2018 Florida Folk Heritage Award
For over 20 years, bandleader Pedro Bullaudy has served as the driving force behind the Tampa Bay Area’s salsa scene, delivering original arrangements, fresh energy and the best of Latin music repertoire. Bullaudy was born in Santiago de Cuba, but fled with his family in the freedom flights from Havana to Miami in the 1960s. After settling in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Bullaudy developed an interest in music and began playing trumpet. He came of age as salsa began to coalesce among Puerto Rican and Cuban musicians in New York. By 1975, Bullaudy began connecting with some of the now-revered musicians from the scene including the Fania All-Stars. He shared the stage with Latin music giants like Eddie Palmieri, Jose Fajardo and Charanga 76. In 1980, Bullaudy began performing with the progressive group, Cuba Song 80, with Edwin Bonilla who is known for his decades-long run with Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine.
Bullaudy relocated to Tampa in 1985 where he collaborated with local musicians and introduced salsa to a wider Tampa Bay audience. In 1990, he formed Orquesta Infinidad which was heavily influenced by the New York sound, and quickly developed a reputation as the premier salsa band in the Tampa Bay area. Orquesta Infinidad has performed twice at the Super Bowl, as well as at the Clearwater Jazz Festival, House of Blues, in a Netflix film, and in many local festivals.
According to bassist Elías Tona, “I consider Pedro not only a great musician, musical director and arranger, but also a great human being. He has made [Orquesta] Infinidad a cultural and musical icon for Tampa Bay.”