Home PR Project Anatomy of a Tune: Sonora Ponceña’s Boranda and the Boranda Challenge

Anatomy of a Tune: Sonora Ponceña’s Boranda and the Boranda Challenge


BORANDA, was composed by the Brazilian singer, guitarist, and composer Edu Lobo (Eduardo de Góes “Edu” Lobo), who achieved fame in the 1960s during the Bossa Nova movement. The song appears on the album EDU E BETHANIA (Elenco, 1966).

The word, Boranda, has no specific meaning however some speculate it’s a play on the (Portuguese) words, “Embora Andar,” which means to Continue Walking.

How Papo Lucca discovered the song is not known but according to several sources, Ruben Blades translated the lyrics (Portuguese to Spanish). Boranda is track #1 on the album, El GIGANTE DEL SUR (The Giant of the South, Inca Records, 1977). The vocalist is Luigi Texidor (his last album with the group), and the coro (chorus) includes Hector Lavoe and Ruben Blades. Also featured is the Puerto Rican songstress, Yolanda Rivera. In this writer’s opinion, El Gigante del Sur is one of the groups finest recordings.


Ay, Boranda, the land dried up,

Ay, Boranda, the rain did not come,

Ay, Boranda, the land dried,

Ay, Boranda, the rain did not come.


I made more than a thousand promises

I recited so many prayers

It must be that I pray low

That God did not listen to me

It must be that I pray low

That God did not listen to me.


I am passing (the land). I am crying

I remember the place.

What separates Boranda from the rest of the album is Papo Lucca’s impromptu jazz scat (3:39 to 5:08). Today, the scat is the inspiration for The Boranda Challenge, a series of videos that capture emerging artists interpreting the scat in creative and sometimes surprising ways.

Forty-three years after Papo Lucca fused salsa with jazz, Boranda continues to ignite dance floors and inspire legions of emerging musicians.

ARTISTS IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE: Multi-instrumentalist Jailene Michelle, guitarist Lolivone De La Rosa, and trombonist Angel Subero. For more on the Boranda Challenge visit YouTube.


Since its inception in 1954, the legendary band La Sonora Ponceña has been one of the most consistent and forward-thinking producers of salsa music. Led by Enrique “Quique” Lucca Caraballo, born in Yauco, Puerto Rico, it has included and collaborated with many of the most talented artists in the world of salsa.

The band evolved from a group called the Conjunto Internacional, formed by Lucca in 1944. That group included Antonio Tato Santaella on bongos, who remained with Lucca for many years.

Lucca was a fan of the Cuban band Sonora Matancera and their musical style that utilized a full percussion section, with trumpets in the horn section for harmony and with the piano and voices. In naming the group, Lucca added the group’s home city of Ponce thus, Sonora Ponceña.

Enrique “Papo” Lucca Jr. was born in 1946 and displayed enormous talent as a child. Destined to join and make a major contribution to the Sonora Ponceña family.

The group evolved in 1956 to include pianist Vicentico Morales and the young Papo at the piano arranging. At 12, Papo recorded his first piano solo. Other early recordings included the popular vocalists Felipe Rodriguez and “Davilita.”

In 1960, the band traveled to New York City to perform at the Manhattan Center and the Puerto Rico Theater. The band was well received.

Papo went on to refine his skills at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music, emerging as an accomplished musician and arranger.

During these early years, the group was known mostly for its guarachas and boleros. Also, they utilized different singers that worked with other groups. The band stabilized when Tito Gomez joined the band and stayed until 1974.

1968 was a notable year for the group as Quique stepped aside as musical director, leaving his son Papo in charge, and the group embraced the new high fidelity LP technology in their recordings. Papo’s musical direction included a fusion of modern style traditional Cuban sounds with jazz and improvisations. The group also expanded to four trumpets. Also, Luigi Texidor came on board as a lead singer, and Miguel Ortiz who began as timbalero replaced Tito Gomez. Lastly, Yolanda Rivera and Toñito Ledee came on as lead singers. These elements would define the Sonora Ponceña “sound” for many years.

The next year, the group recorded its first LP album on the Inca label, which included the hit song ” Hachero Pa’ Un Palo” and set the stage for the world’s discovery of this seminal salsa band. Also, they recorded the hit, “Fuego en el 23” and recorded thirty more albums on the Inca label.

By 1980, the group had become a great success but perhaps their best work was still ahead of them. Salsa Romantica was hot and the band adjusted to new styles and commercial forces without abandoning the trademarks of their prior success. Papo shone as pianist and arranger and was in great demand. Also, he was featured as an important part of the Fania All-Stars and collaborated with many artists.

The group continues to perform, often reviving the classic songs that made them great. Their recent association with the Salsa Congress has won them new fans that have delighted in the discovery of a group that was instrumental in the genre’s history. The group recently celebrated its 60th Anniversary and by all accounts, is still going strong.


El Gigante del Sur (Inca, 1977, Fania, 2019)
Determination (Musica Latin International, 1982)
On Target (Fania Reissue, 2019)
Sonora Ponceña – A Band And Their Music (Fania Reissue, 2019)

A graduate of Empire State College with a dual major in journalism and Latin American studies, Editor-in-Chief Tomas Peña has spent years applying his knowledge and writing skills to the promotion of great musicians. A specialist in the crossroads between jazz and Latin music, Peña has written extensively on the subject. His writing appears on Latin Jazz Network; Chamber Music America magazine and numerous other publications.


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