Jerry Rivera at the Cuban Festival

More than 30,000 people attended the Cuban Festival, which took place Aug. 2-4 at Riis Park in Chicago. In addition to carnival rides, tasty traditional foods, and booths, the attendees enjoyed great music performances by headliners like Timbalive, Cachao and Jerry Rivera. EXTRA was the only newspaper who talked to headlining singer Jerry Rivera backstage about his music, roots and involvement with the Cuban Festival.

EXTRA: How do you feel being here and headlining the Cuban festival?
Jerry Rivera: It’s a pleasure! It is a great opportunity to be here.

What makes your music different than any other salsa music out there?
I grew up hearing bolero music because my father is a bolero singer. I love African American music and bolero, and I combine both of them. I started my career singing when I was 15 years old. The message is very different from 15 to 20 and that is the difference.

What has changed in the music industry since you started?
Internet has changed everything. It’s a new business, a different way to merchandise. I still love old school, the CD, it feels more personal. In the long term, it’s going to get better. Maybe not now but the reality is you don’t make as much money as you did before in the past.

What inspires you?
My country, my family, my friends. Even people that I don’t know. The history.

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