Cuban Music Festivals

(Updated April 2024)
By Chaz Chambers (Musician, Tour Guide Leader, and Director of Havana Music Tours and Musical Getaways)

Cuba and its capital, Havana, have a reputation for being one of the world’s foremost musical hotspots. The city is alive with music, from the narrow alleys and balconies to the blasting speakers in cars, as well as in the hottest venues and dance floors. However, just because music is everywhere doesn’t mean we should miss out on the amazing opportunity to explore the unique music festivals in Havana.

Each music festival in Havana has its own distinct flavor and offers a variety of Cuban music with an international twist. We invite you to check out our list of the top 5 most popular music festivals in Havana, where you’re sure to find something that you’ll love and appreciate.

5. Josone Music Festival in Varadero

The Josone Music Festival is a highly anticipated event that brings together a diverse range of music genres. It is a popular festival known for its specialization in Cuban Jazz, Son, and Rumba. It features a lineup of famous Cuban orchestras like Isaac Delgado, Los Van Van, Havana D’ Primera, Alain Pérez, etc., as well as dancers and international DJs. The festival takes place in the picturesque Josone Park in the beach city of Varadero in Matanzas province.

The festival offers an immersive musical experience with two stages that host performances from the afternoon until late at night. The main stage is situated in the center of the park and is the primary location for the festival’s headline acts. The second stage, located near the lake, provides a more intimate setting for performances. Various food and beverage vendors and local artisans displaying their crafts complement the festival’s musical program. Attendees can sample a range of traditional Cuban dishes and beverages while enjoying the music.

Overall, the Josone Music Festival is a must-attend event for anyone interested in experiencing the vibrant Cuban music scene and also enjoying one of the best beaches in the world, Varadero Beach. Its unique blend of genres and lively atmosphere make it a one-of-a-kind festival that should not be missed.

More info about our festival tour here.

4. Fiesta del Tambor – Havana’s Annual Percussion Festival

Let’s dive into the exciting world of percussion! The Fiesta del Tambor is a must-attend event for all percussion enthusiasts, as it offers an exceptional opportunity to participate in the biggest drum party on the island. The festival, which has been in operation for more than 20 years, is organized by the renowned Cuban percussionist Giraldo Piloto, and it attracts some of the best percussionists, drummers, and musicians from both international and local scenes.

But that’s not all! The festival is a feast for the senses, as it is filled with Cuban music bands, various dance groups, folklore jazz compositions, and even drum masterclasses and cultural events. You will have the chance to witness and experience the richness of Cuban culture, music, and art in every aspect.

The festival celebrates drums and everything related to them. From traditional Cuban rhythms to modern beats, it has it all. The greatest percussionists and drummers will be accompanied by the best dance groups and musicians, creating an unforgettable experience for everyone who attends.

So, if you’re a percussion enthusiast or someone who loves music and culture, don’t miss out on this opportunity to attend the Fiesta del Tambor. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in the world of drums and to celebrate the beauty of Cuban heritage, art, and music.

More info about our festival tour here.

3. Havana RPM – The Vinyl Music Festival in Cuba

Next on our list is the young Havana RPM Music Festival, an extraordinary celebration of vinyl music. It’s a cultural landmark event created and organized by Guampara Music, 𝐂𝐮𝐛𝐚’𝐬 𝟏𝐬𝐭 𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐚𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐜𝐮𝐛𝐚𝐧 𝐥𝐚𝐛𝐞𝐥. The Festival brings together enthusiasts, artists, and storytellers from across the globe, all united by their passion for vinyl. This isn’t just any music festival – it’s a heartfelt tribute to the timeless allure of vinyl.

Over the course of two days, the event gathers a community of vinyl collectors, music enthusiasts, and those curious about the world of records. You’ll have the chance to attend thought-provoking discussions on the evolution of discography in Cuba, the unique role of vinyl in DJ culture, and the empowering connection between women and vinyl.

You’ll also get to explore captivating exhibitions featuring sound-inspired posters by artists like Pepe Menéndez, and a marketplace full of vinyl, equipment, accessories, and crafts. This is your chance to find that rare gem of a record or appreciate the intersection of visual art and music.

