Willy Chirino says artists should be politically active at Union City star dedication


Prominent salsa musician Willy Chirino said in an interview that artists and musicians are always warned not to wade into politics, but he believes that they have a responsibility to get involved.

“I think it’s just the opposite. An artist has the responsibility, who is able to reach so many people through interviews, music, TV, radio and books, has the responsibility to tell the story of their own people,” said Chirino.

The popular musician appeared the Celia Cruz Park Walk of Fame in Union City to receive an emblazoned star on the walk, joining the ranks of other prominent Latino musicians such as Tito Puente, Pedro Knight, Benny More and Jose Luis Rodriguez, among others.

Union Mayor City Brian Stack could not attend because he was participating in another event related to the celebration of Earth Day, but Emilio Del Valle enjoyed the honor of introducing Chirino to a large audience sardined in the Park.

“The star on the Walk of Fame was inaugurated in 2004 in memory of the late Celia Cruz, who we all know came to be known here in the United States as the Queen of Salsa,” recalled Del Valle.

“The recipient of the 2017 Star must have demonstrated over a significant period of time a rich musical tradition combined with a strong sense of civic, family and Latino pride.”

He continued, “It’s been said of this year’s winner that he has for some time and continues to pour his whole heart and soul into his music, community and family. His talented career spans over four decades with a long list of other awards and charity contributions for the Latino community.”

Chirino spoke in Spanish at the podium after being introduced, but we had the opportunity to ask him in the above Facebook Live interview the significance of his name on the Celia Cruz’s Walk of Fame.

“It’s very important to me in many ways. Celia was a friend and teacher to me and too all the Hispanic singers and Latino artists everywhere not only for her talents and music but as a human being,” Chirino noted.

“I had the honor and privilege to be able to work with her, I produced an album for her. Doing so was a teaching process, to learn how she managed her fame and career while keeping her feet on the ground. To have my name in this park means a lot to me.”

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