Louie Cruz Beltran has crafted a musical career built upon the soulful sounds of his ethnic background and flavored with the edge of contemporary R&B, Jazz and Pop. Steeped in music from early childhood, Beltran's first memories recall his mother singing gospel and Mexican folk tunes.
My mother was always singing and liked to play piano. There was always music in the house. She loved to sing everything from church hymns to Benny Goodman hits, but to me Mom always sounded prettiest in Spanish.
By the time he reached the third grade, Beltran was experimenting with rhythms on the bongos and learning to play the guitar. In high school he joined The Sadistic Velvet Blues, a self-proclaimed hippie band following the influences of The Rolling Stones and Iron Butterfly.
However, it was the early recordings of artists such as Ray Barretto, Mongo Santa Maria and Perez Prado that sparked Louie's interest. Captivated by the Afro-Cuban beat he chose to pursue the art of percussion, specializing in the congas and timbales. The beauty of Afro-Cuban music stole my heart, Beltran said, I was born to play congas. I am a rumbero.
Beltran began his formal music education while attending Bakersfield City College in the early 1970's. He played with the Bakersfield Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Doc Woods and later worked as a percussionist on The Writer's Album as a member of the Cal State Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Charles Argersinger.