The Havana RPM is all about enjoying the exciting world of vinyl records, celebrating vinyl music and the tradition of record collecting, and immersing ourselves in the energetic atmosphere of Cuba’s contemporary music scene. You will be able to participate in Sunset and Main Shows at Stage 45RPM and Stage 33RPM, featuring international and national DJs as well as invited bands.

More info about our festival tour here.


2. Havana
Salsa Festival

Dancing has been around for thousands of years and is a form of expression that has captivated people of all ages and cultures. The International Havana Salsa Festival is focused on salsa-dancing lovers. With a wide variety of styles to choose from, including Casino dance (a style of Cuban salsa), ChaChaChá, Rumbatón, Timba, and many more, there is something for everyone.

The International Havana Salsa Festival is not only about dance, but it also combines the most relevant music orchestras from all over Cuba, including famous bands. The festival organizers have announced the line-up for the 2023 edition, which was specifically picked by the audience through an online vote. The line-up includes Alexander Abreu y Havana D´Primera, Pupy y los que Son Son, Adalberto Alvarez y Su Son, Elito Revé y su Charangón, Enrique Alvarez y su Charanga Latina, Lazarito Valdez y Bamboleo, Maikel Blanco y su Salsa Mayor, Manolito Simonet y su Trabuco, Alain Pérez, Isaac Delgado, El Niño y la Verdad, and Los Van Van orchestra.

If you decide to go to the Havana Salsa Fest, Havana Music Tours provides you with VIP passes, allowing you to experience the festival from the very front and more. Every night, you’ll be surrounded by music around the magical city of Havana, including the festival concerts and a premium music schedule outside this event. As a team of musicians and musicologists who have been working within the Cuban music scene for years, we are committed to curating unique experiences within the Cuban musical realm. So, join us to experience the best Cuban music and dance!

More info about our festival tour here.

1. Havana Jazz Plaza – Havana’s Annual Jazz Festival

The Havana International Music Festival is a highly respected annual event that has been held in Cuba for many years. This festival is considered one of the country’s most important and popular music events, attracting many music enthusiasts and performers from all over the world.

The festival is known for showcasing diverse musical styles, including traditional Cuban music, jazz, classical, and contemporary music. It provides a platform for both established and emerging artists to perform and gain exposure to a wider audience.

Over the years, the festival has featured performances from many renowned artists such as Omara Portuondo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Chucho Valdés, Telmary, Joe Lovano, Snarky Puppy, Aaron Goldberg, Dayramir Gonzalez, Emmet Cohen, Brenda Navarrete, Alain Pérez, Interactivo, Alejandro Delgado, Oliver Valdés, Los Van Van, Hector Quintana, Muñequitos de Matanzas, Pedrito Martinez, Cimafunk, Ruy López-Nussa, Dave Weckl, Horacio Hernández (El Negro), Habana de Primera, Rumbatá, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and much more!. It has also provided a platform for many up-and-coming artists to showcase their talents and gain recognition.

Attending the Havana Jazz Plaza Festival is a must for any music lover and a great way to experience the rich and diverse musical culture of Cuba.

More info about our festival tour here.

Join us for an unforgettable tour of Cuba. Book your CubaTour Now!

The Global Influence of Cuban Music

Cuban music is a rich tapestry that has not only shaped the island’s cultural identity but has also left a significant mark on the global music scene. Its rhythmic vitality and vibrant melodies reflect the island’s complex history and diverse influences, making Cuban music a key player in shaping the world’s perception of this Caribbean nation.

Delve into the heart of Cuba’s musical heritage as we uncover five intriguing aspects that you probably didn’t know, from the legendary Buena Vista Social Club to the energetic beats of Timba and the enchanting rituals of Afro-Cuban music.

omara-portuondo-cuban-women-in-music-buena-vista-social-club

Omara Portuondo

1. Buena Vista Social Club: Reviving Cuba’s Golden Age

The Buena Vista Social Club, formed in 1996, played a pivotal role in revitalizing traditional Cuban music. This ensemble of veteran musicians showcased styles like son, bolero, and danzón, echoing the musical golden age of the 1930s to 1950s. 

The group’s international success, spurred by their eponymous album and Wim Wenders’ documentary, not only revived interest in Cuban music but also in Latin American music as a whole. Interestingly, this project started almost accidentally when a planned collaboration between Cuban and Malian musicians fell through, leading to the formation of this iconic group​​​​​​.

AfroCUban Culture experience Callejon de Hamel - Havana Music Tours Private Tour - November 2023IMG_2979

2. Afro-Cuban Rituals: A Musical Bridge to Africa

Afro-Cuban music, deeply rooted in the traditions of African ethnic groups brought to Cuba as slaves, is a vital element of Cuban music. This music, intimately connected with traditional African religions like Lucumi and Palo, has preserved African languages and cultural practices. 

The music, primarily passed down orally and often performed in private gatherings, is characterized by polyrhythmic percussion, call-and-response vocals, and dance. This style of music not only reflects Cuba’s African heritage but also showcases the island’s unique cultural fusion​​​.

3 - Alexander Abreu y Havana de Primera - Havana Salsa Festival Photos - Havana Music Tours

3. Timba: The Rhythmic Voice of Contemporary Cuba

Timba, a genre that emerged in the 1990s, is a dynamic evolution of traditional Cuban son, integrating elements from salsa, American Funk/R&B, and Afro-Cuban folkloric music. Known for its aggressive style, emphasis on bass drum, and provocative dance style known as “despelote,” timba reflects the cultural and social upheaval during Cuba’s “Special Period” in the early 1990s. 

Bands like Los Van Van, Irakere, and NG La Banda were instrumental in setting the foundation for this genre, which is characterized by complex percussion, fast horn parts, and unconventional bass patterns​​​​​​​​.

Check out our Havana Salsa Fest tour happening in February 2024 for lots of live Timba music in Cuba

cuban music and musicians

4. Punto Cubano: The Rural Poetry Set to Music

Punto Cubano, or punto guajiro, is a genre that originated in the 17th century, predominantly in rural Cuba. With roots in Andalusian and Canary Islands music, punto integrates African elements and is performed with a variety of guitars and percussion instruments. 

The genre is particularly noted for its improvisational singing style and unvarying melody, offering a glimpse into the rural life and culture of Cuba. Notable artists like Celina González and Albita started their careers with this genre, while Indio Naborí stands out for his contributions to punto through his decima poetry​​​​.

Tropicana Show in Havana, Cuba

5. Tropicana Club: The Epitome of Cuban Nightlife

The Tropicana Club, opened in 1939 in Havana, epitomizes the glamour and extravagance of Cuban nightlife. Originally a combination of a casino and cabaret, Tropicana evolved into a renowned nightclub, famous for its outdoor setting amidst tropical gardens, extravagant shows, and modern architecture. 

The club’s shows, often featuring large chorus lines and vibrant native rhythms and costumes, attracted top international stars and tourists, contributing significantly to Cuba’s cultural and tourist appeal​​​​​​.

For more fascinating insights into the rich tapestry of Cuban music and its global influence discover our various tours,  your portal to exploring the world of music from Cuba and beyond. Discover the rhythms, the history, and the stories that make Cuban music a treasure trove of cultural heritage.

 

Written by Rocío de Lucía, Tour Leader and Musicologist with Havana Music Tours & Musical Getaways

Tour Release

Today, as we honor Cuban Culture Day, we’re thrilled to introduce our Santiago de Cuba Music and Cultural Tour, March 27th-31st, 2024. Santiago de Cuba, often referred to as the cradle of Cuban music, holds a special place in the heart of our nation’s cultural tapestry. Nestled in a remote corner of Cuba, Santiago boasts an authenticity that is both rare and captivating.

With Havana Music Tours, you’ll have the opportunity to explore Santiago de Cuba’s rich musical heritage, guided by our expert musician team. Over five unforgettable days, you’ll connect with the soul of Santiago, experiencing its vibrant rhythms, historic landmarks, and the warmth of its traditions. From the iconic Casa de la Trova and Salón del Son to the Grammy Award-Winning performances of Septeto Santiaguero and the UNESCO-recognized Tumba Francesa La Caridad de Oriente, every moment promises to be a feast for the senses.

