No bones about it, resurrecting the dead is black magic. It is something to be approached with caution and reverence and something that takes a lot of energy to conjure.
About three years ago, I was asking the latin soul diva Calma Carmona about her musical influences and she told me about a murder mystery that surrounded the death of one her favorite artists, Ralfi Pagan. Much to my surprise, Ralfi was a Fania recording artist that I’d never heard of. How could a music nerd like me have overlooked such an amazing voice? Singing in spanglish, my native language, his falsetto was one of the most significant additions to my record collection and something that I both cherish and felt an overwhelming urge to share with the world.
I started investigating Ralfi’s history and kept running into dead ends. Why would someone kill a man who’s sole purpose on this planet was to sing songs about love? And for that to happen in Colombia of all places, en ‘quilla, where there’s such a genuine appreciation of good music.
I spent hours in the comments section of youtube looking for clues. All I learned was that his legacy was alive in trunk of Mexican lowriders in California. You could walk around Spanish Harlem, where Ralfi grew up and ask 100 people who’d been in the neighborhood 50 years and it was close to impossible to find anyone who remembered his name. I was determined to somehow right this historical wrong.
The murderer hadn’t just taken a life. He betrayed everyone who ever loved. Ralfi was the voice of young Latino’s going through their first feels. He took away someone that would have been held in the same esteem as Hector and Celia.
Eventually, I ended up contacting Fania records to see if they’d allow me access to his material so that I could be here today to tell you his story. So that you would hear his music in the clubs again. So that see his name written on your feed and say it outloud. Ralfi Pagan. El Flaco de Oro.
*Check out a preview of the project below, and stream or download it on iTunes: