AboutVictor Manuelle, born Víctor Manuel Ruiz on September 27, 1968 in New York, New York, is a successful Latin Grammy nominated Puerto Rican American salsa singer, songwriter, and improvisational sonero, known to his fans as El Sonero de la Juventud ("The Youth's Sonero"). He is identified primarily with salsa romantica or "salsa monga", but has also experimented with styles ranging from Colombian vallenato to urban reggaeton. Unlike other young salsa performers such as Marc Anthony, he has neither recorded in English, nor made a Latin pop album, nor (with rare exceptions) ventured into acting, preferring to remain a musician grounded within salsa music.
Although born in New York, Victor was raised primarily in Añasco and Isabela, Puerto Rico. Growing up in Puerto Rico had a great impact on his youth as he enjoyed salsa music (which was immensely popular in Puerto Rico at the time). His singing career began by chance, during a concert at his high school's graduation party by salsa superstar Gilberto Santa Rosa. At the instigation of classmates, who were going on about their friend the sonero, Santa Rosa invited Victor to jump up on stage and sing a song with him. To Santa Rosa's surprise, not only could Victor sing, but he "free-styled" the improvisational soneo lyrics in the song, and traded soneos with Santa Rosa. Shortly thereafter, on Santa Rosa's recommendation, Puerto Rican bandleader Don Periñon hired teenage Victor as a backup singer. During these years of apprenticeship he performed with numerous salsa greats.
Thanks again to Santa Rosa, Manuelle was eventually signed as a solo artist to Sony Tropical. His debut album, Justo A Tiempo ("Just in Time"), which Santa Rosa produced, was released in 1993. (A list of his albums and notable songs appears in the Victor Manuelle discography.)
Victor Manuelle has become one of the best-selling salsa performers of recent years, with his albums selling a combined 1 million-plus copies in the U.S. Three studio albums, 1999's Inconfundible ("Unmistakable"), 2001's Instinto Y Deseo ("Instinct and Desire") and 2004's Travesía ("Crossover"), have cracked Billboard's overall Top 200 Albums chart, and the latter two reached #1 on the Latin Album chart (Inconfundible reached #2). Interestingly, while several of his singles have made the Top 5 or Top 10 on the Latin charts, he had to wait for 2004's Tengo Ganas ("I'm in the Mood") to score a Billboard #1 Latin hit.
Perhaps his moment of greatest visibility came when he, to the happy surprise of the attendees, sang an a cappella version of Celia Cruz's signature song, La Vida Es Un Carnaval ("Life is a Carnival"), at her funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York in July 2003. This scene was replayed numerous times in the ensuing days on Spanish-language television. A few months before, he had performed the song for Miss Cruz, with full orchestra, at a televised tribute concert for her, the last one at which she ever performed on stage. (When he recorded his live album at Carnegie Hall in late 2004, his closing number was another rousing rendition of La Vida Es Un Carnaval.) In 2008 he was approach by the Diva of Puerto Rico Yolandita Monge to do a duet in the album "Mala". The song is called "Oportunidad Perdida."
Manuelle also is an increasingly accomplished and prolific songwriter, and now records mostly material he has written or co-written himself. His favorite composition, however, he wrote for Gilberto Santa Rosa: 2003's huge salsa hit Si Te Dijeron ("If They Told You").
Manuelle released his 10th studio album, Decisión Unánime ("Unanimous Decision"), in May 2006. Six months earlier, in November 2005, he and his mentor, Gilberto Santa Rosa, released a joint live album, Dos Soneros, Una Historia ("Two Soneros, One History"), recorded at Coliseo Roberto Clemente outside San Juan, Puerto Rico. Manuelle's own live album, Victor Manuelle En Vivo: Desde El Carnegie Hall, came out in early 2005.
He served as co-host of the 7th annual Latin Grammy awards show, held November 2, 2006, in New York.
Manuelle's first foray into movie acting was his cameo role (mostly singing) as salsa legend Rubén Blades in El Cantante, the 2007 film biography of Héctor Lavoe, starring Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. In 2008, Manuelle released his latest album, Soy ("I am), in June 10, 2008. Manuelle was one of several artists selected to perform in "KQ Live Concert" on September 27, 2008, organized by KQ 105 FM, the event included several renowned artists from Puerto Rico and other Latin American locations
Victor Manuelle is a divorced father of three (two girls and a boy), who says he prefers to spend his free time with his children and family, and playing pick-up basketball. He was romantically linked to actress Roselyn Sanchez for several years, until they ended their relationship in December 2005. He is reportedly known to his family by the nickname Vinki.