Conga de los Hoyos, Santiago de Cuba 2023 – Havana Music Tours

But it’s not just about the music. Santiago’s culinary scene is a delightful journey in itself. Relish meals at renowned spots like Restaurante La Cabaña and Restaurante El Madrileño. As the sun sets, let Santiago’s nightlife enchant you with performances that resonate with the city’s deep-rooted musical legacy.

Beyond the music and food, Santiago’s history is a testament to its significance in Cuban culture. With visits to places like the Conservatorio de Música Esteban Salas and a day trip to Guantánamo guided by historian Jesús Cuenca, you’ll gain insights into the city’s storied past.

Sala Dolores, Santiago de Cuba 2023 – Havana Music Tours

So, as we celebrate Cuban Culture Day, we invite you to join us on this special journey to Santiago de Cuba. Let’s come together to honor the rhythms, flavors, and stories that make Cuban culture so beautifully unique.

Discover more about this exciting tour and book your spot: Santiago de Cuba Music and Cultural Tour 2024

Happy Cuban Culture Day! 🎉🇨🇺

By Laluly Romeri (Cuban musicologist and Business Development Specialist of Havana Music Tours and Musical Getaways

Joy grows among Cuban musicians and music lovers after the beautiful nice they had yesterday during and after the Latin Grammys Awards 2022. Cuba and its musicians were awarded seven times last night from the ten nominations in various categories where Cuban musicians were competing. The event ended and left a pleasant surprise.

The musicians Aymée Nuviola and Gonzalo Rubalcava honored Cuban music after winning the award for Best Tropical Album for their album “Gonzalo Rubalcava y Aymée Nuviola live in Marciac.” At the same time, the Best Latin Jazz Album went to the multi-awarded in previous editions Chucho Valdés for the album “Mirror Mirror” with Eliane Elias and Chick Corea.

The video “This is not America” won the Best Short Form Music Video award. A joy distributed among its director Greg Ohrel, the Franco-Cuban sisters Ibeyi, and the Puerto Rican singer Residente. On the other hand, the Cuban singer Lenier Mesa and the Puerto Rican artist Marc Anthony won the award in the category of Best Tropical Song.

Undoubtedly, one of the greatest joys of the night was the Best Folk Album category award for the album “Ancestros Sinfónicos” of the group Síntesis, a Cuban band currently celebrating its 46 anniversary.

The award for Best Salsa Album went to the Cuban recording and mixing engineer Juan Mario Aracil Mayito, who has been awarded in previous editions of the Latin Grammys. This time it was for the album “Pa’lla Voy” by an artist mentioned earlier, Marc-Anthony. This award emphasizes how much talent exists in Cuba in any musical field.

Finally, the Best New Artist award was a great surprise and pride for many, where 95-year-old Ángela Álvarez demonstrated that dreams can come true regardless of age. Her speech was one of the most emotional of the night because she longed for her homeland, Cuba, which inspired her to create each song.

Cuban music continues to position itself and grow within an industry where it is difficult to compete with music mostly made for the great masses. It demonstrates that the roots of musical traditions break any commercial barrier and that the most important thing is music, a universal language.

Mambo Music is back

By Laluly Romeri (Cuban musicologist and Business Development Specialist of Havana Music Tours and Musical Getaways

¿Tú no querías Mambo? (did you want Mambo?) It’s the question of the moment for the public that follows good Cuban music and, above all, the talent of groups such as Toques del Río. A proposal accompanied by two musical creations from the band’s members, “Mambo No.0” and “Mambo Chípata.” These songs come to fill the existing void regarding the treatment of mambo music, which for many years was in the shadows despite having been one of the most popular and danced traditional Cuban music just a few decades ago.

“Mambo No.0” or “Mambo No.5”?

Yes, the correct title is “Mambo No.0”. This song is a special tribute from the boys of Toques del Río to Dámaso Pérez Prado, who is recognized as the most representative figure of this genre.

“Mambo No.0” is part of the first Toques del Río phonogram, “Pa que te sosiegues”, under the EGREM record label. The song specifically covers the lyrics of the mambo “Ni Habla” by Pérez Prado, in an evident fusion of genres such as pop, rock, and Charleston style of Swing Jazz music.

