Tito Lara

Last updated
Tito Lara
Birth nameAgustín Enrique Lara Olivencia
BornDecember 23, 1932
Río Piedras, Puerto Rico
DiedJune 23, 1987
Houston, Texas
Genres Bolero

Tito Lara (December 23, 1932  June 23, 1987), was considered by many to be Puerto Rico's first television singing idol.

A teen idol is a celebrity with a large teenage fan-base. Teen idols are generally young but not always necessarily teenaged. Often teen idols are actors or musicians. Some teen idols began their careers as child actors, like Lindsay Lohan.


Early years

Lara (birth name: Agustín Enrique Lara Olivencia [note 1] ) was born in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico. Lara was raised by his maternal grandmother and received primary education in Santurce. During his spare time, he taught himself to play the guitar. In 1942, when was only 10 years old, his grandmother realized that her grandson had musical talent and took him to WNEL, the local radio station, where he made his debut. In 1946, Lara enrolled at the Free School of Music in San Juan, where he continued his guitar studies and learned to play the trumpet. [1]

Río Piedras, Puerto Rico District of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Río Piedras is a former municipality of Puerto Rico, which was consolidated with the municipality of San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1951. It was founded in 1714, and has been the home of the University of Puerto Rico's main campus since 1903, earning the popular name of Ciudad Universitaria.

Primary education First stage of formal education

Primary education, is typically the first stage of formal education, coming after preschool and before secondary school. (The first year of primary school, reception, is part of the. Primary education takes place in primary school, the elementary school or first and middle school depending on the location.

Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico Barrio of Puerto Rico

Santurce is a barrio in the municipality of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Its population in 2010 was 81,251. It is also the biggest and most populated of all the districts in the capital with a bigger population than most municipalities of Puerto Rico and one of the most densely populated areas of the island.

Trío Los Lirios

In 1948, Lara and eleven fellow students created an ensemble with Lara as lead singer. In 1949, Lara formed a trio called Trío Los Lirios which became a regular guest on the WKAQ radio station. They were paid 2 American dollars per appearance.

Recording debut

Lara enrolled at the University of Puerto Rico to study Liberal Arts and joined the university's choir. In 1950, the owner of Mardí Records heard and was impressed by Lara's singing and asked him to form a quartet including a female voice. Lara did so, was signed by Mardí Records and dropped out of college in 1953 to travel with the quartet to New York City. [1]

University of Puerto Rico The main public university system of Puerto Rico

The University of Puerto Rico is the main public university system of Puerto Rico and a government-owned corporation of Puerto Rico. The institution consists of 11 campuses and has approximately 58,000 students and 5,300 faculty members. UPR has the largest and most diverse academic offerings in Puerto Rico, with 472 academic programs of which 32 lead to a doctorate.

Choir Ensemble of singers

A choir is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform. Choirs may perform music from the classical music repertoire, which spans from the medieval era to the present, or popular music repertoire. Most choirs are led by a conductor, who leads the performances with arm and face gestures.

In music, a quartet or quartette is an ensemble of four singers or instrumental performers; or a musical composition for four voices or instruments.

Lara also went solo in 1953 and scored a hit with a recording of the bolero Sollozo ('Crying'), which he followed up with Orquídeas, a Spanish version of Orchids in the Moonlight by Vincent Youmans. That same year he met and married Nilda María Canino with whom he was to have three children, Agustin Jr., María and José Rafael. He returned to New York and performed at the Paramount Theater where Myrta Silva introduced him as "El Pollo que Canta" ('The Handsome Singer'). [2]

A hit parade is a ranked list of the most popular recordings at a given point in time, usually determined by sales and/or airplay. The term originated in the 1930s; Billboard magazine published its first music hit parade on January 4, 1936. It has also been used by broadcast programs which featured hit tunes such as Your Hit Parade, which aired on radio and television in the United States from 1935 through the 1950s.

Music of Puerto Rico Variety of musical genres from Puerto Rico, US

The music of Puerto Rico has evolved as a heterogeneous and dynamic product of diverse cultural resources. The most conspicuous musical sources have been Spain and West Africa, although many aspects of Puerto Rican music reflect origins elsewhere in Europe and the Caribbean. Puerto Rican music culture today comprises a wide and rich variety of genres, ranging from essentially indigenous genres like bomba to recent hybrids like Latin trap and reggaeton. Broadly conceived, the realm of "Puerto Rican music" should naturally comprise the music culture of the millions of people of Puerto Rican descent who have lived in the United States, and especially in New York City. Their music, from salsa to the boleros of Rafael Hernández, cannot be separated from the music culture of Puerto Rico itself.

