Ben E. King - Spanish Harlem - 1960

Introduction to "Spanish Harlem" by Ben E. King

"Spanish Harlem" is a classic song originally released by Ben E. King in 1960. This song is not only a significant piece of music history but also a wonderful example of the cultural and musical fusion that characterized the 1960s. In this MOOC, we'll explore the song's origins, its impact, and the story behind its creation.

The Creation of "Spanish Harlem"

"Spanish Harlem" was written by Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector, and performed by Ben E. King. The song combines Latin rhythms with soulful singing, exemplifying the cross-cultural musical influences of the time. It's important to understand the social and musical context in which this song was created.

  1. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller: Their contribution to the music of the 60s.
  2. Phil Spector: Learn about the famous producer and his "Wall of Sound."
  3. 1960s Music: Explore the diverse musical landscape of the 1960s.

Quiz: Questions on the song

What year was "Spanish Harlem" released? (1960) (!1958) (!1965) (!1970)

Which famous producer co-wrote "Spanish Harlem"? (Phil Spector) (!George Martin) (!Quincy Jones) (!Brian Wilson)

What unique style is "Spanish Harlem" known for combining? (Soul and Latin rhythms) (!Rock and Jazz) (!Blues and Country) (!Pop and Classical)

Where did Ben E. King begin his musical career? (In a gospel choir) (!As a solo artist in clubs) (!In a high school band) (!On a TV talent show)

"Spanish Harlem" was Ben E. King's first hit as a solo artist. What group was he previously a part of? (The Drifters) (!The Platters) (!The Coasters) (!The Temptations)

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

Before his solo career, Ben E. King was a member of which influential group? (The Drifters) (!The Miracles) (!The Supremes) (!The Four Tops)

Ben E. King's most famous song, often overshadowing "Spanish Harlem," is: ("Stand By Me") (!"Under the Boardwalk") (!"Save the Last Dance for Me") (!"This Magic Moment")

Which of the following is a characteristic of Ben E. King's vocal style? (Soulful and expressive) (!Fast-paced and rhythmic) (!Operatic and classical) (!Soft and whispery)

Ben E. King was part of the wave of artists that popularized what genre in the early 60s? (Soul and R&B) (!Rock 'n' Roll) (!Folk) (!Jazz)

In addition to singing, Ben E. King was also known for his: (Songwriting skills) (!Dance performances) (!Acting in films) (!Painting)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

The lyrics of "Spanish Harlem" describe: (A rose growing in a city) (!A dance party in the summer) (!A love story on the beach) (!A journey through different cities)

The line "It is soft and sweet and dreaming" refers to: (The rose in Spanish Harlem) (!The voice of a loved one) (!The sound of the city) (!The feeling of love)

In "Spanish Harlem," the rose is a metaphor for: (Beauty in an unexpected place) (!A lost love) (!The vibrancy of the city) (!Youth and innocence)

The song describes the rose as: (Growing in the street) (!Hanging from a window) (!Sitting in a garden) (!Floating in the river)

The color of the rose mentioned in the song is: (Red) (!White) (!Yellow) (!Pink)


Ben E. King "Spanish Harlem"
Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector Songwriters
1960 Year of Release
Soul and Latin rhythms Musical Style
The Drifters Ben E. King's Former Group

Open Tasks


  1. Research the 1960s music scene: Look into how music evolved during the 1960s and its cultural impact.
  2. Explore other works of Ben E. King: Listen to Ben E. King's other songs and note the differences and similarities in style.
  3. Draw a "Spanish Harlem" inspired artwork: Create an artwork inspired by the lyrics of the song.


  1. Write a short essay on the cultural significance of "Spanish Harlem"
  2. Compare and contrast "Spanish Harlem" with another song of the era
  3. Create a playlist of songs that blend different musical styles like "Spanish Harlem"


  1. Analyze the musical structure of "Spanish Harlem"
  2. Research and present on the influence of Latin rhythms in 60s pop music
  3. Compose a song that combines elements of soul and Latin music

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Oral Exam

  1. Discuss the importance of cultural fusion in music using "Spanish Harlem" as an example
  2. Analyze the impact of Ben E. King's vocal style on modern singers
  3. Explore how "Spanish Harlem" reflects the social and cultural environment of the 1960s
  4. Compare and contrast "Spanish Harlem" with modern songs that use similar themes
  5. Debate the role of iconic songs in shaping the music industry

OERs on the Topic


"Spanish Harlem" by Ben E. King

  1. Overview
  2. Ben E. King
  3. 1960s Music
  4. Soul Music
  5. Latin Music

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