© Latinas in History 2008


To listen the song Tempranito
Eli Samuel Rodriguez and Grupo Yubá


From left to right Teofilo "Piro" Lopez, Roberto Perez y Eli Samuel Rodriguez. Photograph by Abigail "Abby" Rivera. Courtesy of Eli Samuel Rodriguez, 2008.
Eli Samuel Rodriguez a native of Guayama, Puerto Rico has resided in Chicago for over 30 years. It is in Chicago where he becomes a devoted enthusiast of the “Bomba” tradition. He began drumming in 1989, as one of the first participants of the first Bomba percussion workshops held at the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center. In 1991, the first Chicago bomba and plena group “Grupo Yuba” is born from these workshops and Eli plays a leading role in its development as a drummer and in 1996 becomes the director of the group. It is later on, in 1999 when Eli Samuel discovers his talent in songwriting. As an early bird bus driver, he often found himself waiting for his bus to begin his route and recalls that one morning “la musa” just came to him and he wrote his first song “Tocame La Bomba”. To date, he’s written more than 50 songs, including “Tempranito” featured in this documentary. In 2005, Grupo Yuba produces “Chicago Sabe a Bomba y Plena”, the first Bomba & Plena CD in the city of Chicago in which all of the songs was written by Eli Samuel. Eli Samuel has collaborated with many organizations, schools and universities by providing workshops and musical presentations and has been the recipient of many awards for his commitment to furthering the education of the Bomba & Plena genre. One of the awards he is most proud of receiving was this past January 2008, where he was presented with a special recognition award in his home township of Guayama for his participation at the 4th Annual Bomba and Art Festival and dedication to maintaining our Afro-Puerto Rican cultural roots alive from afar.