Louie Vega Biography
A leader in global dance music, Louie Vega has painted an award-winning
career from a palette mixed with everything from house, salsa, to
jazz, hip hop, gospel and soul.
What distinguishes the Grammy winner and 7-time nominee as one of the best living house music deejays is his ability to evolve alongside the times, distill the current musical landscape through his unique taste and put his own timeless spin on all the music he creates.
“Little” Louie Vega, as he is sometimes affectionately known, was born in the Bronx into a musically gifted family (his father is a jazz saxophonist and his uncle, Salsa King Héctor Lavoe). The “Little” moniker is ironic, given the fact that by the 80s he was deejaying at clubs he wasn’t even old enough to attend, holding residencies at Studio 54, Devil’s Nest, Heartthrob, and playing at the Palladium, Area, 1018 and other seminal New York City Clubs. Soon Vega was producing his own remixes and productions, which included Information Society’s “Running”, “What’s On Your Mind”, Noel’s “Silent Morning” & “Like A Child”, Cover Girl’s “Because Of You” & “Show Me (Hearthrob Dub)”, Nocera’s “Let’s Go”, India’s “Dancing On The Fire” and Debbie Gibson’s “Only in my Dreams” & “Out Of The Blue”.
Then in 1991 he joined Atlantic Records and recorded an album — hitting the mainstream. Teaming up with an up-and-coming Marc Anthony, he produced “Ride on the Rhythm” co-written with India & Derek Whitaker. An immediate club hit, the single put Vega and Anthony on the map. The duo would rock the club circuit with their success culminating when they opened for Tito Puente at his 100th Album concert at Madison Square Garden.
One of the keys to Vega’s success is his refusal to be boxed into any one category, marked by the various styles his songs play with and by his fruitful collaboration with other artists.
More success came in 1991 from the production team he created with Brooklyn- based deejay Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez. Masters at Work, as they were called, were responsible for the critically acclaimed albums “Nuyorican Soul” and “Masters At Work - Our Time is Coming. ” Not to mention the duo found the time to remix and/ or produce for Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, Madonna, Jamiroquai, Tito Puente, India, Janet Jackson, Tania Maria, George Benson, Black Eyed Peas, Femi Kuti, Jocelyn Brown, Los Amigos Invisibles, Bebe Winans and Earth Wind & Fire.
Vega, always hungry for a challenge, expanded into a new role of record label owner. Featuring a roster that included Anané Vega, Luisito Quintero, Elements Of Life & E.O.L. Soulfrito (his live bands), Mr. V, Boddhi Satva, Hugh Masekela, Roberto Roena, Lisa Fischer, Sara Divine, and Cindy Mizelle, Vega Records has released over 180 singles and 11 Full Length CD / Albums. In addition, Louie Vega has released over 30 compilations (with over 2 million cds sold) on the industry’s most revered imprints, including Ministry of Sound Recordings, Defected Records, King Street, Azuli, Division (Italy), BBE, Concept, R2, and Strictly Rhythm records.
Like his businesses, Vega’s music also flourished. In 2006, he received a Grammy Award for his remix of Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly” on Rhino Records. Then, not more than a year later, Cirque Du Soleil approached him and the house-music group Blaze to compose and produce a song for a once in a lifetime event. Anané Vega sang the lead and the Elements Of life band performed the song “One Dream” to the acrobatics and art of Cirque Du Soleil during the 2007 Super Bowl Pre-Game Show to over 70,000 people at Miami’s Dolphin Stadium. The performance was viewed by 145 million television viewers.
...Yet as we move through the twenty-tens, Louie shows no signs of slowing down...
