Fania Records was a New York based record label founded by Dominican-born composer and bandleader Johnny Pacheco and Italian-American lawyer Jerry Masucci in 1964.
The label took its name from an old Cuban song by the singer Reinaldo Bolaño. Fania is known for its promotion of what has become known as Salsa music. The label started out as a small venture, but gained popularity after the success of its first official record, Pacheco's "Cañonazo", leading to the expansion of its talent base.
Among Fania's signature stars are: Willie Colon, Celia Cruz, Larry Harlow, Ray Barretto, Ralfi Pagan, Luis "Perico" Ortiz, Bobby Valentín, Rubén Blades, Héctor Lavoe, Cheo Feliciano, Adalberto Santiago, Ismael Miranda and many others. The second album released under the Fania imprint was Larry Harlow's 1965 Heavy Smoking. The record's modern take on traditional Afro-Caribbean music served as the template for what soon would come to be known as the Fania Sound.
In 1968, Pacheco created a supergroup known as the Fania All-Stars that brought together the elite of Salsa musicians and singers for joint performances and recording. The Fania All-Stars were Fania's best selling band, outlasting the label itself. They made their debut at the Red Garter club located in New York's Greenwich Village, but it was their 1971 performance at the Cheetah, a club in Midtown Manhattan, which became legendary.
Larry Harlow was chosen by Jerry Masucci to produce the band's records while Pacheco acted as director on stage. The Fania All-Stars were filmed for the documentary Our Latin Thing released a year later. Leon Gast, the Academy Award winning director of When We Were Kings filmed the Fania All-Stars for the documentary Our Latin Thing released in 1972.
The first vocalist that recorded as a soloist was Cuban sonero Monguito. As of 2007 all that is left is "Larry Harlow and the Latin Legends of Fania". In 2003, the 1975 Fania release Live at Yankee Stadium was included in the second set of 50 recordings preserved in the United States National Recording Registry. Masucci would eventually become sole owner of Fania Records and the numerous other labels and umbrella labels in South America that he acquired and created.
In September 2005, Fania's assets were sold to Miami-based label Emusica, and by early 2006, the new owners began to reissue material from Fania's backlog catalog (some of which has never appeared on CD before) with enhanced sound and liner notes.
Titles in the Codigo/Fania publishing catalog includes classics penned by the prolific tropical songwriter Tite Curet Alonso such as “Anacaona”, “Periodico de Ayer”, “La Tirana” and “Las Caras Lindas” along with Hector Lavoe’s “Aguanile”, Celia Cruz’s “Quimbara”, and more recent hits such as Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man” and Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie”--both of which sampled songs controlled by Codigo/Fania.