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For his millions of fans, Gilberto Santa Rosa has always had a way with words

Understandably Santa Rosa has kept quiet on the subject. "I fall in love with my life more and more each day," he says when quizzed about his current, sentimental state of mind. "I have everything a man could want, and then some. There's nothing to complain about, to be perfectly honest with you."

Some critics, especially the print media, claim that Santa Rosa's way with words and his ability to say exactly what a woman wants to hear, rather than his vocal talents, are responsible for his considerable success -- thanks to self-explanatory favorites such as "Perdóname" ("Forgive Me") and "Vivir Sin Ella" ("Living Without Her"). But he doesn't feel his space is threatened by any of the new salseros on the block.

In fact he's gone out of his way to lend a helping hand. It was Santa Rosa who invited a young kid to sing with him during a high school graduation party in Isabella, Puerto Rico fifteen years ago. But rather than freeze up in stage fright, the kid showed the poise of an old pro, trading soneos (improvisational lyrics) with Santa Rosa.

Also known as "El Caballero de la Salsa," Gilberto Santa Rosa is a revered figure among his fans
Courtesy of SONY TROPICAL
Also known as "El Caballero de la Salsa," Gilberto Santa Rosa is a revered figure among his fans

Details

Tickets range from $50 to $90. Call 305-372-4633.
performs at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, February 26, at the James L. Knight Center, 400 SE 2nd Ave, Miami.

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The encounter left such an impression that several days later Santa Rosa called Don Perignon, who was starting up his own band and had room for another vocalist, to recommend the kid. Santa Rosa set up a meeting with Perignon and the kid, who was sent to the recording studio without an audition.

In 1993, Santa Rosa produced Justo a Tiempo (At the Right Time), the kid's first record. Today that prodigy runs neck-and-neck with Santa Rosa and is routinely mentioned as one of the top-tier soneros in recent memory. His name: Victor Manuelle.

"I'm not going to be one of those guys who is going to sit around feeling sorry for himself when the applause finally ceases," says Santa Rosa. "I view this as a journey, and no matter how much I would like to keep it going, the day is going to come when it all ends. But I can rest easy at night knowing that I've given a lot of people what they've wanted to hear and worked extremely hard doing it."

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