Early Family Life
His father was the town’s State Attorney and his mother was a pharmacist who worked at home. He was the only boy in his family (he had three sisters). His town did not have any crime and was very peaceful; the worst thing that happened was someone trying to steal medicine from their house. He lived a calm life in this town for fourteen years.
Chirino and the Revolution
After the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, many Cubans fled to the United States. Some thought it was a temporary measure and hoped to return soon afterwards, but when it became apparent that the revolution was going to continue, more Cubans left the island. In 1960 Chirino came to the United States through "Operation Peter Pan", designed to get Cuban children out of the country due to, among other things, fears that the government would take them from their parents. This US government sponsored program, in conjunction with the Catholic Welfare Bureau, eventually transported approximately 14,000 Cuban children to the United States and placed them in foster homes until their parents could leave the island. Much later, Chirino would record "Nuestro Día Ya Viene Llegando" ("Our Day is Coming"), a song loosely based on his experiences as a refugee which has become an anthem for Cuban exiles everywhere.
Chirino began his artistic career in Miami, releasing his first album in 1974. Since then, he has recorded over 20 albums, several of which have attained platinum and gold status. In 2006, his album “Son del Alma”, won a Grammy for Best Salsa/Merengue Album. As founder of the Willy Chirino Foundation, his philanthropic efforts have been recognized by UNICEF and the Department of State. He celebrated his 35th anniversary in music with his latest released album “Willy Chirino Live-35th Anniversary” (“Willy Chirino En Vivo-35 Aniversario”), a CD/DVD combo of the concert. This album brought him his first nomination for Best Salsa Album
at the 2007 Latin Grammy Awards. Most recently, Chirino and his wife, singer/song writer Lissette Alvarez, released their first album together, Amarraditos
(Bound to One Another). The CD includes a potpourri of classic Spanish-language love songs. Chirino's latest album, "Pa'lante", was released at spring 2008, after which he launched a world tour. In 2011, when asked of how his recordings of My Beatles Heart
, he said that Sony scrutinized every single one of his songs and their versions because they consider the songs by The Beatles as one of their most precious treasures, and wanted to make sure they were being used in a rightful manner.
His first marriage was to Olga Maria Rodriguez and had three daughters; Angie, Olga Maria and Jessica. He later married Lissette Álvarez and had three more children- Nicole, Alana, and Gianfranco. He and his wife support the Cuban dissident movement, Yo No Coopero Con La Dictadura (I Don't Cooperate with the Dictatorship).