2023 El "Día De San Juan" Salsa Festival Dedication
Pedro Rafael Martinez was born in Maunabo, Puerto Rico. As a young child growing up in Puerto Rico, Pete loved the ocean, crabbing, and fishing. His love of music started at an early age and came naturally. His father was an accordion player.
As a teenager, he came to the Mainland of the United States and resided in the Bronx. He quickly became part of the notorious Mau Maus gang of New York. One night the gang was invited to the church for an evening of worship. The holy spirit came into his life that night and he gave his life to the Lord. He was sponsored by Katherine Kuhlman, known for her healing powers and evangelism, to attend the Latin American Bible College in La Puente, California. After graduating he became an evangelist minister for the Lord.
Even though his English was very limited, he preached with an interpreter for crowds as large as 3,000 people in England and in small and large churches across the United States. His ministry reached the prison population in Mexico and the United States. He became an evangelist minister with Teen Challenge of Victory Outreach. During his ministry with Victory Outreach, he brought many lost souls to the Lord. He sang for the Lord in churches such as The Redeemer and Templo De La Cruz. He sang for people such as Andre Crouch, Billy Graham, and many others. He was a member of Second Baptist Church of Modesto for over 25 years and was immersed in the Christian experience that was his life-time support.
Pete was a man that enjoyed being busy. He held jobs such as a welder, delivery, taxicab driver, catering truck, short order chef, and limousine driver. He was also self-employed, and his last place of employment was a fisherman for a crab fishing boat in the Bering Sea in Alaska. On the boat he was a supervisor and interpreter for those that could not speak English well. He would dive in the ocean to cut the rope whenever it got tangled in the anchor.
He was part of the founders of the Spanish Action Committee that was on TV to advocate for the Hispanic community in Hayward. He spoke for people that needed help in all walks of life. He even saved 2 little girls from a fire in their home.
“Black Pete” was the lead singer for Combo Puerto Rico. For more than 60 years, Pete’s love of Latin Music was shared with family and friends and touched many lives. His style of music was called Jibaro (music of Indio-afro-euro accents). He loved his fellow musicians of Combo Puerto Rico that played for Día de Reyes, Día de San Juan, birthday parties, anniversaries, quinceañeras, parrandas, and special events such as CVCR’s Annual Crab Feeds. Pete and Combo Puerto Rico played on a float for the Western Puerto Rican Council Parade in San Francisco. They also played at several Día De San Juan events throughout California. Pete was also known as Senior Parranda during Christmas, and everyone looked forward to hearing his voice at the Día De Reyes events. He loved his family and friends unconditionally.
Black Pete was well-known and respected by musicians in the music industry. Pete’s early life in the Mau Maus gang of New York is mentioned in the books and movies of “The Cross and the Switchblade”, “Run Baby Run”, and “Where were you when I needed you?”
"If you can do something today, do it, because you may not pass this way again. " Author unknown, recited by Pete many times.