Raphael Cruz was born in the Dominican Republic, in the town of Villa Vasquez, located in the northeastern province of Monte Cristi, an area rich with rhythms and folklore. His parents were Spaniards who migrated from Cuba, another link in that cultural chain. They settled in Santiago de Los Caballeros. At a very early age, Raphael moved to the capital city of Santo Domingo, where he initiated his grade school education in the “Escuela Chile”. Drawn to music, he enrolled in that school’s marching band, initially playing the snare drum, then the bass drum and finally mastering the xylophone. From there he graduated to the “Colegio Don Bosco”, where he continued his musical studies. He played in that school’s marching band, studying both theory and solfeggio, acquiring the necessary reading skills and technique that were needed in order to become a classical musician. By the time he graduated Don Bosco he had also mastered orchestral percussion. These are percussion instruments used in orchestras which play mainly classical European music and related styles. Generally within such a curriculum, students are required to study all aspects of orchestral playing. Marimba, snare drum and timpani are the three most basic areas of study. Orchestral percussion usually does not include drum set studies. Although Raphael was quite proficient on all of these instruments, his interest in hand drums, and in particular with popular Latin American rhythms was becoming more and more evident. Soon, that inclination began taking him down a different road. “I didn’t exactly know where I was going at this time, but I knew that I wasn’t going to be a classical musician”.