His parents were Pedro Dávila Tirado and Ana Ortiz Ortiz. The first, a native of Dorado, was a carpenter. She, originally from Corozal, was employed in a tobacco shop. They divorced when he was very young.
In 1924, Dona Ana remarried and went to live in the Latin Quarter of New York with her new husband. The future artist was then taken care of by his progenitor. At the age of ten he enrolled in the Academy of Music in Bayamón, where they trained those who would integrate the Municipal Band. There Solfeo learned and executed the piccolo and the bombardino, having been a disciple of Professors Eleuterio "Tello" Melendez and Angel Costoso. However, he always preferred to sing.
His first and greatest influence on his development as a vocalist was the Trio Borinquen, by Rafael Hernández, whose artistic trajectory would be linked a few years later. He listened to the records of that trilogy for the first time in the phonograph they had at the Imprenta Moreno, located in the so-called Cuesta de Juanche (near his home), in 1925. At the time, he was 13 years old. Exactly the 4 of July of 1927, counting then 15, arrived at New York, reclaimed by its mother, whose apartment located in the Street 100, between the Second and Third avenues. In the Great City he would finish the eighth grade of regular studies by taking night classes while, by day, he worked as a courier in a cushion factory.
During those dates he learned to accompany the guitar in an autodidactic way. He also composed his first song: the tango "El leproso" (1928). The following year (1929) created his first set next to Johnny Rodriguez: the Quintet Junior, in front of which they brightened birthdays, baptisms and similar familiar celebrations. That group was short-lived, among other reasons, because Johnny returned to Puerto Rico. In 1930, thanks to the intervention of the guitarist José Armengol "Mengol" Diaz, managed to integrate to the Sextet of Pedro Flores, in which they appeared Pedro "Piquito" Marcano (first voice and maraquero); Rafael «Fayito» Ferrer (second voice) and Eladio «Yayito» Maldonado (cuatrista and guitarrist).
The then young singer also sought the friendship of Manuel "Canario" Jiménez Otero, Ramón Quirós and other notable Puerto Rican musicians. But, especially, Rafael Hernandez, whom he frequently visited in the record store and music stores Almacenes Hernandez, who had established with his sister Victoria between 115th Street and Madison Avenue. On July 19, 1931, at last, he received his longed for opportunity to record as a soloist with Sexteto Flores. During that first session, under the Brunswick label, the "Koli-Kolo" boleros - dedicated to the boxer wearing such remoquete -, "Regalito", "Diosa", "Borinquen" and "Gloria" were perpetuated.
Two months later, he recorded what became the group's first success in his voice: the bolero "Contigo", forming a duet with guitarist Enrique "Borrachito" Rodríguez. On the back of that plate appeared the title "Nieves". From then on, until 1935, the successes would happen one after another: "Celos", "Dávila smiling", "Nene", "Palomita" and "Vete" (1932); "Adorada illusion" - original by Alberto «Tití» Amadeo - and "White lilies" (1933); "Carmelita", "Martita" and "I can not" (1934); "Linda", "Without a Flag", "Blind of Love" and "Dame tu amor" (1935). However, months before concluding that first cycle with Sexteto Flores (1934), our biography had joined the orchestra of Cuban flutist Alberto Socarrás. During his brief internship with this organization, he participated in the inaugural show of Campoamor Theater, located between 116th Street and Fifth Avenue (August 10, 1934).
This function was attended by Carlos Gardel, to whom Davilita dedicated his interpretation of "Lamento borincano", by Rafael Hernández. He recruited him shortly afterwards to replace Alberto Carmona in his Victoria Group. His first recording with this collective was, possibly, "Songs of my Earth", under the label RCA Victor. At the end of October of that same year he returned to Puerto Rico with Hernández and Rafael "Chino" Rodríguez (second voice) to act in a series of programs in WKAQ sponsored by the Salt of Picot Grapes and to realize an extensive tour by all the country, also sponsored by said product.
