Kenneth A. Meléndez
Kenneth A. Mel√©ndez'¥ musical career began in the late 70'ís. By the age of ten, he was playing and performing in public. Even though Kenneth was a self-taught musician on the congas at an early age, his formal musical training began at the School of Fine Arts in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Today, a multi-percussionist, he specializes in the following: Afro-Puerto Rican Folkloric Percussion, Barriles de Bomba, Panderos de Plena, Afro-Cuban Popular and Folkloric Percussion Tumbadoras, Bongo, Timbal, Bata, Chekere, Cajones de Rumba, and minor percussion. He also performs Afro-Dominican Popular and Folkloric Percussion, Tambora, Guira, Brazilian Zurdos, and Pandeiro. After his Puerto Rican upbringing on the island, he moved to Lorain, Ohio where he continued to play in local bands, which led to performing throughout the United States with various musical groups. Kenneth completed high school and continued onto college, majoring in graphic design.
In 1990 Kenneth returned to Puerto Rico, where he became, and still is, very active in the music and art scene. He recorded with major Salsa bands and folkloric groups from Puerto Rico, and he collaborated with groups that received Grammy nominations for their recordings. In 2006, he endorsed Remo Percussion Company and Cases FV and is now a Toca Percussion Artist. He has played with various Latin groups such as, La Terrifica, Conjunto la Perla, Plena y Bembe, Los Pleneros del Barrio, Los Calvos Jazz, Roberto Ocasio Jazz band, Pedrito Guzman'ís Jibarro Jazz, Orquesta La Solucion, and is currently playing for el Monty y el Truko de Seis, el Conjunto Chaney (a successful musical Puerto Rican salsa band that has been in the industry for the past 40 years), and La Familia Sanabria (a renown folk music group from Puerto Rico, where Kenneth has been an important member for the past 15 years). This last music group performs 10-to-20 gigs a month and more than 50 festival and event performances per season. In terms of national and international stages, Kenneth Melendez has shared the stage with major national artists, such as Plenarium, Tommy Olivencia, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Victor Manuel, Andres Jim√©nes, Joseph Fonseca, Eddie Palmieri, Samuel H√©rnandez, Plena Libre, Olga Ta√±on, Grupo Mania, Kao'ís, Andy Montan√©z, El Gran Combo, Sonora Ponce√±a, among others.
As an artist, Kenneth enjoys creating traditional masks with diverse materials, such as burlap, coconut, wood, royal palm, papier mache, gourd, foam, plastic, and wire mesh. He has exhibited his artworks in the following venues: McDonough Museum of Art in Youngstown, Ohio; Esqueleto Gallery in Oberlin, Ohio; Lorain County Community College Gallery, Lorain, Ohio; Jazz Gallery, San Francisco, California; American History Museum, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Puerto Rican Culture, San Juan, Puerto Rico; Museum of Art, Ponce, Puerto Rico
While maintaining a heavy performing schedule, Kenneth teaches and strenuously promotes knowledge of art, and Latin music, sharing his talents and experiences with schools, organizations, universities, and community programs sponsored by clients, such as the Ohio Latino Art Association, the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, the tourism company of Puerto Rico, the Lorain Board of Education, the Chicago Board of Education, Julia De Burgos Cultural Arts Center, and Columbus Recreational Parks.
His emphasis is especially directed towards art and music. Currently, Kenneth is teaching kids, teens and adults the importance of their Puerto Rican cultural traditions through the arts. When Kenneth is not playing or touring with salsa bands, he travels the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean with his Masks and Rhythms workshops.