Once upon a time, Joe Bataan reigned as the King of Latin Soul.
Spanish Harlem — also known as “El Barrio” — was his kingdom. It’s where he learned to sing doo-wop harmonies on street corners and play clave, the syncopated beat that forms the base of Afro-Cuban music.
It’s also where the young Bataan got into trouble with the law. By the age of 15, he had joined a gang and spent time in a reformatory. Barely an adult, he was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing a car.
But music was his saving grace.