Latin Grammy winner Vicente García was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, but as a teenager he was better versed in the music of Deftones and Rage Against the Machine than the Caribbean rhythms that earned him three Latin Grammys, including Best New Artist, last year.
It was a cover of a Juan Luis Guerra song that changed the trajectory of his career.
García is still unsure how the Dominican music legend came across the version, but Guerra was so impressed with García's cover that he invited the young singer on tour with him.
"After that tour, I wanted to start doing some bachata, bolero. That's how I started my solo career — looking to Dominican/Caribbean music for the first time."
A tour supporting Juanes followed, and García's interest in Dominican and Caribbean music grew. "I wanted to go deeper into the roots of Afro-Dominican culture," he says.
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His exploration resulted in the album A La Mar, the culmination of three years of traveling around the Caribbean to take in the rhythms and melodies of the region.
García teamed up with producer Eduardo Cabra, better known as Visitante of the Latin hip-hop band Calle 13, for the project. "I think it was really important to have [him], because he helped me conceptualize this album, to make it something more than a couple of songs trying to be folkloric. We wanted to do a pop album but based on Afro-Dominican or Afro-Caribbean music."
A La Mar earned García a Grammy for Best Singer-Songwriter Album. He'll take the album to the stage at 1306 Thursday, March 1, and Friday, March 2. Originally, only one show was scheduled, but it sold out, so a second one was added. The performance will mark the first time García will be backed by a full band in Miami, a city he is often asked to visit and one that is steeped in the musical traditions he set out to explore on the album.