What Does Fania Records Have To Do With Art Basel Miami?

Nov 28, 2012

The musicians of Fania Records include Celia Cruz, Hector Lavoe, Ruben Blades and Ismael Miranda.
Credit Fania Records

The legendary salsa label hosts a free music and art event at PAX in Little Havana during Art Basel Wednesday, Dec.5 through Saturday, Dec. 8.

Fania Records, which some call the "Motown of salsa," has a music catalogue that includes Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Hector Lavoe, Willie Colon and the super group of salsa artists known as The Fania All-Stars. The label was created in the 1960s in New York City; it is now based in Miami.

This is Fania's first Art Basel event. "Armada Fania" will present DJs playing both original music inspired by Fania artists, as well as music sampling the Fania tropical salsa and "boogaloo" sounds.  The DJs were selected because of their reputations for using Fania sounds in their music. Michael Rucker is chief marketing officer at Fania:

We embrace the whole notion of what's happening today as far as sampling, DJs and remixes because it's relevant.  We think anytime this music is being introduced to a new audience, we see an opportunity.

Fania All-Stars perform the song "Anacaona" 

The DJs are from Miami, Boston, and New York. Rucker says the Basel event will give European tourists a true taste of Miami: "It would be different if we were bringing in electronic DJs from Europe for these tourists from Europe. We want to give people that flavor of Miami-- salsa, boogaloo, Latin and funk music-- that local flavor. "

PAX is a performing arts space in Little Havana that has featured Latin and world music artists for the past year and half, which is why it was chosen for the Fania event.

PAX founder Roxanne Scalia is proud that many nominees for the 2012 Latin Grammies have performed at on stage at PAX, including Ana Tijoux from Chile, Los Mesoneros from Venezuela and Gaby Moreno from Guatemala.

On the Fania and Basel connection, Scalia says

Art Basel is an international event. We're in Miami and so to have a very Latin presence in that mix is important to me. Music is art and Fania has one of the best line ups of Latin artists in the world, so yes I think it's completely appropriate to an international art event to have a Latin-constructed presence.

A projector will screen original Fania covers, and artist Santiago will paint live during the event.

Will there be dancing? "We plan on having visitors dancing the whole time," says Rucker. "If they're not dancing, we're not doing our job."