Yolanda Rivera a.k.a Yolandita...is another female favorite!!! Her musical repertoire includes merengue, bolero, rumba, guaguanco, and puerto rican salsa. The unique beauty in her voice, is what immediately draws you in to enjoy her music. Her voice is raw and pure in its nature, and resinates to a level that creates deep feeling of pleasure to anyone who listens. When she performs, she sings effortlessly and always appears to be in her own element. Although, her essence and stage presence is somewhat reserved and composed compared to other artists, it suits her because her voice alone is that impressionable and captivating. She is mostly known for her work with “La Sonora Ponceña” whom she left after 7 years and 8 recordings. Out of the four women highlighted in March for Women’s History Month, Yolandita Rivera is the only one still alive today. She last released an album in 2003 titled “La Hija del Guaguanco”.
Yolanda Rivera was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1951. She comes from a family where they all sing by nature and not for the sake of making it a profession. It has been reported that Yolandita admits listening to Cuban music as early as 8 years of age, and that she began to develop her desire and passion for singing after seeing Celeste Mendoza sing at an event in her home town of Ponce, P.R. Yolandita has a naturally exceptional voice and has reported never taking singing lessons.
Yolandita’s singing career started 1969 as a member of Willie Rosario’s chorus in NEW York. She later returned to Puerto Rico in 1975 when she joined “Roberto y Su Chango”. In 1976, she had what would be considered her first professional debut with the band, “La Terrifica”. With “La Terrifica” Yolandita did her first recording. The album was titled; “Sabor a Pueblo” where she appeared in the songs; “Mi Corazon es Para Ti”, “Guaguanco No. 3”, “Para que sufras”, and “Esta Demas”. Unfortunately, “La Terrifica” was short lived due to disagreements amongst the group.
Two months later, Yolandita met Quique Lucca founder of “La Ponceña”. Quique decided to recruit Yolanda as a singer. This is when Yolandita gained world-wide fame. With “La Ponceña” she recorded what is known as her favorite song; “Borinquen”. She stayed with “La Ponceña” from 1977 through 1984. During this time she recorded a few albums, and walked many stages from all over the world. Some of the albums recorded with “La Ponceña” are:
“El Gigante Del Sur” (Inca-1977-1054);
“La Orquesta De Mi Tierra” (1978-Inca-1064);
Recopilatorio “energizado” (1979-1072-Inca)
“New Heights” (1980-Inca-1074)
“Fuerza Unchained” (1980-Inca-1077)
“Night Raider” (1981-Inca-1079)
Yolandita Rivera left “La Sonora Ponceña” after her daughter was born. Her daughter was born with a foot deformity, such that doctors wanted to amputate at 1-1/2 years of age. Yolanda disagreed with treatment recommendations and as a result, moved to Miami to seek better treatment for her daughter. Although, she stayed in Miami five years, she continued sining, and worked with “La Fuerza Noble” lead by Gabino Pampini.
Five years later, she returned to Puerto Rico where it was commercially more difficult to continue her sining career. It was only in the 90’s when she joined “La Orchesta de Rubby Haddock” that she recorded various albums all within a three year span.
Since then, she has worked closely with Luigi Texidor.who also was a member of “La Ponceña” (10 years), and member of Bobby Valentin’s Orchestra. She has made special appearances for many of “La Ponceña” anniversary events and records such as “30 Aniversario Edad de Oro (Inca 1092), 45 Aniverario en Vivo: Historia Y Sequimos Haciendo (BMG/Ariola 81 167) 2000. She also recorded on Ray Barretto’s album; “50th Anniversary Live” where she sang “Nadie se Salva de la Rumba”.
Her music is said to be most popular and in most demand in New York City where a she did a duo of soneras on the stage with Choco Orta in 2002. Most recently, Yolandita released an album in 2003 titled “La Hija del Guaguanco”.