Karen Records: Sample the Golden Age of Merengue, Bachata & LatinKaren Records: Sample the Golden Age of Merengue, Bachata & Latin


Karen Records: Sample the Golden Age of Merengue, Bachata & Latin

The rhythms of merengue, bachata, and Latin music run deep through the catalog of Karen Records. Founded in 1973, the label evolved into the most important record label in the history of the Dominican Republic. To this day, their records by the likes of Los Hermanos Rosario, Juan Luis Guerra, Ramón Orlando, and Sergio Vargas make people around the world move.




August 11, 2022

For people who aren’t familiar with the catalog of Karen Records yet: can you please introduce your catalog through music available on Tracklib?

Tony Birriel (Digital Music Coordinator): Every playlist, tropical radio station, or music played at dance venues and parties include a portion of Karen Records’ music. The list of great hits songs is as long as our history since 1973. “Bachata Rosa”, “El Africano”, “El Costo de La Vida”, “Ojala Que Llueva Café”, “La Billirubina”, “La Dueña del Swing”, “El Jardin Prohibido”, "Tomalo Tu" among many others, makes Karen a representative part of merengue music and the Dominican Republic.

I read an article that stated, “Merengue is to the Dominican Republic what blues, jazz, and hip-hop are to the United States.” How do you see this?

Karen Records represents an important part of the music of the Dominican Republic, the tropical genre, and Latin music in general. Since 1970, Karen’s music has presented artists such as Juan Luis Guerra & 440, Los Hermanos Rosario, Wilfrido Vargas, Alex Bueno, Sergio VargasRamón Orlando, and many others. For some, Juan Luis Guerra is the Elvis Presley of tropical music. In that sense, merengue as well as bachata, are to the Dominican Republic what Jazz and Blues are to the USA.

Your label description mentions, “Karen’s music has a vibrant and exciting sound full of great rhythms that transcends generations.” How has the sound stood the test of time like that?

Just by listening to a few beats of our tropical music, people begin to move their feet and body. It is a sound that makes everyone dance, which transcends generations.

Los Hermanos Rosario

Los Hermanos Rosario was widely popular. What does their music mean to you?

Los Hermanos Rosario along with Juan Luis Guerra and Wilfrido Vargas represent the sound of Karen Records. In the case of Los Hermanos Rosario, hits such as La Dueña del Swing,” “Morena Ven,”, “Fin De Semana,”, “Cintura De Fuego have transcended time giving them international recognition and making one of the most important merengue groups.

“La Dueña del Swing” is probably the song for which Los Hermanos Rosario is better known worldwide. In fact, they also have an album called Los Dueños del Swing. The members of this group are siblings of a talented musical family. This influenced their music and sound which can be considered part of an era in merengue history.

ramon orlando samples

Ramón Orlando is a grand maestro pianist in Caribbean rhythms. Can you name a couple of songs to illustrate his versatility?

Besides being a great musician, Ramón Orlando is a great music composer. He has collaborated with many artists of the genre and created many hits such as “Te Compro Tu Novia” and “A La Mala,” but his versatility can be heard on the album Evolución.

sergio vargas

Another key figure from “the golden age of merengue” is Sergio Vargas. His songs on Tracklib from the 80s ("Oh Mariana") and 90s ("La Tierra Tembló") sound quite different. Can you describe how these styles—or perhaps even periods in time—differ from each other?

Throughout his career, Sergio Vargas explored throughout his career new ways to make him stand as one of the greatest performers in the genre. His main music rhythm is merengue, but he has recorded some other genres like salsa and ballads. It is interesting to see how he has managed to cross from one genre to another with great performances. That is the main difference between “Oh Mariana” and “La Tierra Tembló.”

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