Rafael Energía Dominicana
Singer, Songwriter, Producer
Born in Bani, Dominican Republic, based in Montréal, Quebec, Canada
"Artist del Público" (Public Artist Vote) 2020, Latin Awards Canada
“Merengue del año” (Merengue Of The Year) For Tirando duro 2015, Latin Awards Canada
18 x Nominee 2015-2020, Latin Awards Canada
“He’s the real deal, a true “merenguero” and “bachatero”, 100% proud flag-bearer for Latin Music, especially the sounds and rhythms of his beloved native Dominican Republic. A truly contagious groove.” - Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
« Rafael Arias sings engaging, heavyweight and with great variety of riches. Perhaps he can be seen as an answer to Puerto Rico's icon Ricky Martin, but Rafael’s music is for me even more multi-faceted. » - 4 stars **** Kenneth Hammargren, VF. Värmlands Folkblad, Sweden, (English translation from original Swedish)
Rafael Energía Dominicana (Wilsikin ‘Rafael’ Medina) is a Montreal, Quebec, Canada based singer, songwriter and producer born in Bani, Dominican Republic. Bani is an hour’s drive south of Santo Domingo and has been called the city of poets. It is also known as one of the Dominican Republic’s cradle of baseball- many of its sons have gone on to play major league such as Miguel Tejada, Vladimir Guerrero, and Erick Aybal.
Rafael performs and composes different genres of Latin-tropical music, but he is mostly known as a merenguero and bachatero, as a composer and interpreter of these styles from the Dominican Republic. He started singing when he was 5 years old while at school and at church. Rafael is from a family of 11 brothers and sisters and he got his love of music from his mother Orquidia Arias who sang on Bani radio ‘La Voz del Sur. Rafael’s father, Patricio Medina was an agricultor. Rafael helped his father with the land and worked in carpentry, but he did not like this work, he just loved music too much and wanted to sing.
Rafael was inspired by artists such as José José, Emmanuel, Fernando Villalona ‘El Mayimbe’, Sergio Vargas and Alex Bueno because of their great talent, charisma and character. He sang backup vocals with hometown bands, but stage fright dissuaded him, so he dedicated himself to songwriting. In 1988, Rafael left the Dominican Republic in search of a better life to help his large family. He travelled to Panama, Mexico, United States and finally landed in Montreal, Canada where he met Kuky Carbuccia, musical director of the Latin orchestra Estofa Band. Kuky hired Rafael as lead singer and Estofa Band opening for many touring artists in Canada such as Aventura, Grupo Mania, Monchy & Alexandra and Toño Rosario. The group recorded an album that featured Rafael’s vocals and compositions. During these years, Rafael composed music for other artists including for Papa AP (2 songs on his album ‘Assessina’, Virgin, EMI) and he worked as a vocalist/back up vocalist for a variety of international touring artists during their Montreal appearances such as Cuco Valoy, Aramis Camilo, Charlie Rodriguez, Benny Sadel and Sandy Reyes. In 2009 Rafael met manager Glenda Rush of Vivo Musique Internationale and launched the orchestra Rafael & Energía Dominicana.
Rafael & Energía Dominicana performed at a variety of high profile festivals and events across Canada including The Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Pan American Games in Toronto, The Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, Festival International des Rythmes du Monde de Saguenay, Vancouver 2010 Cultural Paralympic Games, The University of Moncton in Edmundston, Calgary Expo Latino, Edmonton Latin Fiesta, Saskatoon World & Reggae Festival, a variety of events with the Dominican Republic Tourism Board among others. In 2016, Rafael & Energía Dominicana opened for Latin music mega stars Gente de Zona at L’Olympia de Montreal and in 2018 for Elvis Crespo at the Festival International des Rythmes du Monde de Saguenay.
At the end of 2013, Rafael & Energía Dominicana released the debut album Enamorarse en la playa on Vivo Musique in Canada. The album includes thirteen original compositions by Rafael from different Latin music genres such as merengue, bachata, salsa, bomba and balada, and was produced by Rafael, Pascal Laraque and Kuky Carbuccia and with Jesus Alejandro El Niño and Chris Perry. The album continues to receive critical acclaim and airplay including 8 x songs programmed on Stingray Music’s Latino Tropical stations in Latin America, Europe and Canada. In September 2015, Rafael received the award for “Merengue of the Year” from the Latin Awards Canada for his composition, the energetic merengue “Tirando Duro”. Rafael released a debut video clip for the bomba “Margarita” a song with an infectious groove with roots in the traditions of Porto Rico. It was directed by Vincent Egret, whose clips include the mega-hit “Danza Kuduro” by Don Omar featuring Lucenzo. In 2017, Enamorarse en la playa was released internationally on the renowned world music label ARC Music. It has gone on to receive critical acclaim including 4-star reviews from respected journalists such as Värmlands Folkblad Swedish Newspaper: « Rafael Arias sings engaging, heavyweight and with great variety of riches. Perhaps he can be seen as an answer to Puerto Rico's icon Ricky Martin, but Rafael's music is for me even more multi-faceted. » - Kenneth Hammargren, VF. To celebrate the ARC release, Rafael launched his international career in the Dominican Republic with prestigious Canada Day performances in Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata at the invitation of the Ambassador of Canada to the Dominican Republic, The Honourable Shauna Hemingway.
In 2019, Rafael started writing new music for his upcoming new album and launched a new single “Mi bachatica” dedicated to The Montreal International Jazz Festival’s 40th Anniversary Edition in honour of the festivities for Canadian Multiculturalism Day 2019. He launched a debut media tour with performances in the Dominican Republic and was featured with live orchestra on celebrated television programs such as De Extremo a Extremo and Bebeto TV. He also filmed the video clip for “Mi bachatica” in Puerto Plata that was produced and directed by Pedro Sánchez-PSDRONING. The single was released internationally by ARC Music-Naxos en español in September 2020 during the global corona virus pandemic.
While touring and recording plans came to an abrupt halt because of the global pandemic, “Mi bachatica” was promoted digitally and received wonderful acclaim and airplay including the Amazon Bachata Hoy playlist and the #nuestramusicatropical/Naxos En Español campaign worldwide. Throughout 2020, during the corona virus pandemic, like all artists Rafael had to revaluate and refocus activities because all of his concerts, festival, shows and recording plans were cancelled because of the quarantine issues. This brought a new challenge to create music and work with musicians. Rafael discovered virtual communications, live Zoom interviews and appearances that actually opened doors internationally: some highlights include an invitation to participate in a global song-video performance “Igual que tu” by Mannu Mgnl from Mexico, for covid relief; Rafael presented a pandemic version of his song “No toques fondo”; was featured vocalist for studio project with Uncle Hertz Productions (producer Marco Ditto) in Montreal for a compilation of Spanish language interpretations and translation of Québécois hits to be released in 2021-2022. Rafael Energía Dominicana performed at Les Belvederes a Seniors Residence in Lachine where he entertained during covid. He also gained notoriety in his neighbourhood of Chomedey. Laval for his daily walks and performances that touched hearts of many in his neighbourhood and was written about in the Laval Suburban Newspaper. At the end of 2020, Rafael was honoured to receive the Artista del Público (Public Popular Vote) at the Latin Awards Canada 2020. (this is Rafael’s second award at the Latin Awards Canada, he received the Merengue del año (Merengue of The Year) for his song "Tirando duro" in 2015. He has received a total of 18 x nominations at Canada’s most important awards ceremony for Canadian Latin music artists). Thorughout the pandemic and quarantine, Rafael has been working on pre-production of new repertoire for upcoming album by Rafael Energía Dominicana. Soon to be released is “Pronto volveremos a abrazarnos” which has been licenced in the Dominican Republic for a national health public service announcement to encourage the use of the vaccine. Rafael continues to produce the upcoming new music for his next album. He also worked with Montreal engineers and producers to build a small home recording studio to be able to do live and more production work on his own and continues to co-produce with his Québec team and abroad during this lockdown to prepare for an explosion of activities post pandemic.
Rafael, an artist often referred to as a fighter, or in Spanish, a luchador, is a passionate performer who never gave up his dream to present his music to the world. He believes that dreams come true and it is never too late to achieve your goals “when you have faith in God, you persevere and work tirelessly: “I am so proud to have this opportunity to share my Latin music with the world. Oye ke lindo suenaaaa!” - Rafael Energía Dominicana.
RAFAEL ENERGÍA DOMINICANA