Oscar de Leon (Oscar D'Leon) is a Venezuelan born salsa singer recognized as a talented sonero as well as an accomplished bass player. He is known as “El Sonero del Mundo” or "The Improviser of the World", “El Leon de Salsa” or “The Lion of Salsa”, and “El Sonero del Mundo” or "The Son Singer of the World".
To each performance, he brings a mix of his rich tenor voice, the nasally singing of the Cuban son, and a charismatic stage presence which often includes frantic dancing while playing his upright bass. All told, he has recorded more than fifty albums, both solo and with the many horn based bands he has formed. After scouring the globe on multiple world tours, Oscar D’Leon is by far the most well known Venezuelan salsa singer, if not the country’s most famous musician.
Playing the Upright Bass
Oscar D’Leon was born as Oscar Emilio Leon Simoz on July 11, 1943 in Caracas, Venezuela. While working day jobs as a taxi driver and factory worker, he taught himself the upright bass by playing along to records. His work paid off as he became an in demand musician on the Caracas’ nightclub scene. In 1972, after performing with early bands such as La Golden Star and Los Psicodelicos, Leon formed his first band La Dimension Latina which produced his first big hit "Pensando en Ti" and the song for which he is most well know, "Lloraras”. Together, La Dimension Latina recorded six albums over the course of four years.
Leon would then go on to start the group “The Salsa Mayor” which recorded many hits including “Juanita Morell”. The group stayed together until a rift developed amongst the players in 1978. Leon then joined the group La Critica with whom he recorded “Se Necesita Rumbero”. Through the 1980’s and 1990’s, Leon went out on his own, often accompanied by a group he would call his “Orquesta”, recording the albums “La Salsa Soy Yo”, “Riquiti”, “El Rey De Los Soneros”, and “Toitico Tuyo”.
A Day in his Honor
Despite recent heart attacks, Oscar De Leon still continues to sing in sold out concerts around the world, but has retired the bass from his live performances. Among his many achievements, are multiple gold records, a 1989 Grammy Award nomination for his album "Sonero Del Mundo”, and the dedication of a day in his honor by the city of New York.