RAFAEL ENERGÍA DOMINICANA
(Also known as Rafael & Energía Dominicana)
Latin music Singer, Songwriter, Producer, Bandleader
Born in Bani, Dominican Republic, based in Montréal, Canada
Oye ke lindo suenaaaa!
« 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)
La Medaille de Reconnaissance (The Medal of Recognition), Héritage Hispanique Québec, Canada, 2021
Artista del Público (Public Artist) Latin Awards Canada, 2020
Merengue of the Year Latin Awards Canada, 2015
20 x Nominee 2015-2021, Latin Awards Canada
Rafael Energía Dominicana (Wilsikin Medina ‘Rafael’) is a Montreal, Quebec, Canada based singer, songwriter, bandleader and producer. He was born in Bani, in the province of Peravia in the Dominican Republic, an hour’s drive south of Santo Domingo. Bani has been called the city of poets and is 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 often 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 used to sing on Bani radio ‘La Voz del Sur. Rafael’s father, Patricio Medina was an agricultor. Rafael helped his father with the land and also worked in carpentry, but he did not like this kind of work because he loved music and just 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 a 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 and Kuky hired Rafael as lead singer. 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 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 launched the orchestra Rafael & Energía Dominicana. The group has performed at a variety of high-profile festivals and events across Canada including The Montreal International Jazz Festival, The 2015 Pan American Games Toronto, The Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, Vancouver 2010 Cultural Paralympic Games, Calgary Expo Latino, Edmonton Latin Fiesta, Saskatoon World & Reggae Festival, for a variety of events with the Dominican Republic Tourism Board. Rafael & Energía Dominicana opened for Latin music mega stars Gente de Zona at L’Olympia de Montreal and for Elvis Crespo at the Festival International des Rythmes du Monde de Saguenay in 2018.
His debut album Enamorarse en la playa is released on the renowned UK based music label ARC Music. 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. Rafael received the “Merengue of the Year” award from the Latin Awards Canada for his energetic and manic merengue “Tirando Duro”. The balada “Sembrando Amor” held the #1 chart position for 10 weeks at Montreal’s MIKE-FM/'Romanticos with Kiko & Dany. The single "Bailame", an original merengue with a contemporary sound was the #1 song at Radio CKXL FM in Manitoba for 3 weeks. 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. The album received a variety of critical acclaim including 4-star reviews from respected media 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 and support the ARC release of Enamorarse en la playa, Rafael launched his international career in the Dominican Republic in 2018. This included 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. He also presented an introductory media tour that included !El Mismo Golpe! with renowned host and personality Jochy Santos.
In 2019, ARC Music released a new stand-alone single “Mi bachatica” by Rafael, - a passionate, contagious, and danceable bachata that combines elements of cha-cha-cha. The song was produced by Edward Segura in the Dominican Republic. Rafael & Energía Dominicana debuted the song live and dedicated it to The Montreal International Jazz Festival’s 40th Anniversary Edition. "Mi bachatica" has received wonderful play and streaming that includes selection on the AMAZON MUSIC “Bachata Hoy” playlist; Stingray Music programming on three channels (“Mi Verano Tropical 2019”, “Bachateame Mami” and “Noche de Bachata”) and charting on the Fuvi-Clan Bachata Chart (France). CBC Radio "Let's Go" in Montreal, Canada interviewed Rafael and featured the song, and it has received play that includes Radio Bani-Kalle in the Dominican Republic and from a variety of radio programs, clubs- Djs in Montreal and other cities in Canada, USA and internationally. It is included on the #nuestramusicatropical worldwide campaign from the esteemed Naxos En Español music distribution company. The song is heard in Tik Tok videos and appears on social media for a variety of bachata dance classes and Zumba classes.
Rafael returned to the Dominican Republic in 2019 for his first official media tour in Santo Domingo, Santiago and Bani. This includes performances with full orchestra on popular Dominican television programs such as “De extremo a extremo”, “Bebeto TV” and more. He shot the video clip for "Mi bachatica" in Puerto Plata, directed by Pedro Sanchez-psdroning. It was debuted on "TV Plata" in Puerto Plata, Téléritmo V and Global TV in Canada. Rafael performed “Mi bachatica” live at the Latin Awards Canada 2019.
While touring and recording plans came to an abrupt halt in 2020 because of the global pandemic, “Mi bachatica” continued to be promoted digitally and received wonderful acclaim and airplay. During this challenging period of lockdowns and show cancellations, Rafael dedicated himself to writing an producing new music. He wrote the song “Pronto volveremos a abrazarnos” (“Soon we will embrace again”) featuring Jhon Martinez and produced by Edward Segura in the Dominican Republic. It is a positive and optimistic song to motivate and encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The song was selected by the Instituto de Auxilios y Viviendas OFICIAL (INAVI RD) in the Dominican Republic (Institute of Aid and Housing) for a campaign to encourage vaccination against COVID-19. INAVI RD produced a variety of video clips featuring the song including one with the President of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader.
At the end of 2020, Rafael was honoured to receive the Artista del Público (Public Popular Vote) award at the Latin Awards Canada 2020, the ceremony that honours Canadian Latin music artists. This is Rafael’s 2nd Latin Awards Canada prize in addition to 20 x nominations to date. (As mentioned earlier, he received the “Merengue of the Year “ prize for his song "Tirando duro" at the first edition in 2015). He is an honoured recipient of La Medaille de Reconnaissance (The Medal of Recognition)2021 from Héritage Hispanique Québec, Canada.
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!”