Here they were joined by virtuoso guitarist Francisco López Cruz, completing the famous Quartet Victoria. Of his extensive record legacy, among many other recordings, "Desmayo" and "Desvelo de amor" (1934) and "Preciosa" and "Campanitas de cristal" (1932) were outstanding. In 1935 he was hired by trumpeter Augusto Coen as lead vocalist of the orchestra that was organizing to enliven the dances of Carlton Hall, located between Calle 111 and Fifth Avenue. In this organization he stayed for several months, while continuing to record with the Victoria Quartet. The following year (1936), when Hernandez marched to Mexico, he created the Quintet La Plata that, originally, formed Rafael Rodríguez (second voice); Euphemia «Vaguito» Vázquez (trumpet player); Juan Reyes and a Cuban nicknamed "El Tampeñito" (guitarists).
Then Chencho Moraza and Fausto Delgado (second voices) would pass through their ranks; the guitarists Monchito Reyes, Cándido Vincentí, Monchito Ortega, etc. With this formation also accumulated a wide discography. Some of the selections that were most heard during this period of his career were "Buyanga", "Dolorosa", "My puchunguita", "Stroke and a half", "Maria Engracia", "Nobody but you", " ", etc. A large number of them, of their authorship.
However, it is likely that the most widespread was the bolero "Downstream", original Chencho. In 1937 he resumed his activity in recording studios with Sexteto Flores. From this second stage are pieces like "The portrait", "Estela", "Carmen", "Del triunfo", "Since you love me", "Smile", "Follow your path", " Love of crazy people "(1937); "Lamentations of the soul", "Come where me" and "And that you know" (1938), among others. It is estimated that, as the first voice of this group came to record no less than 400 melodies, the vast majority composed by Don Pedro. In 1938, together with Rafael "Chino" Rodríguez, who was his partner in the Victoria Quartet, became part of the original orchestra of Noro Morales. But his internship for that organization was short-lived, because his voice began to suffer very seriously, largely because of excessive consumption of alcohol.
Anyway, he recorded his passage for her in 14 pieces edited by Decca. Later (1939) was again called by Rafael Hernandez to integrate a snowy version of the Victoria Group, this time with Rodríguez (second voice); Pepito Arvelo (guitarist) and the then teenager Myrta Silva as soloist. However, when preparing to undertake another season of performances in Puerto Rico, because the problem he faced with the voice became worse, he had to be replaced. Their position, then, happened to be occupied by the juvenile Bobby Capó. During the period 1939-1949, Davilita's artistic career was characterized by her long absences from stage and recording studios, a sad consequence of her chronic alcoholic addiction.
In 1946, on the occasion of the death of its progenitor, returned to its homeland, establishing itself in the home of its brother Felix in Santurce. From then on she lived a very difficult emotional and economic stage, since she could no longer sing with the regularity of the past because her vocal abilities had deteriorated severely. But as early as 1949 he was back in New York. That year, the trumpeter Augusto Coen proposed to participate in some of the recordings he had on the agenda for the Seeco label.
Those marked his return to the limelight. In them formed duet with Tito Henríquez. However, he ended the year dramatically: the experience of having been a prisoner in the dreaded Prison of the Tombs in New York, accused of smashing the showcase of a liquor store where they refused to sell rum because of his drunkenness - forcing his wife to juggle to get him out - motivated him to make the decision to stop drinking liquor, a fact that happened on December 3, 1949. With great effort managed to overcome alcoholism.
He never tasted intoxicants again. A few months later, businessman Bartolo Álvarez, owner of the Rival label, gave him the opportunity to record some pieces forming a duet with Claudio Ferrer and Chago Alvarado. From this session came two hits: "Orfandad" (with the first in the second voice) and "Crazy Ansias" (with Alvarado). The exhibition obtained with these discs allowed him to realize some tours by the Hispanic theaters of the Great City. In 1953 he underwent surgery on the vocal cords at New York City Hospital, after which he experienced some improvement.
Nevertheless, those discs would not constitute, even remotely, the best thing of its discography, since its voice continued projecting very weak. Even so, from 1954 his career experienced a new air, forming a duet with the well-known boleroist Felipe Rodríguez "La Voz" that caused a sensation. Originally, the idea of both was to make a few recordings for the Mar-Vela label. But, by public demand, they also agreed to make personal presentations in which they were accompanied by the Trio Los Antares, Felipe's usual. Together they toured all the Hispanic theaters in New York, New Jersey, Chicago and Philadelphia.
