Merengue artist's hit song takes on a tragic meaning after after manager dies in plane crash

Long before the Nov. 12 crash of an American Airlines jet in New York City, Flight 587 had been immortalized in song. In 1997’s Spanish-language hit ”El Avión,” merengue artists Kinito Mendez and Johnny Ventura sang of expats from the Dominican Republic heading home for Christmas on the earliest flight from NYC’s JFK airport. (Sample lyric: ”Flight 587…comes full of hope and joy.”) Alas, Mendez’s first manager, José ”Papi” LaFontaine Meliton, was among the 260 on board who died. ”I can’t stop performing the song now,” says Mendez. (Spanish radio stations like NYC’s Mega 97.9 FM have just resumed playing it daily.) ”I now think of the song as a remembrance and a tribute to all the Dominican people that disappeared on that plane.”