Artist Interview: Manny Cepeda Orchestra (Classic Salsa Band)
Tell us about yourself and your music
I hail from San Juan, Puerto Rico where I got my education in the famous “Escuela Libre de Musica” (Free School of Music), where some of the best Puerto Rican musicians were trained. After that I attended the Pablo Casals Conservatory of Music in Puerto Rico and won a scholarship to attend the “Interlochen Music Camp” in Traverse City Michigan. From there I received a full scholarship to Illinois State University where I got my Bachelors in Music Education and Masters in Music Degrees. I joined the US Navy Band in 1973 and retired as the top Enlisted Bandmaster after 31 year of service. My retired rank was Command Master Chief Musician. Upon retiring in 2004 I started my own Salsa Band and became the #1 Classic Salsa Band in San Diego, California.
Talk to us more about your latest release
My latest CD release is called “Padre Querido” dedicated to my father, also a former musician and barber! The genre I’m submitting my CD for a Latin Grammy will be “Salsa/Fusion” because my compositions and arrangements are a fusion of the many rhythms I learned and worked in my trips as a bandleader with the US Navy Band to the Caribbean, South America, African Continent and Europe. Most of my songs have a Salsa foundation but they also incorporate other rhythms too. A perfect example of this is my single release which combines hard Salsa and Mariachi music in the same song. The harmonies I use both vocals and instrumental are rich and powerful. You’ll get to hear the single and I’ll have you hooked within the first 5 seconds of the song! That’s how powerful the song and the arrangement are!
What inspired you to write this release?
When I came to San Diego, California as the Director of the Navy Band I met a lot of Southern California Musicians who gave me the inspiration to compose this song. As a tribute to them I added the authentic Mexican Zapatio theme that is known worldwide as true Mexican folkloric music.
Any plans to release a video?
I plan to schedule 4 or 5 different releases, 3 in San Diego, 1 in Escondido and 1 in Los Angeles. I offered the single to my fans as a free download and the response has been amazing. I now need help in getting the word out to the masses that a new sound with energy is about to hit them very strong!
Any plans to hit the road?
I’m ready!!! I’ve been an Indie musician for many years because of being employed by the US Navy Band. Now I’ve finished my contract with them and I am available to travel if you have a plane or a RV!!!!
As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
As an indie artist, I’m a triple threat! I sing/play, compose and arrange my music. I don’t have to wait for someone else to write my arrangements, I can sing the lead parts of all my songs, play and direct the band at the same time. I’ve seen few famous bandleader who can do that in today’s music.
Who have you been listening to lately?
I listen to Marc Anthony, Tito Nieves, and a lot of the Rock/Pop musicians like The Eagles, Earth Wind and Fire and any band that uses brass instruments in their performance. My knowledge of music arranging allows me to add horns to songs that never had them giving me an edge over most bandleaders.
Tell us about your passions
Besides music; Entertainment, promotion, Web Design, and Running. All those things maintains me in good shape both mentally and physically.
What else is happening next in your world?
I’m shooting for “A Latin Grammy.” There’s no better place to show your colors as a holder of one of the top accolades of music. I know my music is unique in every respect. I know there are few musicians out there who can do it all and do it well. I’m that kind of person and musician. I also see me composing for film and commercial that need spyce in their presentation. I do have a soft side of me and I have actually published a choral work but where my fire is, it comes from hard Latin Salsa with rich brass lines and impressive choruses!
Thanks for an awesome interview, Manny!