For music purists who don’t discriminate against any genre, the Miami Rocks Our Troops concert offers a joyous cornucopia of wildly eclectic sounds, featuring country, Latin pop, reggaeton, classic rock, dance-club music, a Puerto Rican living legend and even an “American Idol” winner.
The show – which hits UM’s BankUnited Center on Sat., Sept. 29 – boasts Miami homeboy and Grammy-winner Jon Secada, honky-tonk singer Billy Ray Cyrus, ZZ Top guitarist and frontman Billy Gibbons, reggaeton duo Angel & Khriz, iconic guitarist Jose Feliciano, “Idol” champ Kris Allen, club diva Erika Jayne and many more.
It’s a perfectly diverse mix of talent for a city like Miami, says the Cuban-born Secada, who is as proud of his humble beginnings on the streets of Hialeah as he is of his musical success, made possible by hard work, studying at UM, and a bit of an assist from Emilio and Gloria Estefan.
“Miami is a melting pot, and it keeps evolving and changing for the positive,” he says. “For me, it’s where everything started, it’s where my family is grass-rooted, it’s my culture. So it represents a lot – every single element that’s important to me.”
Giving back is always important to Secada, which is the main reason he signed up for this show, which honors American veterans and their families, and raises awareness and funds for HonorVet.org.
“I always thank God for giving me success in my career, and I’ve always felt with that a responsibility to do something when I can,” he said. “So any time I’m able to do something like this, I’m there.”
Feliciano – who’s best known for his jazzy, acoustic cover of The Doors’ classic hit “Light My Fire, his enduring Christmas song “Feliz Navidad” and his version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” (which he performed at this year’s opening day at the new Marlins Stadium) – will perform a track or two from his latest album, “The King,” which pays tribute to Elvis Presley. But don’t get your hopes up for “Feliz Navidad”: “It’s too early.”
Feliciano, who was “invited by my good friend Emilio Estefan” to perform at Marlins Stadium, also jumped at the chance to perform for charity.
“I’m always happy to do what I can for the troops,” he said. “The concert is benefiting HonorVet.org and their mission of supporting service members with the necessary tools to adjust to life after the military. Our troops and their families sacrifice so much for us that participating in this great cause was the least I could do.”
Secada partially attributes his giving spirit to the Estefans, as he began his career as a backup singer for Gloria and ended up co-writing one of her biggest hits, “Coming Out of the Dark,” after her recovery from a near-fatal accident. During that tour in 1991, Secada was given the opportunity to perform solo, and his career took off from there, with his debut album selling more than six million copies, buoyed by the hit “Just Another Day.”
“Gloria Estefan is the reason I have a career as a singer-songwriter,” he said. “And over all the years seeing the Estefans doing great, wonderful things, especially supporting what starts here in South Florida, inspires me.”
Secada went on to even greater things, singing with opera legend Luciano Pavarotti and recording a duet with Frank Sinatra (“Those were blessings. I mean, they were things that I never thought in a million years could have happened”). He even starred on Broadway in “Grease,” as Danny Zuko, made famous in the classic 1978 film by John Travolta.
“It was amazing because I was one of the first Latin crossover artists to do that,” he said. “So that meant a lot to me. Danny Zuko is an iconic American part, and I was the first Cuban Danny Zuko, you know? So that was great.”