As some of you are well aware, before I embarked on the creation of my NewGenSalsa facebook group page and website I was the music editor for Izzy Sanabria’s Salsa Magazine. After devoting my time and effort to his organization for nearly a year, I decided to unceremoniously end my affiliation with the quote unquote magazine in November of 2011 after my relationship with Sanabria’s associate/henchman Luis Chaluisan (aka Luis “Chancleta”) began to deteriorate. In light of Chaluisan’s recent controversial blog post (read here) in which he attacks and discredits nearly every member of the New York salsa scene (including myslef) I have decided that it would be the perfect time for me to share my story.
Oddly enough, the true reason for my departure from Salsa Magazine all stemmed from a photo that I posted on my personal facebook wall that featured myself and Latin soul musician/music executive Harvey Averne. Apparently Luis and Izzy were at odds with Harvey over prior business dealings and were none too pleased to see their music editor posing for a picture with a purported enemy of theirs. As a result of the photo that appeared on my facebook wall, Luis sent me a series of Anti-Semitic filled e-mails that detailed his and Izzy’s disdain for Harvey. In the e-mails he requested that the photo be taken down immediately and that I unfriend Harvey or I would be forced to resign from my position as music editor of Salsa Magazine.
Despite my best efforts to explain that I was merely taking a photo with a friend and that I had no prior knowledge of any rift that existed between Salsa Magazine and Harvey; Luis stood firm in his position and deemed me as easily replaceable. Naturally, I took this as a slap in the face since I did not appreciate having my integrity questioned and my contributions to the Salsa Magazine undersold and undervalued. Furthermore, I was not going to allow myself to be subject to threats or ultimatums, particularly after all the uncompensated work that I carried out for Salsa Magazine. As a result, I quickly made the decision to end my affiliation with Izzy Sanabria and Luis Chaluisan by resigning from post as the magazine music editor.
At the time that I was approached by Izzy and Luis to join their Salsa Magazine collective I had just started to build a growing online musical presence from my Salsa DJ mixes, which were being well received by the Salsa community. I viewed the opportunity to partner up with Salsa Magazine as an avenue to broaden my horizons, and an opportunity to help make a positive cultural contribution to the music of my youth. As a former musician and DJ of over 30 years I had witnessed all of Salsa’s peaks and valleys and I was eager to facilitate its resurgence as a musical genre. There were those who had warned me of Izzy and Luis’ industry reputation, but I decided to ignore the chatter and take the gamble.
As a member of Salsa Magazine I generated weekly music playlists, wrote countless album and song reviews on the latest Salsa releases, and aided in the early development of the now defunct Salsa Magazine award show by helping to devise award categories and the full list of award nominees. In total I brought in over 400 new bands in to the Salsa Magazine fold. My feelings for Izzy and Luis aside, I am proud of the contribution that I was able to make in my time as the magazine’s acting music editor. I can say with confidence that from the beginning my intentions have always been pure and that my love for the music has always been placed before any business, personal or political agenda. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my former colleagues.
After my resignation from Salsa Magazine I decided against speaking out publicly about my former organization despite the urging of others. At the time I was more focused on what my next move would be, and the last thing I wanted to do was involve myself in a petty he said/she said debate. Eventually I made the decision to continue the work that I had started at Salsa Magazine by branching off and creating my own venture called NewGenSalsa. With Izzy and Luis dedicating their magazine promotion to the Fania era artists that fueled their memorabilia sales, I decided to go in the opposite direction by championing the new wave of salsa that was being sadly overlooked.
My aim with the creation of NewGenSalsa was to become a premier promotional forum for new salsa music and emerging artists who were eager to spread their music to the masses. My hope was that I could somehow serve as a key cog in elevating Salsa music to the heights of its glory days. What started off as Facebook group page just a few months ago has now evolved in to a full-fledged website filled with song reviews, music videos, weekly music playlist’s, news articles and more. The response to NewGenSalsa has been more than I could have ever asked for, and thanks to the warm embrace of the salsa community I have plenty of confidence that we are on the right track.
Despite the failed efforts of Izzy Sanabria and Luis Chaluisan to try and discredit my work and the work of my team, I would like to personally thank them for all they have done. There is nothing that I could have personally said or done that would have inflicted the type of shame or embarrassment that they have brought forth on themselves. Luis Chaluisan’s recent tirade on the New York City Salsa community is only a mere illustration of the type of hateful and divisive behavior that has typified his career in the industry. The salsa magazine regime embodies everything that is wrong with the salsa industry and the music business at large. Instead of aiming to promote a culture of inclusiveness and unity, their magazine operates in the mold of a communist dictatorship. If you are bold enough to disagree with them or have an opposing view they will do everything in their power to try and shun your opinion and drag your name through the mud.
In closing, I would like to make it abundantly clear that Salsa Magazine is not currently nor were they ever affiliated with NewGenSalsa. Despite the fact that Luis Chaluisan has tried to claim ownership of the NewGenSalsa name and has attempted to make some believe that NewGenSalsa is a subsidiary of Salsa Magazine, this couldn’t be further from the truth. We are two totally separate entities with two totally different agendas, and we operate as such. The fact of the matter is that Salsa Magazine’s dwindling presence in the salsa community along with NewGenSalsa’s quick rise has forced Luis to resort to desperate measures.
Since the inception of NewGenSalsa I and several members of my team have been on the receiving end of numerous hostile email and Facebook messages from Luis Chaluisan. Despite our best efforts to turn the other cheek; the total lack of regard and disrespect shown by him and Salsa Magazine is something that we cannot tolerate any longer. I want to sincerely apologize to any artists that have unfortunately become entangled in Salsa Magazine’s web of lies and deceit. Having to take time out my day to answer to the wild and exaggerated accusations of a crazed individual is not my idea of fun. This is not the reason that I decided to become involved in this industry. I for one have too much pride and dignity to even consider stooping to the levels of someone like Luis Chulisan, but I will also not stand idle while someone openly tries to assassinate my character and the character of others.
I implore all bands, singers, musicians, managers, agents, and record labels to end any and all affiliation with Luis Chaluisan, Izzy Sanabria and any individual or organization that poses a threat to our music and culture. There are plenty of reputable people within the salsa industry that are far more worthy of your time and attention than the disgrace that is Salsa Magazine. The man known by many as “Mr. Salsa” is no longer befitting of that name. Salsa Magazine’s disrespect towards the Fania All-Stars and all the New York based Salsa bands is an attack on the culture that should not be tolerated or accepted. Izzy Sanabria has stood silent while allowing Luis Chaluisan to disgrace his name and flush 40 years of musical history down the toilet. If there was ever a time for the salsa industry to band together as a united front then that time would be now. A line in the sand must be drawn and we as a musical community must have the courage to show that we will no longer put up with this type of nonsense. The issue at hand is much bigger than myself, Fania, Harvey Averne, Larry Harlow, Martin Cohen, Jerry Hernandez, Andres Padua, Aurora Flores, Henry Knowles, Don Sonero or anybody else that has been directly affected by the recent turn of events. Let’s free ourselves from this pettiness and get back to saving the music! Time is running out…
“El Salsero Mayor” DJ Walter B Nice
Founder of “NewGenSalsa”