Vega’s global fandom requires the famed producer extraordinaire to be in many places at once. Radio was a natural extension to his dj performances. In 2010, Vega and Kevin Hedge started a show, Roots NYC Live Radio Show on WBLS 107.5 (New York’s longest running and biggest R&B and soul radio station). Rated the #3 radio show in New York on Friday night, they air every Friday from 10PM – Midnight (stream live www.wbls.com). To keep the music flowing on all continents, Vega can also be heard on his show with over 27,000 followers on twitch with his Expansions NYC Pop Ups. (twitch.tv/louievega)
Ever the music innovator, in 2013 Vega released Elements of Life – Eclipse on the legendary Fania records. The record, 4 1⁄2 years in the making, keeps the style of Vega’s earlier albums intact (African, Jazz, Latin, World), but is mixed with Soul, R&B, Gospel and Blues sounds. Featured artists on the album include Anané Vega, Josh Milan, Lisa Fischer, Cindy Mizelle, Ursula Rucker, Jose Mangual Jr., Luisito Quintero, Oveus Maximus and an all-star cast of musicians.
The album’s occasion was momentous because it was the first ‘new artist’ album Fania released in years. In Vega’s words, “...It really comes full circle now, being able to be on the label my uncle Héctor Lavoe was on and the Fania All Stars who are all great inspirations for me. Fania Records is to Latin music what
Motown is to R&B and Soul, so to even be a small page in this encyclopedia of music is a dream come true.” 2016 was a monumental year for Vega. His emblematic 2016 album Louie Vega Starring... XXVIII was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Dance / Electronic Album. After 30 years in music, Vega reached a distinct and unmatched level in his career. He knew where global sounds live and hide. And he skillfully capitalized on relationships with the leaders of those sounds by understanding what they represent and how they could be infused. There are few times in an artist’s career where their sonic pallet and connections with other artists reach a level of pure magic. This album was the latest testament to Louie’s growing legacy as a master bricoleur. Starring...XXVIII was a dual disc conceptual record featuring over twenty-five artists on twenty-eight different songs. Collaborators on the album included George Clinton & Funkadelic, 3 Winans Brothers & the Clark Sisters, Josh Milan, Ananè Vega, Lisa Fischer, N’Dea Davenport, Caron Wheeler, Monique Bingham, Jocelyn Brown and more.The record was Louie Vega’s first solo album and a contender for his magnum opus.
And music critics weren’t the only ones celebrating Vega’s influence and impact. Kanye West released his seventh studio album, “The Life of Pablo” to ravishing fanfare and spectacle. One of the album’s standout tracks and fan favorite was “Fade,” which found West diggin’ in the crates to sample two Vega and Barbara Tucker classics - “Deep Inside” by Hardrive featuring Barbara Tucker and “I Get Lifted” by Barbara Tucker. Vega and West fans alike rejoiced thinking of the amazing studio sessions involved in creating the original and the contemporary version with the classic. Once again, Vega was a part of the construction of bridges that traversed boundaries and brought people together through music.
It’s worth mentioning that Kanye wasn’t the only hip hop superstar lending his raps to Vega’s sound. Compton- MC Kendrick Lamar jumped on the remix of “Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You”, the standout track from Vega’s 28 album featuring the pioneering funk legends, Funkadelic and their leader, George Clinton. The power of Vega’s ability to serve as a sonic liaison on full display.
2018 was another MONSTER year for Vega. He worked in the the studio with fellow jet setters and DJ duo The Martinez Brothers on a new album project. Their first release “Shut The Door” featured the vocals of Hector Lavoe on an energetic techno track that hit dance floors worldwide, truly bringing together 3 generations. Soon after, Louie Vega & The Martinez Brothers created the track to the smash hit “Let It Go” penned and performed by West Coast talent Marc Bassy. After the release of this floor scorcher on Cutting Headz it was licensed by Defected Records with remixes by the trio and added remixes by Vulture Culture & Dom Dolla. The Records smashed twice with over 30,000,000 listens on spotify alone ! Vega and Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez (Masters at Work) also geared up for new releases with Kenlou & Masters At work on their newly revamped label Maw Records. Vega also released in June 2018 his new album “NYC Disco” on Nervous Records paying homage to the sounds of disco and the celebrated Sam Records Catalog. The creative collective Elements Of Life kept their momentum, playing to a sold out audience at Royal Festival Hall / Southbank Centre London. Vega provided a sneak peak of the tour’s energy in October 2016 when he played to a crowd of 22,000 people over the course of two days at South Africa’s Delicious Food and Music Festival. Vega brought along featured artists such as Lisa Fischer, Josh Milan, Anané Vega, Monique Bingham, Bucie, Adeva, with a special appearance by Roy Ayers acompanied by the Elements Of Life Band.
