I first learned about Antonio Cartagena when his hit song Niña aired on KIQI Radio in San Francisco. What I didn't know was that he was a black man from Perú until I saw his picture posted on a billboard advertising his local performance. After his show, he stopped by the Salsa club 650 Howard (Boppers), where I used to hang out, to relax with members of his entourage. Being the Afrocentric Latin music lover that I am (see my post My Top 10 “Black” Latin Music Stars), I had to go over and shake his hand. Unlike most artists who make it big, he was very personable with the fans who took the time to greet him. At that time, my Spanish was not at the level it is now, so the producer, Pepe, who happened to be standing by was serving as our interpreter. There were other Afro-Peruvian members of his band who were curiously watching me dancing salsa and merengue and I only wished that my Spanish was better so I could engage them.
Antonio Cartagena was born in a poor Afro-Peruvian family in Callao, Perú and having attended the Peruvian National Police Academy and the University of San Martín (a school named in honor of an Afro-Peruvian priest canonized as a Saint by the Catholic Church, before focusing on his music and producing his first hit song "Sin Ti"
His romantic-style salsa hits, some of which were mixed with traditional Peruvian-style music, resulted his being contracted for tours in South America, North America, and Europ.before being signed onto a prestigious record label RMM headed by Ralph Mercado, one of the world's greatest salsa producers where he recorded his first international CD Díme Que Sí.