About Leoni Torres
Fusing both traditional and modern strands of Latin pop for over two decades, this popular ASCAP Award-winning Cuban singer, songwriter, and producer incorporates salsa -- and occasionally reggaetón -- into his largely mainstream sound.
Born Leonardo Torres Álvarez in the late '70s on Cuba's southern coast, in the city of Santa Cruz del Sur, he soon became fascinated by American R&B, particularly Michael Jackson. After working menial jobs -- including a three-year stint as a refrigerator repair man -- he joined a parody musical act, sending up everything from his hero Jackson to the theme from Titanic. By 1998, he could be found performing at local venues, and the following year he joined Maravillas de Florida before he was asked by David Calzado to sing with Charanga Habanera in 2001. Torres spent seven years with this influential ensemble, but left after tasting solo success with his debut EGREM album, 2007's Bajo la Piel. He followed the release in 2011 with Latiendo and 2012's Salseando, which comprised salsa renditions of selections from his catalog to date.
Although 2014 saw Torres make his acting debut in Contigo Pan y Onion -- a film adaptation of Héctor Quintero's play -- the year was perhaps most notable for the release of his composition "Amor Bonito," a duet with Descemer Bueno. It was the first real example of his songwriting to make a splash, and pre-dated his co-writing credit on Gente de Zona & Marc Anthony's 2015 single "Traidora," a track that ultimately won an ASCAP Award for Best Tropical Music Composition. The same year brought another duet, this time with Pablo Milanés -- an innovator of the nueva trova movement -- on the single "Para Que un Día Vuelvas." 2016 found Torres acting again, this time in Jonal Cosculluela's Esteban, before he threw himself into recording Amor Bonito, a two-volume collection characteristically rich in duets. In August 2019, he promoted the project with an extensive tour of the U.S. and Europe. Upon leaving EGREM, his next record -- March 2021's Alma Cubana -- was produced in close collaboration with Kelvis Ochoa and Leonardo Gil Milián. ~ James Wilkinson