Felix "Pupi" Legarreta

2008 PEW FELLOW
Updated
30 Nov 2016

Felix "Pupi" Legarreta

Felix "Pupi" Legarreta, 2008 Pew Fellow. Directed by Glenn Holsten.

"The melody needs some dress. I cannot send it naked, so I dress it up with the harmony, you know?"

Felix "Pupi" Legarreta (b/ 1940) is a violinist, flutist, singer, arranger, pianist, and guitarist who has participated in several landmark periods of Latin music. Legarreta was born in Cienfuegos, Cuba, and he started playing the violin when he was seven years old. When he was a teenager, he played with some of Cuba's most famous musicians, performing live on both the radio and television. Legarreta left Cuba in the late 1950s and moved to Chicago to play in the second Charanga group formed in the United States. He taught himself to play the Cuban five-key flute in the 1960s, and toured throughout the United States during the 1970s and '80s. Legarreta has been in Philadelphia for the past 30 years, working with and teaching local musicians, working as an electrician, and playing and recording music on a regular basis. He is in the unique position in his field to be a master of violin, flute, piano, vocals, and arrangements.

In 2006 En Honor a Pupi Legarreta was released, a studio recording with local Philadelphia band leader Foto Rodriguez and his group Charanga la Única. Legarreta has performed and recorded with many artists including pianist Larry Harlow, and bassist Israel "Cachao" Lopez. Legarreta was a member of the Fania All Stars, traveling internationally and recording as many as four albums with musical greats such as Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco, Héctor Lavoe, Ray Barretto, Papo Lucca, and Ruben Blades, among others.