A Conversation with Living Legend Eddie Palmieri [Video]

Cultural Roots:

Eddie Palmieri has stayed firmly rooted in his Afro-Puerto Rican culture. This isn’t something he talked about out loud and he might not even think about it. But his cultural roots are clear in everything he said, has done and is doing in his life.

He is fully bilingual, and peppers either language with words or expressions that only work in one or the other. This isn’t exactly Spanglish – it is English with flavor and Spanish with precision. For example, he never referred to his group of musicians as a “band” – they are a “conjunto” which very specifically conveys unity of purpose and togetherness, and if you’ve ever listened to any of his music, you know that cohesion is crucial to his sound, particularly given the extremely complex rhythms that arise from the Afro-Caribbean roots of his music coupled with the Jazz element as well.

The fact that his main avenue of communication is Latin music clearly has made the bilingual skills essential. But I suspect that if he could have grown up to follow any family business – insurance, auto repair, cuisine, the law, medicine or dry cleaners – he would have maintained his cultural roots and been the richer for it – both literally and figuratively.

Eddie’s Lesson: Be unapologetically who you are. You don’t have to bend to anyone’s expectations of who or what you should be. Be proud to be Latino, and make that a part of your life because it will allow you to be a whole person, and a whole person resonates positively with people – they can feel it, they can see it.

Questions Unasked:

Mr. Palmieri very graciously went past the time limit for our interview, but to respect his busy schedule I had to leave many questions unasked. I’m impressed by how he’s managed to survive the success he has experienced. Failure can be sad, but success can be fatal too. He managed to survive a life on the road, a highly competitive business environment and I’m guessing countless temptations.

His accolades include the Grammies, recognition by the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress, numerous awards, a Yale University Chubb Fellowship and the Latin Grammy’s Lifetime Achievement award. With all of that he kept his head on his shoulders, his ethic of hard work, his devotion to family and his humility perfectly intact. While I’m sure there must have been ups and downs (he is human, after all), given all his accolades such as the Grammies he remains a fun, affable, warm, down to earth guy and I suspect it could only have been a very strong family background and support structure around him that kept him on track.

Author’s Lesson from Eddie: Stay humble. Be yourself. Prepare. Enjoy your work. Relish your family. Pay it forward. Download and enjoy Eddie Palmieri’s music whenever you have a chance at www.palmierimusic.com.

Final thoughts:

Eddie’s Lesson: Every practitioner of any art or science might desire to focus solely on what they do, but music is a business like any other, and all small business owners need to make sure to stay on top of their local, state and federal taxes and follow all employment laws. This isn’t something you can play around with.

Hear the podcast version of this article: Eddie Palmieri [podcast]

Editor’s note: Many thanks to Tomas Algarin an Independent Music Professional and President of MBA Associates (Music Business Artists) – Tomas Algarin is a respected latin music historian, educator, writer, radio producer, and stage performer/concert Emcee. Since 2006, Tomas has served as a Latin Jazz/Salsa music consultant and concert host for the Rialto Series, featuring the best of national and international jazz, world music and dance at Georgia State University’s Rialto Center for the Arts in Atlanta.

Tomas’ “Latin Aura”–Atlanta’s premiere Latin Jazz, Afro-Cuban Jazz and Salsa music program— made its debut at WCLK 91.9FM Atlanta in March 1983. Tomas served as the program’s original producer/bilingual on-air personality from 1983 to 1988. In 1998, he returned to WCLK as the on-air host/producer of “Latin Aura” until the program’s final broadcast in April 2006 after a run of 23 years on-the-air. 

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Carlos Garcia
Carlos Garciahttp://www.garciaresearchops.com
Carlos E. Garcia, was born to Mexican immigrant parents, grew up in East Los Angeles and attended Pomona College, UC Berkeley and National University (BA, MA and MBA respectively).  He has over thirty years of experience in the field of US Hispanic consumer research, twenty one years at the helm of his own company, Garcia Research.  Most recently  SVP at GfK: Knowledge Networks, where he headed up their Hispanic research efforts. He's gone full circle and now back at the helm of Garcia Research, a Hispanic market and Multicultural-focused research firm. Website

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