Updated 07:29 AM EST, Thu, Dec 02, 2021

Joe Bataan the King of Latin Soul Shares Life Story, Music & Filipino Heritage in New Documentary

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The story of Joe Bataan as well as other Latino musicians who popularized Latin soul music will be featured in a new documentary entitled "We Like It Like That."

Bataan, who is widely-regarded as the King of Latin Soul, sat with Fox News Latino this week to promote the documentary as well as to talk about his humble beginnings and passion for music.

The 74-year old singer revealed that he spent most of his childhood in Spanish Harlem of New York. It was there in the Upper Manhattan neighborhood, during the 1950s, where he was exposed to both soul and salsa music.

As a budding musician in the 1960s, he wanted his music to be different from the popular artists of that era. He said that was the main reason why he joined the boogaloo movement, a musical revolution that merged soul and salsa.

Bataan helped popularized Latin soul by using English lyrics to accompany the upbeat rhythms of boogaloo music. He said, "It enhanced the Latin soul sound where people would go hear music but didn't understand the language. I gave them a chance to hear it in English and still keep the beat."

The El Barrio native was the man behind regional classics such as "Gypsy Woman," "Ordinary Guy," "Subway Joe" and "Young, Gifted and Brown." His Latin soul music was so popular back in the day that each Latin-American country had a favorite Joe Bataan song.

"I go to Colombia, (their favorite) is 'El Avion' ('The Plane'). In France, it's 'La Botella' ('The Bottle') ... In New York, it's 'Ordinary Guy,'" Bataan explained. "My set list is never set. I look at the audience and see what they came to hear."

One thing people don't know about Joe Bataan is he isn't exactly Latino. His father is Filipino while his mother is African-American. Speaking to The Bogota Post earlier this month, he explained how important it was back then to be defined by race. As he got older, he realized race shouldn't be the main driving force of life.

Bataan visited the Philippines in 2012. He admitted to GMA News that the trip made him emotional, since his father never had the chance to return to his home country.

"It took me 69 years to come back home. It is great to be back where my roots started," he said. "The Lord has allowed me to see this land of my father before my calling is complete."

In his brief stay in the Philippines, Bataan managed to visit Manila, Makati City, Puerto Galera and Batangas.

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