Joaquín Mouliert Meléndez, the Farjardo singer who brought the tenth to Carnegie Hall

Fajardo has its pitirre cantor, in the melodious voice of Joaquín Mouliert Meléndez who planted his music in Carnegie Hall, becoming the first Puerto Rican jíbaro to achieve such a feat in the prestigious New York concert hall.

This humble fajardeño, a native of the Rincón neighborhood, rose to fame in his teens, traveled throughout Latin America, recorded four record productions and produced two television spots that promoted the art of the tenth spinel, in addition to coordinating the troubadour contest of the Fair Bacardi.

Even with success at his feet, Mouliert Meléndez always returned to his beloved town where it was waiting for him his wife, Lydia Manuela Lopez, the muse of his songs and with whom he had three children; from that seed five grandchildren were born.

Sitting on the balcony of his residence in the Paraíso neighborhood, the now octogenarian recalls the fruitful career he has won for his talent since he was invited to participate in a contest at his middle school.

We are Puerto Rico Fajardo. The troubadour Joaquín Mouliert and his wife Lydia Manuela López, who attests to the affection and admiration that the people of Fajardo feel for the troubadour. Photo: Alejandro Granadillo (Alejandro Granada)

Without knowing it, that moment marked his story; details that weave through a few tenths in which he recounts his entire life and that he still preserves among his most precious documents, along with dozens of awards and recognitions that line the walls of his cozy home.

“I studied up to ninth grade and in middle school there was a school program and there was a well-known musician in Fajardo, Magüi Mercado, and they invited me to sing with them and they applauded me. That’s where it all started. Magüi Mercado, had an amateur program on the radio, she invited me to the program and there he gave me the first prize”, she highlighted when opening the trunk of memories.

“Magüi recommended that I go to the Tribuna del Arte, where Rafael Quiñones Vidal… imagine, he was the father of artists in Puerto Rico. He told me that if he won the first prize, then he was going to grow up. I really grew up because that was the best-known program in and outside of Puerto Rico. I won the first prize in Tribuna del Arte, they gave me the gold medal, but that was not the first day, but I went to several programs”, said the 85-year-old singer.

There, according to Mouliert Meléndez, he met the most important troubadours of that time, among them, Don Luis Miranda ‘Pico de Oro’, Juanito Rivera de Bayamón, and the brothers Ramito, Moralito and Luisito with whom he maintained a great friendship. By then, he would be about 18 years old.

“I was surrounded by the greats. By that time I was already at his level. They came to Fajardo and were gods, because Ramito was the best singer of the tenth in all of history. Luis Miranda was the best improviser for those times. When I passed Luis Miranda, they gave me more and thank God, the fame that one gets when he is with the good ones, I got it too, “he confessed.

We are Puerto Rico Fajardo. Memories of his musical career abound in the troubadour Joaquín Mouliert's residence. Photo: Alejandro Granadillo
We are Puerto Rico Fajardo. Memories of his musical career abound in the troubadour Joaquín Mouliert’s residence. Photo: Alejandro Granadillo (Alejandro Granada)

Mouliert Meléndez also created his musical group, Ecos de la Montaña, with which he ventured into television, first on WAPA with Tommy Muñiz in the program “Borinquen Canta”, which he directed for several years and then went on to WIPR in ” Así Canta “. with Luisito Vigoreaux.

Meanwhile, the pitirre from Fajardo made history in New York by being the first Puerto Rican singer to sing his tenths at Carnegie Hall, accompanied by native instruments such as the cuatro, the güiro and the guitar.

“I went to New York with Priscilla Flores, ‘La Alondra de San Lorenzo’ and we performed at the Puerto Rico Theater. In 1964 an activity was being held at Carnegie Hall and I had the privilege of going”, she concluded with obvious pride and nostalgia.

In Fajardo, Mouliert Meléndez established unique events that outlined his cultural contribution to the town where he was born.

“We did ‘The Christmas Party of Joaquín Mouliert’, for 46 consecutive years; a caravan of horses through all the neighborhoods; troubadours came from all over Puerto Rico. They were singing all night on December 24 and, on December 25, they went down the main street and ended up in the square. It became too big an event,” he mentioned.

FAJARDO, PUERTO RICO - MAY 11: We are Puerto Rico Fajardo. The troubadour Joaquín Mouliert. Photo: Alejandro Granadillo
FAJARDO, PUERTO RICO – MAY 11: We are Puerto Rico Fajardo. The troubadour Joaquín Mouliert. Photo: Alejandro Granadillo (Alejandro Granada)

“I presided over the Committee for the El Paraíso Model Community and when the typical festival of El Paraíso began, the best troubadours and musicians from Puerto Rico would come. That party lasted 17 years, ”he argued, pointing out that in recent years he shared with the Decimanía project.

Despite a recent health problem, Mouliert Meléndez seems to be like a coconut, wearing his best clothes and the grace with which he wears his particular hat. Of course, he still announces his presence with a particular characteristic and that is that when he arrives, this troubadour emits the sound of the coquí with his whistle.

“People love him very much. Before Christmas, some young troubadours came here to sing and accompany him for a long time. That’s nice, ”said his wife Lydia Manuela.

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This being the case, this man from Fajardo continues to sing to his people through the tenths he recorded and an indeterminate number of compositions that he keeps in his home and in his heart.

And that feat will be recognized before the end of this year when the Fajardo cultural center is inaugurated, which will bear the name of its eternal pitirre.

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Joaquín Mouliert Meléndez, the Farjardo singer who brought the tenth to Carnegie Hall