Lara was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Cuban immigrants, but much of his childhood was spent in Venezuela, moving to Caracas at the age of 7. At 8, he had mastered cuatro - a four-string Venezuelan instrument from which he graduated to the guitar. He moved with his family to Miami when he was in junior
Lara's music is based on Cuban and Venezuelan folklore, with inspiration from Western musicians like Stevie Wonder and Pink Floyd. He formed a group called K.R.U. while at the University of Miami, with whom he released two albums before they disbanded, after which he became a teacher at New World School of the Arts.
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