Rafael Energía Dominicana
Singer, Songwriter, Producer (SOCAN)
Born in Bani, Dominican Republic, based in Montréal, 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 Medina) is a Montreal, Quebec, Canada based singer, songwriter, bandleader and producer born in Bani, 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 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 Orquidea 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 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 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. 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 independently 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 a Premios Latinos Canada Award for “Merengue of the Year” for his composition, the intensely energetic and manic merengue “Tirando Duro”. While still in its demo format, 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.
In 2017, Enamorarse en la playa was released internationally on the renowned world music label, ARC Music, the original pioneers in world music for more than 30 years and who were the first to put folk & world music on CD in the 1980’s. 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 and support 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 and he also presented an introductory media tour that included !El Mismo Golpe! with renowned host and personality Jochy Santos.
2019-2020: Rafael started writing new music for his upcoming new album. Rafael & Energía Dominicana debuted and dedicated a new single “Mi bachatica” 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 Sanchez- PSDRONING. The single will be released internationally by ARC Music in September 2020 and will be the first single from his next album in 2021.
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 is forever attached to his roots and produced Enamorarse en la playa with his culture at heart, combined with creating an essence of a place he loves the most: the dance floor. In December of 2016, Rafael Wilsikin Medina became a permanent resident of Canada and his global musical journey began. Rafael always believed 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 Wilsikin Medina.
RAFAEL ENERGÍA DOMINICANA