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Jacqueline Capó remembers her father Bobby Capó on his centenary

The experiences and memories that it treasures Jacqueline Capó about his father, the singer-songwriter Bobby Capó, emerge from her memory like pieces of treasure because, although they are her personal experiences as a daughter, they belong to the history of Puerto Rican popular music.

Today, January 1, 2022, it is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Bobby Capó. The coameño who one day left his town for San Juan with the dream of making music his life, but whose talent as a singer and composer ended up catapulting him into the world.

“My most beautiful memory of daddy is me, being a girl of about three or four, sitting at the piano with him playing the scales for him to vocalize. He vocalized every day and did yoga and exercises to strengthen his lung capacity. As I was the youngest and the only one who stayed at home, because the others went to school, and I already played the piano by ear, I played the scales “, recalls Jacqueline Capó, visual artist and singer. “In our home, music was always very present. My mom (Irma Nydia Vázquez) He was also a music lover, so listening to music was part of our life. When we moved to New York I was three years old. We were the three youngest in the house. The two oldest stayed in Puerto Rico and the oldest, a father’s son from a previous relationship, was in Vietnam. “

Jacqueline assures that there are many songs by her father that fascinate her, however she distinguishes and values ​​having witnessed the birth of the song that could well be considered another Puerto Rican anthem.

“I remember the whole process of writing and recording the album ‘Wake up borincano’ and when you first recorded ‘Dreaming of Puerto Rico’. I was six or seven years old and I lived it very closely because then, being in New York, my mother would take us out of the apartment on Sundays so that he could have time alone and when we returned, we had to listen to what he had composed during the week , and woe to whoever interrupted speaking at that moment ”, he narrates while describing the particular style that Bobby Capó had to compose.

“Daddy didn’t write music. He composed on the piano and recorded on a reel to reel recorder. He recorded himself singing the song and used another recorder if he wanted to add other elements and gave the tapes to the arranger. He would have us sing the choirs so that the arranger would know how the choir was going. So somewhere in the world there must be those recordings. I remember when he sang to us for the first time ‘Soñando con Puerto Rico’. The suggestion of that song, like many others, was given by my mother. Mommy told him that Noel estrada had composed ‘In my Old San Juan’ Y Rafael Hernandez, ‘Lovely’ and he had not composed a song to Puerto Rico. And then we were in New York and nostalgia surfaced ”.

Bobby Capó, however, did not do well with the album “Despierta borincano” which includes the song with that title and “Soñando con Puerto Rico”, among others. The eternal political controversy, which covers almost everything on the island, also splashed on him.

“That song and that record was recorded in New York in the early 1970s. The problem with the record is that it was branded a communist. It was the time when anything in Puerto Rico that highlighted national sentiment was branded communist. Daddy was very radical. He literally sang things to people the way he saw them. So he felt that the industries of Puerto Rico had fallen into the hands of the Cubans and that the Puerto Ricans were allowing that to happen. The thing is, he had nothing against Cubans, because he became an artist in Cuba and there he was an idol. The song ‘Despierta borincano’ was a call to be alert, to defend their own. The song is more current than ever ”, says Jacqueline Capó.

Other songs that Bobby Capó included on that album are “How good it is to be Borincano” and “Oh my Borinquen.”

Ironically, says the singer, when her father retired from the stage and went to work in New York as a public servant, there were people who interpreted that Bobby Capó had moved towards the statesman side. “But what he did was work so that the Puerto Ricans who came there could get a job and a house.”

A few years after the release of “Despierta borincano”, Jacqueline’s parents separated and she returned with her mother and siblings to Puerto Rico. From then on he would go to New York in summers to see his dad.

Throughout time and after the death of Bobby Capó in 1989, Jacqueline Capó has continued to discover her father’s compositions in the most curious ways.

“One of my favorite daddy songs is ‘The bard’. But after adulthood I have discovered more songs by my dad. I recently discovered one called ‘La Reason’ and I recorded it. It has a very complex lyrics and melody. Papi could go from the most banal to the most sublime in his compositions. The point is that he composed for many people and gave them cassettes with the songs sung by him. This is what he did with Ismael Rivera and with Cheo Feliciano. They recorded Johnny Ventura songs for him, like ‘Cocoon and Sorullo’; Oscar D’León, Cano Estremera and recently Gomba Jahbari he recorded ‘The tombs’ for him. You also have to see Raphael singing ‘Brownish skin’. Another song that I recently discovered is his is one titled ‘With my memories’”.

Although the expression that he who inherits it does not steal it sounds trite, in the case of Jacqueline Capó, fate had marked his musical path, although he evaded it in the first place.

“I adored him and was very attached to daddy, and he made me feel like he was proud of me, but he never heard me sing professionally. Out of rebellion I did not want to continue studying music and ended up studying fine arts, although I used to sing in musicals during college and I used to sing at home. Daddy was the first to pay me to sing, because I sang in the bathroom and if I felt that someone was listening to me on the other side of the door I would shut up. And it was daddy, who then passed me money under the door so that I could continue singing, “he recalls with a laugh.

Ironically, Jacqueline Capó did not begin her career as a professional singer until shortly after her father’s death. “What takes me out of anonymity is the Banco Popular special that was dedicated to daddy’s music. Until then I used to sing in the specials as a showgirl, but that’s when the audience saw me and the race took off ”. Since then, he has developed a career as a bolero, filin and bohemian interpreter and has participated in bolero festivals representing Puerto Rico, Cuba and Venezuela, among other countries. “As part of my repertoire I sing Daddy’s songs and it often happens that people know the songs, but they don’t imagine they are his.”

About that talent that is inherited, Jacqueline shares another example. “There is the closest thing to a son that I have which is my nephew Pedro (Hood), because he grew up at home. I am very happy and proud of his success, but at the same time I think how my father achieved that same international success without social networks and without the support of a multinational “.

Jacqueline says that the importance of Bobby Capó’s music becomes evident every year when the royalties for new recordings of his melodies arrive.

“They come from Australia, New Zealand, from all over Latin America. Last year in Spain the chorus of ‘Piel Canela’ was used for the campaign in favor of the use of the mask against COVID-19 ″.

To celebrate its centenary

As for the celebration of her father’s centenary, Jacqueline Capó assures that since last year she was planning a big event. However, precisely the pandemic led her to stop.

“When things calm down a bit with the pandemic, the plan I think is going to change to small presentations, around the island, which is more accessible to the public. The celebration will begin in Coamo, whose mayor I can only be grateful for, as he has been responsible for preserving the image of my father in the town and has supported me. They are not going to stop celebrating ”, he assures.

“One of the things that daddy felt is that in Puerto Rico he was not so loved, that he was more loved in New York, but 32 years after his death his music is still being recorded around the world. Papi was a poor, black boy from Coamo who achieved so much and so much worldwide and I am sorry that he died thinking that they did not want him, that they did not recognize his contributions. The only authorized biography that exists is the teacher’s book Victor Federico Torres, which precisely titled ‘The misunderstood’‘. When he began to write the book, the teacher shared details of Daddy’s life that I did not know, but I told him to write the truth, that things were not worth sugarcoating. My dad was not a saint, but he was a creative genius and his wanderings around the world shaped his work ”, he concluded.


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