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Samuel López


Samuel López, Lecturer at Texas State University, works in Latin Music Studies where he directs ensembles and teaches Salsa Arranging, Latin Music Methods, Afro-Caribbean Hand Drumming and Private Lessons. Samuel has been active in the local salsa scene for over 20 years. Born in Puerto Rico, Samuel moved to Texas and began learning how to play Latin percussion from the teachings of family and friends. As a teenager, Samuel began playing in various Salsa and Merengue groups in the Killeen-Austin-San Antonio area. He later became a charter musician for the Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance Group in Austin, Texas. During his time with PRFDance, Samuel worked and learned from Puerto Rican folkloric masters Don Modesto Cepeda, Los Pleneros De La 21, Grupo Paracumbe, William Cepeda, Grupo Guateque, and Gíbaro de Puerto Rico.

In 2005, Samuel began his studies in Music Education at Texas State University-San Marcos, where he became the official timbal player for the award winning Salsa Del Rio Band. In 2007 he participated in the recording of the album Lloraras which won the Downbeat Magazine Award for “Best Recording of the Year” in the Blues, Pop and Rock category. It was also during his years with Salsa del Rio that the group was awarded the “Best Salsa Band of the Year” three times in a row at the Premios a la Musica Latina ceremony hosted by Univision in San Antonio, Texas. In addition, Samuel performed with Salsa Del Rio at the 2007 Montreaux Jazz Festival and the 2008 Notre Dame Jazz Festival. In 2009 Samuel graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and in 2011, earned a Master of Music in Latin Music Performance from Texas State University.

Samuel has had the honor of studying congas under the late great David “La Mole” Ortiz, and has performed with Larry Harlow, Luisito Carrión, Brian Lynch, Hector Tricoche, Memo Acevedo, Pete Rodriguez Jr., Nilsa “Cita” Rodriguez, Victoria Sanabria, Georgie Padilla, and Paquito Guzman.

In 2009, Samuel recorded and provided comments for ethnomusicologist Dr. Robin Moore’s book Music in the Hispanic Caribbean, and was appointed interim Director of the Hispanic Caribbean Ensemble at the University of Texas in the spring of 2012 and 2015.

Samuel is a member of Austin’s Cienfuegos and La Moña Loca for which he has written and arranged music. He also plays congas and arranges for Orquesta Trabuko and frequently performs with a variety of other professional groups.  Samuel is a member of TMEA and the Percussive Arts Society.

Samuel has a passion for the music of his native Puerto Rico, especially bomba and plena.  Besides having the opportunity to learn and perform with some of the top performers and legends in these genres, Samuel has done research in bomba and plena and continues to humbly study the traditions and performance techniques of both styles.