Río Negro - Latin Music at It's Finest


Latin Percussion

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Río Negro - Latin Music at It's Finest

Band History

The story of Río Negro began on the campus of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia where Broderick Santiago, Kevin "Quino" Johnson, and Melvin Jones were all students. The year was 1999. One evening that fall semester, Broderick attended a meeting in Sale Hall. After the meeting, he watched Kevin approach the stage and begin practicing a montuno (a distinctly Latin piano riff). Naturally, Broderick approached the stage and enthusiastically mentioned to Kevin that he played Latin percussion. So began Río Negro.

Originally named "1867" in honor of the founding year of Morehouse College, the group eventually changed its name to Río Negro in order to reflect the founders' love for Latin music. Río Negro means "Black River" in Spanish. The group's first performance was on September 21st, Kevin's birthday, on the steps of Kilgore Hall for a popular student event called "Underground Live". In fact, Kevin, who played trumpet in the college jazz band, had just bought a new Yamaha keyboard for the gig. He figured that piano was a more promising instrument for him than the trumpet. Besides, Kevin and Broderick later drafted Melvin Jones, a gifted presidential music scholar to be a part of the band. That cold night the musicians knew they had something.

As members of the Morehouse College Jazz band, Kevin and Melvin had access to a plethora of gigs that would help propel the band to a new level. An encouraging band director made sure to pass along all gigs that would come his way to the young musicians. The first of such gigs was a performance for Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta. As the band performed around the city, more and more performance opportunities arose. Since then, the group has been moving ahead at full speed.

Río Negro recently played for President Bill Clinton and national political dignitaries. The fundraiser included guests Nancy Pelosi, Rep. John Lewis, former CEO of Home Depot and Atlanta Falcon's owner Arthur Blank, Rep. Steny Hoyer and others. In the words of President Clinton himself: "You all sound great!" Thanks, Mr. President.

»  Lackawanna Blues, the HBO hit movie, featured Río Negro percussionist, Broderick Santiago, on the soundtrack.

»  Río Negro's next album will be released in 2019.

Río Negro has been quite busy. We enjoy performing for our fans and organizations. Check out some recent major performances below.

>  Aqua Vino - The Georgia Aquarium's Annual Fundraiser - Atlanta, Georgia

>  Atlanta Medical Hospital Health Fair - Atlanta, Georgia

>  Harvest Midtown Festival - Atlanta, Georgia

>  The Annual GRACE Awards - Georgia Restaurant Association - Atlanta, Georgia

>  Atlanta Jazz Festival - Atlanta, Georgia

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