Inside: A list of Tito Puente quotes, along with suggested books and a biography.
Tito Puente, known as “The King of Latin Jazz,” created groundbreaking music by fusing Latin sounds with jazz and big-band styles. He formed the Tito Puente Orchestra and is considered a musical legend. From the New York Times,
“To fans like the hundreds who have lined up for two days outside an Upper West Side funeral home to mourn Tito Puente, he was ”the Mambo King,” ”the King of Latin Jazz” and ”El Rey del Timbal.” But Mr. Puente, who died Wednesday at 77, was as much a symbol of New York City as the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty.“
In this post, we’ll take a look at Puente’s life and I’ll share some resources for learning more about him in the classroom.
If you are here specifically looking for Tito Puente quotes, click here to jump to that section!
Here’s an index of what’s included in the post. You can click on any link to jump straight to that section!
- Tito Puente Biography
- Links and Printables to Learn More
- Tito Puente Books
- YouTube Videos
- 6 Quotes from Tito Puente
Tito Puente Biography
Tito Puente was born in Spanish Harlem in New York to Puerto Rican parents, in 1923. His musical talent was obvious from childhood, starting with piano as his first instrument. By 13, he was performing as a professional musician.
After serving in the Navy during WWII. in 1945, Puente studied music at Juilliard in New York City. By 1948 he formed a band that quickly became famous, the Tito Puente Orchestra.
In the 1950’s and the following decades, Puente released popular albums that mixed a variety of styles and musical rhythms. He become popularly known at the king of mambo music, El Rey.
Puente published over 100 albums in his career and died at the age of 77.
- 5 Grammys
- Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
- Key to New York City
Interesting Facts about Tito Puente for Kids
Tito Puente’s parents were not musicians. As a seven-year-old, however, he spent so much time drumming on pots and other objects in his house that the neighbors complained. They convinced his mother to get him real music lessons.
Although Tito Puente’s first music lessons were piano, he loved percussion and began playing the drums at age 10. He and his sister formed a duo song-and-dance act, and he began to play professionally at 13.
Printables and links to learn more
- Free printable Tito Puente coloring page.
- One page reading biography passage in English with questions.
- Monica Brown has a PDF resource to go with her book Tito Puente, Mambo King, linked to below. (The pack includes some exploration of instruments, music, writing, and a timeline of Tito Puente’s life).
You also might be interested in my sets of biography slides and project templates for learning about Latinx and Spanish-Speaking leaders, plus a free guessing game.
Tito Puente Books
These links are affiliate links.
Videos About Tito Puente
Tito Puente performing together with Celia Cruz:
Tito Puente as a guest on Sesame Street (3min 27s):
A full Tito Puente biography (1hr):
A short Tito Puente biography in Spanish (2min 14s):
6 TiTo Puente Quotes
“A lot of the young Puerto Rican musicians developed a lot of good Cuban-style playing. As I grew older I became a big band leader [and] then I catered to all kinds of people, but I really played Cuban music– which I still play, because that’s the good dance music: the mambo, the guaguancó, the cha-cha-chá, the guajira, all that kind of music.”– Tito Puente, A Conversation with the King
“My mother put me to study immediately because they saw that I had a lot of talent musically, and they put me to study piano.”– Tito Puente, A Conversation with the King
“When I was growing up, my parents insisted that we speak Spanish and read Spanish. I’m so happy they did that, because we developed their culture and their roots.”– Tito Puente, A Conversation with the King
I hope these ideas and resources were helpful to you! If you have more ideas for resources or lessons, let me know in the comments below!
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