Thanks to this push, and to his fortune, already quite recovered from his vocal affections, he was able to continue acting as a soloist and recording with other bands, most notably the Sexteto Borinquen by Mario Hernández, almost until the end of his life. On June 30, 1986, when he was already very ill, Davilita left her house and began to walk aimlessly, for she lost the sense of direction. He was so unlucky he fell, breaking his skull. He could not recover. He died in the Medical Center of Río Piedras, on July 8.
His remains rest in the Cemetery Braulio Owner Columbus, his hometown. For the record - Like most artists, Davilita sometimes "wore off" a couple of years when reporters asked her her date of birth. The same thing was said in 1913 or 1914. But it is not surprising that most of the researchers agree that their arrival in the world took place in 1912, there is no shortage of those who say it was in 1908. It is important to emphasize the fact that, until the first decades of the 20th century, it was very common for children to be registered in the Demographic Register when they were already grown and the dates reported by their parents as corresponding to each case did not respond to reality. • During the period 1932-1937 she participated, as a showgirl, in most of the recordings of the legendary Machin Quartet, headed by the great Cuban singer Antonio Machín.
These were edited by RCA Victor. Many musicologists point to him as "the fifth member of the quartet," since his sharp voice was a significant element in the distinctive sound of this group. • During his performance in the inaugural show of the Teatro Campoamor (1934), dedicated his interpretation of "Lamento Borincano" to the acclaimed French-Argentine tango singer Carlos Gardel, who was the most important of the special guests to that act ... in addition to his favorite interpreter. To his misfortune, the emotion and nervousness that seized him to have him so close and, at that moment, attentive to him, were so intense that his mind went blank and did not start to sing after the orchestra of Alberto Socarrás implement the usual introduction.
After a few seconds of silence, the orchestra began a second time, and then he fell in time. His performance was so brilliant that the audience cheered him and Gardel approached him to shake his hand as a symbol of congratulation. Ana Estrada, with whom she married in New York in 1945, was her only wife and companion until the end of her life. • The 1st. of October of 1978 a great homage was paid to him in the Theater of the University of Puerto Rico with a show that was denominated "Davilita: 50 years of love and people", that same was organized by Salvador Rosa Son and Marta Font de Calero. During his presentation at that event he announced his retirement from the artistic environment ...
a promise he would not fulfill. The emotion that he felt when he was the object of so many compliments and acknowledgments that night affected him to such an extent that he had to be held for three days at the Hermanos Meléndez Hospital in Bayamón. • In 1980 he published his autobiography, "El retrato", full of inaccuracies regarding the dates in which he lived certain events. And although in this little book (16 pages of text and 22 of photos) emphasized in the great love that professed to its mother and in its remorse for having made it suffer with its alcoholic addiction, it did not mention its first name. Selected Discography- • "Quinteto La Plata / Cantan Davilita y Chencho" (Borinquen, DG-1196), 1970. Compilation. • "Davilita's triumphs with orchestra" (Seeco / Tropical, TRLP-5000). Compilation of selections recorded with the orchestra of Augusto Coen in 1949. • "The singer of yesterday and today" (Ansonia, ALP-1266), 1959. • Duo Felipe and Davilita: Idem (Ansonia, SALP-1320) in 1961. • Duo Felipe and Davilita: Idem, Vol.
2 (Ansonia, SALP-1365) in 1965. • "Dances of Puerto Rico" (Borinquen, DG-1243), 1973. With Felipe Rodríguez «La Voice". • "Davilita, Felipe and Pellín with the Sexteto Borinquen and" The parranda de los cumbancheros "(Borinquen, DG-1250), 1973. With Pellín Rodríguez. • "Canciones de Pedro Flores" (Borinquen, DG-1251), 1973. With Felipe and Mario Hernández & Sexteto Borinquen. • "The protest of Los Reyes" (Borinquen, ADG-1262), 1974.
With Felipe and Pellín. • "Parrandera parrandera" (Borinquen, ADG-1283), 1975. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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