Puerto Rican composer Rafael Hernández organized this group in New York City in 1925. It was the first trio of its type in the history of Latin American music. The original members were Manuel “Canario” Jiménez, Salvador Ithier and Rafael Hernández.
Canario sang lead voice; Ithier supplied the second voice and played second guitar, and Rafael played lead guitar and very rarely, added a third voice. Canario had a brief stay with the trio and was replaced by Antonio Mesa, a tenor from the Dominican Republic. Before leaving the group in 1925, Canario recorded the following songs with the Trío Borinquen for Columbia Records: El Son de Monchín, Pobre Borinquen, Dulces Besos, Elisa, Muñoz, Laura Mía, Alma Boricua and Monchín del Alma.
In 1927, with Antonio Mesa as lead singer, the trio recorded many songs for Columbia Records. Among the most popular are La Muñeca, Ansias Locas, Me la Pagarás, Cachito de Cielo, Linda Quisqueya and Menéalo Que Se Empelota. Trío Borinquen visited Puerto Rico in 1928 and made several personal appearances of a memorable nature. Rafael Hernandez’s group then moved on to the Dominican Republic, where in order to attract the public’s good will, it became known as Trio Quisqueya and made several recordings under that name.
Between 1925 and 1931, Trío Borinquen recorded 121 songs; Rafael Hernández wrote 54 of them. The 1920s were a period of patriotic and nostalgic sentiment for Puerto Ricans living in New York. It was during that time that Hernández wrote some of his best patriotic songs. In 1928, Trío Borinquen recorded two of them: ¡Oh, Patria Mía! (Oh My Motherland!) and Mi Patria Tiembla (My Motherland Trembles).
The group remained active until 1931, when it made its last recording. That last session was comprised of nine songs, including Alegría, El Peligro de Amar, Me Quiero Casar and one very appropriately titled Último Adiós. Trio Borinquen shall always be remembered as the prototype of the Latin American trio.