Since a young age, Ralph Mercado had been in love with Latin music. Being first-generation to United States soil, he was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, where he started throwing dance parties in the mid-1950's as a teenager.
His parents were of Puerto Rican and Domincan descent, and he was the youngest of 6 children. He took great pride in being able to provide for his family since his father died suddenly when Ralph was only 16 years old.
Ralph Mercado had a dream that he pursued to ensure he didn't live a life of poverty. He enriched his mind and focused on achieving his goals. While working in the garment district he made connections and grew his crew steadily, promoting and producing small shows and dances, making his mark as a promoter of the music known worldwide today.
From the mid-1950's through the mid-2000's, Ralph Mercado was able to promote, present, book, manage, and executive produce numerous Latin music events, artists, recordings and bring the music to all corners of the world.
Working with some of the greatest musicians, singers and talent he helped to further rise their fame and fortunes. Notable artists such as Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri, Marc Anthony, La India, and many more were exposed to ever growing audiences and record sales.
He produced Latin music concerts at elite venues such as Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Beacon Theatre and Radio City Music Hall.
As his daughter, I'm very fortunate to be a part of Ralph Mercado's legacy and feel it is my duty to share some of His-story along my journey in this lifetime. Having worked by his side for a few years running production and manufacturing for the RMM record label and working on concerts and music videos for several of the artists, I have a few stories to tell.
In these early stages, this traveling Exhibit is small but the significance is BIG. The Mercado Project: The Man Behind The Music provides some behind-the-scenes insight, connecting with culture, wonderful dialogue, learning of new things, listening to some great music and dancing as much as possible.
I truly hope we are able to work together soon!
All the Best!
There's so much to know about the evolution of Latin music. The following is a just a little slice of a timeline. The Mercado Project: The Man Behind The Music is a journey through a significant 50 year span: touching upon the politics, the social life, the culture and the economics of it all.
It transcends the historic time period of the Salsa Explosion, from one of it's heaviest promotors, the legendary Ralph Mercado, through the eyes of his daughter Damaris.
Beyond the music, The Mercado Project: The Man Behind The Music highlights the passion, grit and perseverance of a visionary and pioneer, and the many examples of entrepreneurship of a man who took active steps towards “Making IT Happen”.
In 1972 Ralph Mercado Management (RMM) was born. The first major artists on the roster: Eddie Palmieri and Ray Barretto. Destined for huge growth, RMM soon took on the great task of management and booking for Celia Cruz and Tito Puente. RMM presented Latin music to the world including France, Africa, Germany, Israel, Japan, Spain, throughout the Americas. People were dancing around the world.
The RMM empire continued to evolve beyond management and booking. As the music packed nightclubs and the shows became bigger, a multi-genre record company called RMM Records & Video was born in 1987. This time RMM stood for Ritmo Mundo Musical (rhythm world musical). Eventually adding RMM Filmworks, it lived up to it's name and functioned as a multi-media player in the industry. Starting with Salsa, RMM Records label quickly expanded to include genres such as Merengue, Jazz, and Rock. With a heavy belief in A&R (artists and repertoire) and the global efforts of a team of talented individuals, the charge was to find talent and bring Latin music to people around the world long before social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and others existed.
Numerous artists and tremendous talent came through RMM's doors. Some established performers had been on the scene for a while yet seeking quality representation: Cheo Feliciano, Domingo Quinones, Jose Alberto, Ismael Miranda, Oscar D'Leon, Tito Nieves, Tony Vega, Fania All Stars and many more. Some were just starting their careers: Marc Anthony, La India, Manny Manuel, Miles Pena, New York Band and others. RMM also teamed with very talented writers such as Ricardo Vizuete, Omar Alfano, Shirley Marte and exclusive in-house producers and arrangers such as Sergio Jorge, Isidro Infante, Ricky Gonzalez to bring fresh sounds to the airwaves and dance floors.
Inspired by Ralph Mercado's legacy, Latin Music Month and The Mercado Project: The Man Behind The Music have been created to promote the history and the evolutionary journey of all genres of Latin music with the mission for musicians, artists, producers, arrangers, dj's, fans and party goers to come together and support one another. These are evolving projects ... It will take a village to make them happen!
Illustration of La Reina y La Princesa de la Salsa ... Celia Cruz & La India
A selection of pieces for display and conversation with Damaris L Mercado
A selection of pieces for display , discussion and moderated q&a with a few historians
A selection of pieces for display, discussion and live music performance by a trio or larger group.