Jazz Musician, Composer, Writer
Cuban-born Mr. D'Rivera began playing the clarinet and the saxophone with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra as a child with dreams of New York in his eyes. "Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a musician in the city of New York," he explains, looking back on his six Grammys and the 30 solo albums under his belt. Although he has achieved his dream and received numerous accolades for his work, it has come at a cost.
"In order to go to my own country, I have to get a visa," he says. "It's immoral to ask for a visa to go home. Eleven million Cubans are my family … I didn't want to do it in exile, but at least I am in a city, in a place I want."
Beginning his career as a teenager performing with various ensembles, Mr. D'Rivera worked as the co-director of Irakere, a jazz, rock, classical, and traditional Cuban music band that won a Grammy in 1979. Since then, he has received numerous awards, including the Clarinet of the Year 2004 award from the Jazz Journalists Association and a 2003 doctorate honoris causa in Music from the Berklee School of Music. In addition to touring the world with the Chamber Jazz Ensemble, the Paquito D'Rivera Big Band, and the Paquito D'Rivera Quintet, he has expanded onto the printed page, composing original music and writing books.
Currently in Warsaw for the 250th anniversary of Mozart, he has a book, "Portraits and Landscapes," in the works as well as an upcoming piece he's writing for world-renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma. With such a busy schedule, Mr. D'Rivera says, "My life is a tour … Playing music is my goal. The only thing I am missing is playing for my own people in my own country."
Museum of Latin American Art
Since 1999, Mr. Luke has been the director of the Museum of Latin American Art. A Mexican art expert, he worked as the consul of cultural affairs at the Consulate General of Mexico and the first secretary of the embassy of Mexico in Washington, D.C. Mr. Luke was awarded a Mayoral Citation for the District of Columbia for promoting Mexican culture and the Irving Leonard Award from the Hispanic Society of the Library of Congress. He has given more than 500 lectures in museums and universities such as the Smithsonian Institution and Harvard.
A rising literary star, this former federal prosecutor turned author recently released her second mystery novel, The Finishing School: A Novel of Suspense. Like Melanie Vargas, the main character in her novels, Ms. Martinez served as an assistant U.S. attorney for eight years, covering some of the rough-and-tumble areas of Brooklyn and Queens. After five years of juggling motherhood and her demanding job, the Harvard-educated mother of two had a dream about a fire that killed a lawyer leading a double life -- which became the opening scene in her debut thriller Most Wanted.
Comedian, Star and Executive Producer
Mind of Mencia, on Comedy Central
Currently one of the most talked about comedians in the country -- his fourth CD was titled "Not for the Easily Offended" -- Mr. Mencia's "Mind Of Mencia" debuted on cable TV's Comedy Central in July 2005, and has seen its audience grow 50 percent, to 2.1 million, in its second season. The son of a Honduran father and Mexican mother, he was studying electrical engineering at Cal State Los Angeles when he launched his career after a successful amateur night appearance at a comedy club. Mr. Mencia went on to some success in both Spanish and English – "Funny is Funny" on Galavision, "Loco Slam" on HBO -- before a breakout special on Comedy Central in 2002 made him a household name.
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