Rubén Blades Bellido de Luna (born July 16, 1948), known professionally as Rubén Blades, is a Panamanian musician, singer, composer, actor, activist, and politician, performing musically most often in the salsa, and Latin jazz genres. As a songwriter, Blades brought the lyrical sophistication of Central American nueva canción and Cuban nueva trova as well as experimental tempos and politically inspired Son Cubano salsa to his music, creating "thinking persons' (salsa) dance music". Blades has written dozens of hit songs, including "Pedro Navaja" and "El Cantante" (which became Héctor Lavoe's signature song). He has won eleven Grammy Awards out of seventeen nominations and eleven Latin Grammy Awards.
His acting career began in 1983, and has continued, sometimes with several-year breaks to focus on other projects. He has prominent roles in films such as Crossover Dreams (1985), The Milagro Beanfield War (1988), The Super (1991), Predator 2 (1990), Color of Night (1994), Safe House (2012), The Counselor (2013) and Hands of Stone (2016), along with three Emmy Award nominations for his performances in The Josephine Baker Story (1991), Crazy from the Heart (1992) and The Maldonado Miracle (2003). He portrayed Daniel Salazar, a main character on the TV series Fear the Walking Dead (2015–2017; 2019–present).
He is an icon in Panama and is much admired throughout Latin America and Spain, and managed to attract 17% of the vote in his failed attempt to win the Panamanian presidency in 1994. In September 2004, he was appointed minister of tourism by Panamanian president Martín Torrijos for a five-year term. He holds a Law degree from the University of Panama and an LL.M in International Law from Harvard University. He is married to singer Luba Mason.
He made his debut U.S. with the Pete Rodriguez orchestra in 1970 on his album De Panamá a New York and among his most successful albums are Rubén Blades y Son del Solar... Live!, Amor y Control, Caminando, SALSWING!, Son de Panamá, Tangos , Canciones del Solar de los Aburridos, Buscando América, El Que la Hace la Paga, Escenas, Salsa Big Band, Metiendo Mano! and his famous album Siembra released in 1978. In addition, he has collaborated with different artists such as Usher, Elvis Costello, as a soloist and as a guest Michael Jackson, Luis Miguel, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, Juan Gabriel, Laura Pausini, Shakira, Thalía in the Spanish version of the song "What More Can I Give" written and translated by Blades as "Todo Para Ti". He has also participated in several productions by different Latino artists such as "Almost Like Praying", "Color Esperanza 2020", "Hoy Es Domingo" among other tracks. He also translated into Spanish the track "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" in the version called "Todo Mi Amor eres Tu" included in Jackson's anniversary album Bad 25.