In the coming decades Salsa continued to grow and evolve as a form of extension and connection to home. In order to better serve its growing and widely diverse audience the bands added new instruments.
Willie Colón introduced the cuatro, a rural Puerto Rican guitar. More executive decisions were made, such as the adding of an electric piano by the arranger of La Fania, Larry Harlow.
Another by-product of this era was the arrival of record labels and lucrative contracts that came with them.
Until that point in time Fania records had a strong grip on the distribution of Salsa. However, record labels such as RMM and TH-Rodven encroached upon their domain.
This aided in the spreading of the music to new and varied audiences. As the sound was infused into the music landscape subcategories appeared, such as the romantic love songs called, la Salsa romantica.
The 1980’s brought to us the fad of leg warmers and Members only jackets, as well as new experiments with music. Salsa had become sweet and smooth, it was now commonly known as Salsa romantica.
A wave of romantica singers, mostly Puerto Rican, found wide audiences with a new style characterized by romantic lyrics and an emphasis on melody over rhythm. However, the 1980’s also saw the decline of popularity among Latino youth as the youth were drawn to more common American fare.
The loss of popularity could also be attributed to the music of the Dominican Republic, which had begun to take root and was finding enormous success in the United States.
In an attempt to recapture some of the lost audience many performers sought to experiment with the music once again. This included combining elements of Salsa with hip-hop music.
In specific, producer and pianist Sergio George helped to revive salsa’s commercial success by developing a style of Salsa that was based on prominent trombones and rootsy, mambo-inspired sounds.
His attempts to modernize the sound of Salsa he brought together some of the key figures of modern Salsa. He brought together Victor Manuelle, La India and Marc Anthony as well as stalwarts of Salsa, Celia Cruz, José Alberto, and Tito Puente. This grouping spearheaded the movement to revitalize and remake the genre.
This has been so successful that some artists have begun to cross over, such as Marc Anthony or have enjoyed new found success, such as Gloria Estefan. Salsa has enjoyed such success that many artists that were not part of the stable have attempted to cross over into Salsa music; an example of this is Jennifer Lopez.
Salsa has reached a far and diverse audience, often being a major part of the music scene in such countries such as Venezuela, Mexico and as far away as Japan.
The influences of any and all music managed to affect how Salsa has moved throughout the ages. Most recently hip-hop music came to shape the genre, often remixing and recording two versions of a song.
Due to the Latin explosion of the late 1990’s Salsa has become a staple of the American music scene. It has also found its way into mainstream American radio stations and has embedded itself into the daily programming.
As the century turned, in 2001 Salsa was one of the major genres of popular music in the world, and Salsa stars had once again taken prominence among the gaggle of international celebrities.
In the end Salsa has become something more than a mere genre of music. It has become something much greater than it was ever meant to be. Throughout its long and vast history it has done what Latinos do best; it has been accepted, grown, changed, and adapted to the strains of society and to the environment in which it is played.
It has also given many Latinos a connection back to their days of youth and a new source of enjoyment in a foreign land. Salsa has also become a staple of cultural identity via its link to the past of many Caribbean Islands.
When played you can look upon a persons face and see the concurrent wave of emotion, enjoyment, and remembrance flood over their bodies. To that end they tap their feet to the clave, grab the hand of their partner and proceed to share their culture with whoever feels the rhythm of the music.