FAIRFIELD — Domingo Quiñones used to stand in front of a mirror, singing and using a hairbrush as a microphone. He was too shy to sing in front of anyone, he said.
He took the first step at 14, singing at a rumba event in Patterson, New Jersey.
“It took courage to open my mouth,” he said.
Within a few days, he was working as a singer. Within a year, Quiñones said he had sung with every salsa and rumba band around Patterson.
That was 37 years ago.
The salsa star will headline the 13th annual Festival de la Isla in Vacaville on Saturday.
Attendees will hear songs from his latest CD, “De Vuelta al Amor,” released earlier this year, as well as all his hits.
He labels the new CD a “comeback record,” as well as one that identifies him.
“My first CD as a solo artist was romantic,” he said. “I was so successful with romantic music. But I knew I could take a break and do something else.”
Quiñones said he’ll give the Vacaville show his heart, with plenty of passion.
“I don’t have control when I’m singing,” he said. “I can’t save something for tomorrow.”
Festival de la Isla places an emphasis on families. Quiñones is the father of three and grandfather of two. He’s been with the same woman for 36 years.
“I cannot ask God for anything else,” he said. “I am so grateful for just being with the same woman and in music that long.”
Quiñones is also an actor. He’s doing a movie and plans to write books and movie scores.
“Probably in my 70s, I will just write books and songs,” he said. “That is the plan I have. The man upstairs may have another agenda for me. Whatever it is, I am going to do it. I am not going to go up against someone bigger than me.”
For now, it’s all about the fans at Festival de la Isla.
“I haven’t been to California in a little while,” he said. “I love that festival. You hug people. You get to kiss people and hold hands. You see people you haven’t seen in a long time. You meet new people.”
He began his career with the band Conjunto Nativo. He replaced Roberto Lugo in 1985 in the orchestra of Luis “Perico” Ortiz, with whom he recorded four albums.
Quiñones signed as a solo artist in 1990. After joining Tito Puente on his 100th record, Quiñones released his second solo album, which included the duet “Dos Amigos” with Tony Vega and a salsa version of the song “Crazy for You.”
Also performing at Festival de la Isla is Pedro Brull, known as “the sonero heavyweight” for his bulky figure and great size of his voice.
Other acts include Avance, Julio Bravo and Orquesta de la Isla.
Those who attend are encouraged to bring canned goods that will be donated to The Father’s House in Vacaville.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.