Since the mid-'80s Jose Papo Rivera has been one of the CCM industry's premier salsa and tropical music recording artists.
Though a niche, the salsa christiana genre experienced significant growth from its inception throughout the '90s and beyond. The genre's slow and steady groundswell of interest is thanks in no small part to regularly performing and recording artists like Rivera. Born into a middle class family in Patterson, NJ, Rivera grew up listening to the sounds of nearby NYC radio stations and the music of Celia Cruz, Andy Montañez, and El Gran Combo, all of whom inspired Rivera, as he began to show immense potential as a cantante. During his adolescence, Rivera found himself distracted by street life and its trappings; drugs, alcohol and the like. His grandfather introduced him to the Christian life and all it could offer. Inspired by the new life he'd found in Christ, Rivera embarked on a life of ministry in 1984. He spent the next 16 years preaching and singing all over the country, earning a reputation as a salsa vocalist without parallel anywhere in the Christian music industry. In 2000, Rivera signed a contract with UP MUSIC for the release of his debut CD Lo Logre. His follow-up release, Eres Mi Verdad, was released the following year, while Rivera toured throughout the U.S. and Latin America. While other Spanish language Christian artists mimicked the sound of Anglo worship music, Rivera strove for a sound that reflected the richness of Latino culture. Subsequent releases 15 Anniversary (2002), Unplugged: Evento Historico (2005), and Soy Sonero (2006) marked a consistent rise in Rivera's popularity and influence. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez