Johnny Vega inducted into Rochester Music Hall of Fame

Salsa music pioneer Johnny Vega was inducted into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame May 5 at the Eastman Theatre.

A native of Puerto Rico, Vega moved to Rochester in 1970. He played numerous gigs while composing music and soon caught the ear of music industry giants. When big names came to town, Vega made it a point to meet with them and offer songs. This led to his “Pancuco” being recorded by the late Frankie Ruiz, according to information on the Rochester Music Hall of Fame website.

Over the years, Vega’s band played with Latin music legends Celia Cruz, La Poncena and Hector Lavoe. Vega is credited for influencing countless Salsa musicians internationally. When Salsa musicians meet him, they thank him and call him “maestro.” Vega also has been recognized by the City of Rochester and Rochester’s Hispanic Heritage Committee.

“I want the people, the Latin people, to know and share how I feel about them. How much I owe to them, because without them there is no Johnny Vega,” Vega said upon earning the Heritage Committee award.

Along with Vega, the Rochester Music Hall of Fame Class of 2024 included:

  • Rick Beato, a YouTube star/social media influencer, music producer, multi-instrumentalist
  • Jennifer Cody, Broadway and Disney-film star
  • John Ellison, vocalist and songwriter
  • Charlie Lowell and Matthew Odmark, keyboardist and guitarist of Grammy-winning Christian alternative-rock band “Jars of Clay”
  • Scott Mayo, Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter, saxophonist and flutist

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