Born in Spanish Harlem to Puerto Rican immigrants, Louis Antonio Castro had a voice I can only liken ice cream! It was sweet, it was smooth, it was a treat at any time and it was so very, very cool! It has been said that this voice was inherited from musician on both sides of his family, for whom he owed his Latin music roots, for this was their chosen genre of music to play….but Louis was also influenced by soul and pop and drew inspiration from the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington and Nat King Cole.
At an early part of his career he decided take on the stage name, Tony Amaro in order to avoid association with the famous Cuban leader. He released his first record in 1960 on the Chicago label, Stacy Records and
His first record, Heart and Soul, was released in 1959 on the Chicago-based label, Stacy Records, followed that same year by a vocal appearance on The Peter King Chorale’s, Little Shepherd Boy. A good few years later he teamed up with Gospel group The Sweet Chariots and went on to release a single on Warner Bros subsidiary Loma Records. Considered one of his most notable 45’s was W.E.L.F.A.R.E. Issued on his own Universal International label in 1971, there were only a few hundred copies ever pressed, making an original a very sought after and valuable find!
The song laments the difficulties of a man in Spanish Harlem who attempts to hold onto his dignity through times of poverty. Emotive and highly soulful, Castro’s vocals resonate heftily on the heartstrings, his plight a burdensome tone soulfully echoing out through those seamless vocals. Backed with the dulcet tones of Why Can’t I Have You, both tracks are pretty contrasting…but the one constant is that velvet voice. Luckily, for anyone wishing to own a copy of these songs, both have since reissued. Jazzman Records issued their own copy in 2012 followed by Athens of the North’s issue last year! Enjoy!