Los Pleneros de la 21, the premier East Harlem-based performing ensemble and non-profit community organization, was founded in 1983 by Juan J. ‘Juango’ Gutiérrez (National Endowment on the Arts’ Heritage Fellow, 1996) and the legendary Master Plenero Marcial Reyes Arvelo. Having toured extensively both nationally and internationally for over three decades, ‘LP21’ is considered by many as New York’s preeminent Bomba and Plena ambassadors to the world, bringing Puerto Rican culture to Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Latin America, Australia, Berlin, The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, The Kremlin (former Soviet Union) and countless other international cities and prominent venues.
The LP21 ensemble, an exceptional mix of Puerto Rican Folk Masters and professional musicians, are all united in their common cause to expose the importance of traditional Puerto Rican music, has pioneered the road for bomba and plena performance and is responsible for expanding platforms for continued performance, learning and the presentation of Bomba and Plena—paving the way for many other musicians who now share their stage.
LP21’s landmark community-based cultural and educational programs, such as Bomba and Plena Community Workshops for adult and kids, Bomba and Plena In the house for NYC school children, and Cultural Legacy Programs, have created a common space for the recognition, education and practice of Puerto Rican culture and identity. Their programs have educated thousands of individuals, young and old, and inspired dozens of performing groups and aspiring musicians to become leaders in their own right as they carry bomba and plena into the future for generations to come.
After more than 35 years of performances and a Grammy nomination for their groundbreaking album, Para Todos Ustedes, LP21 remains the dynamic family and intergenerational group of musicians and cultural leaders from East Harlem, the South Bronx and many of NYC’s own local communities. LP21’s latest album, Los Pleneros de la 21 Live at Pregones: 35 years of Bomba & Plena (Truth Revolution Records, Nov 2018), is an ode to the group’s long arduous yet satisfying journey – milestone indeed, of a lifetime of work, blood, sweat, tears and laughter of countless dedicated bomberos, pleneros, educators and cultural advocates, raising their spear in the name of Puerto Rican Bomba & Plena, and the makers of this tradition. The album marks a new era for LP21, with a younger generation of musicians taking leadership in re-envisioning LP21’s style and persona.