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Francisco Antonio "Tony" Calá
intrumento/instrument: voz/voice; violín; bailador
grupos/groups: NG La Banda, Ritmo Oriental
grabaciones/recordings: todo de NG, mucho de Ritmo Oriental
lugar de nacimiento/birthplace: Los Hoyos - Santiago de Cuba
formación musical/musical background: como un bailador en Santiago
lugar actual de residencia/current residence: La Habana
Of the groups which led directly to the Timba revolution, perhaps only Los Van Van was more important than Ritmo Oriental, a fiery charanga/songo ensemble with a great stage show and an arsenal of bloques which still holds its own with the most sophisticated Timba groups. In addition to its own musical legacy, Ritmo Oriental was also the starting place for two of the most important figures in the development of Timba -- David Calzado and Tony Calá.
Tony Calá was born on the other side of the island, the "Oriente", in a barrio known as Loy Hoyos, which was legendary for producing great dancers, and it was as a dancer that he first made his way to La Habana. Ritmo Oriental featured a violin section which was required to execute elaborate dance routines and that was Tony's first gig, but it soon became apparent that he had not only a distinctive and original vocal style, but was also a good songwriter. He wrote or co-wrote a number of songs for Ritmo Oriental, although he never wrote for his next band, NG La Banda.
NG La Banda was the first Timba band, and it was Tony Calá who sang "La Protesta de los Chivos", arguably the very first Timba hit. During the golden years of NG, Tony cranked out dozens of hits: Por que tú sufres, Rap de la muerta, Santa Palabra, No se puede tapar el sol...on and on. NG has featured a long line of great singers: Issac, Mena, Tirso, etc., but Tony Calá, still with the band, is the voice most closely associated with the NG legend. [Kevin Moore]