Paramount Theatre (New York City) former movie theater and theater in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, United States

The Paramount Theatre was a noted 3,664 seat movie palace located at 43rd Street and Broadway in the Times Square district of New York City. Opened in 1926, it was a premiere showcase theatre and New York headquarters of Paramount Pictures. Adolph Zukor, founder of Paramount predecessor Famous Players Film Company, maintained an office in the building until his death in 1976. The Paramount Theatre eventually became a popular live performance venue. The theater was closed in 1964 and its space converted to office and retail use. The tower which housed it, known as the Paramount Building located at 1501 Broadway, is in commercial use as an office building and is still home to Paramount Pictures offices, and remains a Times Square landmark.

Los Hispanos

In 1955, Lara joined one of Puerto Rico's renowned quartets Los Hispanos and made his television début with them and singers, Ida Claudio, and Sonia Noemí on "El Show Ford", broadcast by Telemundo, the television station owned and operated by Ángel Ramos. His extraordinary vocal range allowed him to replace any of the members of Los Hispanos when one of them was unable to perform. In January 11, 1965, the group began a seven-year participation in the televised part of the Festival Sultana, a show produced by Paquito Cordero. Lara and Los Hispanos travelled and performed in the United States, the Dominican Republic, Panamá, Perú, Venezuela and Chile. [2] Lara enrolled in the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico and in 1970 earned his Bachelor's degree, specializing in trumpet-playing. He formed a duo with María Esther Ortiz called Los Dos and also founded the Allegro 72 group, which, among others, included Luis Antonio Cosme. Lara performed with Allegro 72 at Carnegie Hall, New York, and at various television stations. Some members of Allegro 72 who went on to gain fame were Lunna, Ángel "Cucco" Peña, Dagmar Rivera and Alyce Gracia. [1]

Los Hispanos was a Puerto-Rican vocal quartet active in 1960s New York City.

Telemundo American Spanish-language network owned by Comcast through NBCUniversal Television Groups Telemundo Enterprises

Telemundo is an American Spanish-language terrestrial television network owned by Comcast through NBCUniversal. It is the second-largest provider of Spanish-language content nationally behind American competitor Univision, with programming syndicated worldwide to more than 100 countries in over 35 languages.

Ángel Ramos (industrialist) Puerto Rican businessman

Ángel Ramos Torres was a Puerto Rican industrialist. He entered El Mundo during high school years as a typesetter, and went on to become the owner of the newspaper. He also founded Radio El Mundo and WKAQ-TV Telemundo.

Later years

Lara began to have problems with his health in 1978, suffering a stroke which was complicated by his diabetes. In 1979, he underwent an open-heart surgery procedure from which he recuperated and shortly after returned to Puerto Rico. There he underwent conversion to Christianity and joined a Protestant church. [2]

After his conversion, he continued singing sacred music almost exclusively, collaborating with singers such as the magnificent mezzo-soprano Maribel Soto, recording with her a Spanish adaptation of Sandi Patty's "More than Wonderful" ("Maravilloso es"); singing in a choir put together by Wisón Torres, Jr. and Leyda E. Colón, founders and directors of the Puerto Rican Christian music group Peregrinos y Extranjeros, for the CD "Buscando aquella ciudad" ("Looking for that city") (Pilgrim Music), and recording two beautiful projects as a soloist. The first one was titled "Él" ("He"); the second one: "Señor Amigo" ("My Lord, my friend"). Most of the lyrics of his sacred songs talked about grace, eternal live, hope, and love for his Lord, Jesus Christ. When visiting churches to sing live or presenting concerts, he always said: "I sing happily because I believe in the words I sing". [ citation needed ] His version in Spanish of the Frankie Laine hit I Believe, titled "Tengo Fe", became his signature song.

He also participated in "Noche de Gala", a musical variety show hosted by T.V. personality Eddie Miró, for the celebration of Easter, singing the famous duet with Maribel Soto. In 1985, Lara participated in the Concierto de Navidad (Christmas Concert) held at the "Luis A. Ferré Center for the Performing Arts" in San Juan. In 1986, he held concerts in the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts and at the Hostos Center of Culture in the Bronx. That year he also recorded his last album, Los Cuatro Ases (The Four Aces). [1]

Personal life

Lara was married to Nilda Maria Canino from 1953 to his death. In addition to his wife, he was survived by his three children. [3]


External audio
Nuvola apps arts.svg You may listen to Tito Lara's "Si Me Preguntan" on YouTube.


In March 1987, Lara suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized at the West Houston Medical Center in Houston, Texas. He died on June 23, 1987, aged 54, and was laid to rest in Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery in Old San Juan. [2]


  1. This article uses Spanish naming customs : the first or paternal family name is Laraand the second or maternal family name is Olivencia.

See also

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