of Black and Latin tempos, many folks think Bataan, born Bataan Nitollano, is Latino. In fact, his mother was African-American and his father was Filipino.
As a young kid, Bataan stood on street corners and harmonized in the doo-wop style. “I am proud of that part of my history, because streetcorner 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, we used our voices to emulate the sounds of instruments,” he said.
“My song ‘Under the Streetlamp’ evolved from that era,” said Bataan, many of whose life experiences are reflected in his songs.
Bataan is a self-made artist who taught himself to play the piano and got deeply into music during a period of his life when the streets called to him and 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,” he said.
Bataan became known for combining Latin music with R&B, jazz, salsa, boogaloo, mambo and pop. He will be honored on Oct. 19 at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., because the Latino Center, Asian American Center and African American Center and Photo Gallery got together to sponsor a gala to honor his 40 years in music as the rainbow man of musical cultures.
Tickets to both of this weekend’s concerts can be purchased by calling the Lehman Center box office at (718) 960-8833 or visiting www.lehmancenter.org.