During summers Anané and Louie Vega carried on the tradition with their events “The Ritual with Anané & Louie Vega”, an outdoor party held at prestigious indoor venues and beach clubs around the world drenched in the sounds of House, Global Disco, Afro tech and Old School. The Ritual has toured the Mediterranean every summer since 2010, including a two-year residency at the Blue Marlin Beach Club in Ibiza. They played at the famed Ushuaïa Hotel and released a Sunset Ritual cd/dvd. Anané & Louie Vega continue the party’s legacy during summer 2018 coming back to Ibiza for their second year residency at Heart with the Ritual, and the continued annual touring of the Mediterranean. Guests and friends at The Ritual With Anané & Louie Vega at Heart Ibiza have included Moodymann, The Martinez Brothers, Joseph Capriati, Soul Clap, Nicole Moudaber, Cassy, Henrik Schwartz, Kenny Dope, Mike Dunn, & David Morales.
Vega also kept his residency and created an Expansions NYC party in his New York City hometown, bringing light to the NYC underground dance culture with industry heads and global visitors on Wednesday nights. Louie Vega’s famed “Expansions NYC” party became known for taking his devoted dancers, music lovers, and followers on a musical trip featuring his signature mix of new tracks, club bombs and classics. He would play from open to close, and on any given night the Expansions NYC event would turn into a surprise jam session featuring seasoned musicians, poets, and singers. The night became extremely successful and demonstrated such unique energy that it inspired Louie to record a full album of newly produced tracks for an Expansions In The NYC Full Length release. It turned into something truly special with guest appearances by Robyn, Honey Dijon, Bernard Fowler, Moodymann, Kerri Chandler, Anané, Lisa Fischer, Josh Milan, Tony Momrelle, Karen Harding, Janine Sugah Lyons & the super band Unlimited Touch. Released on Nervous Records, the album was released as a 4 pack gatefold vinyl package, and a 10 unit 7" box set, as well as on all digital and streaming platforms, and received mass worldwide acclaim in multiple platforms.
New upcoming music with the Masters At work duo releasing the Maw Lost Tapes, when digging into their archives of 2” inch tapes they have found a mass number of unreleased tracks dating from 1991 - 1996, retweaked with monthly releases leading all the way til 2025. In the studio now producing albums for Masters At Work and Nuyorican soul ready to bring forth fresh new sounds for 2024.
Vega in the studio now producing along with the Martinez Brothers following up to their hit single “Let It Go” have brought forth a number of newly produced tracks ready for the next chapter with the Bronx born/bred Louie Vega & The Martinez Brothers. Vega Records with upcoming releases by Mr. X, Domo Domo, Elements Of Life, and Tony Touch. Nervous Records releases “Take A Ride” Anane’s Disco 6 track ep, and Remixes from the Album Expansions In The NYC by Honey Dijon, Masters At Work, Seth Troxler, Dj Deep, and more are just a taste of what’s to come.
Coming up for 2023, Louie accepted a residency in New York premier big room venue Knockdown Center and brought along his family and friends Anané Vega, Moodymann, Theo Parish, Joe Claussell, Deon Cole, and for this summer 2023 along with Anané has confirmed an unheard of 19 week residency with an all star line-up for The Ritual With Anané brand at one of Ibiza’s most prestigious venues Club Chinois. Breaking down musical barriers and bringing people together through a love and passion for music has always been Vega’s aim; after more than 20 years in the game his contributions continue to positively influence global dance music. Listen closely as the best has yet to come from Louie Vega!