"You kidding me? I'm like a little kid again!"
When asked what he will feel like on September 9th, performing the National Anthem for an NYCFC crowd at Yankee Stadium for the first time on Hispanic Heritage Night, that's what Tito Puente, Jr. had to say.
Back in June, he brought the music of his father Tito Puente, one of the all-time brightest lights of Latin music, to Yankee Stadium. On Hispanic Heritage Night, he'll have the chance to play the National Anthem there for the first time.
"It’s something really special as a kid growing up in New York City," says Puente, Jr.
"I never had the chance to be at Yankee Stadium with my father. My dad did perform there, but he would never take me to a game because he was too busy, so to me, it’s something really special to actually perform there and play his music and bring it right back home to the BX."
This time around, it's a whole new experience. While it's always a thrill for Puente to play at Yankee Stadium, to celebrate his heritage—and that of so many New Yorkers—in his own iconic style and in front of a City Blue crowd is, in his words, "really something special."
"I've got chills," says Puente. "It's really great because now I'm doing this for soccer, another great sport. The league is amazing, the band is excited, I'm totally excited.
"I'm bringing my mom again. this will be my second time bringing her to Yankee Stadium. She's going to love it, so it will be a family affair."
He's hoping one more family member can join, too.
"I told my sister about it, I'm trying to drag her there, as well," he joked. "I've got to put her in a headlock to try and get her here."
Clearly, the experience is a real treat for Puente, who takes so much pride in his city and in those who represent it.
"I love New York," he professes.
"I'm NYC all the way. I love what they do at that stadium, I love the teams that play on that field, it’s an iconic place. I got the opportunity to see the old Yankee Stadium, but the new one is really something special, and I’m glad that soccer is being presented to the highest, to the maximum capacity that they can possibly bring it to."
While Yankee Stadium will be bringing him its energy and it's soccer, Puente will be bringing his music a sea of City Blue, white, and orange.
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He says to bet on it being an amazing experience: "I've got an amazing female singer who's going to be with me, a Grammy-nominated singer by the name of Yaya Vargas. I've got the band with me, and Grammy award-winning members of my orchestra."
Just like NYCFC, what makes Puente such a great fit for Yankee Stadium is his passion—for his City, his borough, and for what it means to represent its residents. He's all in.
"I love being here," he explains. "I was born and raised in the Bronx. It's really something special and I'm so excited to be a part of this whole event."