The lights go down, the band strikes the opening notes of the first song and for the next two hours Yolanda Duke mesmerizes the crowd with her mastery of Latin jazz, Merengue, Ballads, Bossanova, Salsa and Bolero.
While that is a very real scenario today, it was but a recurring dream for young Yolanda growing up in New York City. She was the gifted little girl with the big voice, who––after taking singing lessons––began to take command of her talent and gain confidence in her ability to entertain.
In her early teens she entered singing contests and eventually won a local competition. Soon after she began her singing career, performing in local clubs in NYC and Toronto. This lead to her being booked as the headliner of a Vegas-style show at the number-one showplace in the Caribbean, La Fuente Nightclub, at the prestigious Hotel Jaragua, where she refined her performing skills and stage presence, beginning her transformation into ‘La Duke.’ She followed the success of that appearance by recording a hit tropical album for RMM/SONY Music.
Yolanda then recorded a tribute to the famous Latin songstress La Lupe, who gained international fame performing with the Tito Puente Orchestra. A copy of the cd made its way to Tito, who was so impressed that he invited young Yolanda to appear as a guest vocalist at several concerts over the next few years. Then he made her an offer she couldn’t refuse––becoming a permanent singer in the band from 1994 -97, thrilling audiences all over the world. La Duke had the privilege of sharing stage with the likes of Ray Charles, BB King, Arturo Sandoval, Dianne Reeves and Al Jarreau.
As her fans will attest, what sets Yolanda apart is that she doesn’t just interpret a song, she takes it and makes it her own. Her voice is a wondrous instrument that yells with exuberance, cries with soul and whispers with intimacy. In the course of one song, she can inspire your mind, touch your heart and move your feet like no other singer.
Today, Yolanda carries on Tito’s legacy, performing in venues around the world with the Tito Puente Latin Jazz Orchestra. She continues her prolific recording career as well, recently producing a new Big Band recording of standards.
The little songbird might be all grown up, but deep inside she is still a young girl singing her heart out for the entire world to hear.
YOLANDA DUKE Discography:
La Luna. Produced by Johnny Ventura: Merengue, Ballad and Bossanova
Soy Una Fiera. Produced by Chery Jiménez and Manuel Tejada: Merengue, Salsa, Bachata and Ballad
Nostalgias de La Lupe. Produced by Sergio George: Bolero
Recordando a Selena. Salsa
Cubismo, Live at the Gavilla Theater in Zagreb. Salsa
Dejame Vivir, duet with Raulin Rodríguez, Bachata
Amigo. Duets with Fernando Villalona, Merengue, tipico
Experiencias. Produced by Isidro Infante & Nelson Hernandez: Salsa
Live Around The World: Salsa, Bolero
Many Moods, Yolanda Duke with The Tito Puente Orchestra: Big Band Latin Jazz, Swing, Bolero and Salsa
USA: 36 states, over 76 cities
16 European Countries, over 54 cities;
5 Countries of Asia;
4 cities of Australia and New Zealand;
5 countries of South and Central America;
5 Caribbean countries.
2 countries of Africa
And 2 cities in Canada.
Television Appearances. Among them:
Jerry Lewis Telethon (USA) , BET on Jazz (USA), Christmas Special, Telemundo (USA)
Sabado Gigante, Univision (USA), Domenica, from BAM USA, RAI Italy (USA)
Las noches con Freddy (RD), Divertido con Jochy (RD)
Panama Telethon (Panama)
Honduras Telethon (Honduras)
Buenos Aires, HBO Argentina (Arg)
ShowTV, Lima, Peru.
Zagreb TV, (Croatia)
Thesaloniki Jazz, HBO Greece (Greece)
Umbria Jazz, RAI TV(Italy)
San Sebastian Jazz, TV Española (Spain)
Marciac Jazz, France Sud 3 (France)
Joy Of Jazz, Morning Live, SABC 2 (South Africa)
Tanja Latina, Generations 2M TV (Morocco)
I've Got You Under My Skin
Under My Skin (Swing Rumba)
This tasty gem of a tune hearkens back to the days when the clubs were sophisticated and so was the music. The horns and strings, lends just the right setting for La Duke’s sensual, heartfelt vocal.
Blue Moon (Cha Cha)
The beat, the horns, the vocal and the tenor sax solo by Mitch Fruhman create an irresistible rendition of this revered classic
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