This back-in-time feeling brought by “Mambo No.0” has gained a lot of acceptance from both the Cuban and international public. The song was awarded in 2015 as the best fusion song at the Cuerda Viva Awards, an event dedicated to highlighting local talent in Cuba’s fusion and alternative music scene.

¿Tú no querías Mambo? Yes, we want more Mambo!

But the story does not end there. Toques del Río accepts its challenge to consume more Mambo with the delivery of a second composition, the “Mambo Chípata,” a creation that is also a challenge for the band due to the complexity included in the musical arrangement.

“Mambo Chípata” has been used on Cuban television as the theme for the program “Al Fin Sábado” presentation that premiered in the summer of 2018. This is just one example of the media impact of the band because many of their songs have been used on several occasions as incidental music for various television programs such as “Ruta 10” and “No te lo pierdas.” Added to this are the dance companies that have choreographed these songs for different kinds of shows.

Toques del Río has opened a new stage in the Mambo. Many of the singers and groups in Cuba have accepted this invitation to cultivate the Mambo again, demonstrating that the new generations are interested in enjoying, dancing, and listening to these rhythms.

 

If you like this traditional Cuban music we recommend you to check out our Spotify Playlist Cuban Traditional Songs. There you will find one of the “Chan Chan” versions and many other beautiful Cuban songs that you will certainly enjoy.  

By Rocío de Lucía (Cuban Musicologist)

One of the most iconic Cuban songs is undoubtedly “Chan Chan.” Many people can immediately identify that simple but delicious composition just by entering the four chords on which the song is based, authored by another of the great symbols of Cuban culture: Máximo Francisco Repilado, better known as Compay Segundo. Star of the Buena Vista Social Club, Compay achieved world fame with this traditional Cuban Music project. However, he was more than 70 years old and a respectable figure, an authority in Cuban Trova and Son music.

Compay Segundo never had academic musical training, but he brought an innate gift with which he would captivate everyone. One morning he woke up with the harmony in his head, to which he put the lyrics of one of his childhood anecdotes. He said he dreamed of the melody of “Chan Chan,” like many of his compositions. 

The song tells the story of Juanita and Chan Chan, two young lovers who wanted to get married. As they lived in poverty, they went “to the sea to sift sand” to find gold and thus be able to become independent. When the young Juanita entered the sea, her dresses got wet and clung to her body, so when she wiggled while she “shook the jibe,” the sensual movement of her figure caused “pain to Cha Chan.”

The author recreates this story that hides a subtle double meaning and turns it into an adventurous artwork, with some very well-suggested touches of eroticism, but never explicit or vulgar. The verses accompany a singular tumbao, not the typical Cuban son. It is a Phrygian turn in rhythm with such a peculiar cadence, resulting in an extremely simple and irresistible song. 

In other verses, he sings: “the love I have for you, I can’t hide it from you, the drool comes off, I can’t avoid it anymore.”

compay-segundo-chan-chan-cover

The journey of the song

Being a troubadour from the tip of his hair to the end of his feet, Compay Segundo begins his song by recounting one of the popular tours he used to do in his wanderings as a musician. The first verses of the single describe a route that includes several towns in the Holguín province, located east of the island of Cuba: “from Alto Cedro, I go to Marcané, I get to Cueto, I go to Mayarí.” Finally, the last verses are related to this introduction: “clear the straw path, that I want to sit on that log that I see, that I cannot get there.” Knowing the good humor of Cuban musicians and their propensity for double meanings, a second meaning related to the history of Juanita and Chan Chan can also be added to these final verses.

“Chan Chan” became known during the jam sessions of the Cuarteto Patria, directed by the great musician Eliades Ochoa, around 1987. Eliades says that the same year he had met Compay, and Compay had given him a cassette with his compositions, asking him to formally record them with his quartet so that he could earn some money from copyright. In that cassette came a son that Eliades drew attention to since the tumbao was quite unusual. That son was Chan Chan, to which Eliades Ochoa would later add his mastery to finish the bill for the song. 

The song was performed for the first time at the Casa de la Trova Santiaguera by Compay himself and the Patria quartet. The single immediately hit the public with its contagious cadence and natural grace. The composition was recorded on the Buena Vista Social Club album in March 1996, and its international premiere was on September 16, 1997.

Pope Juan Pablo Segundo invited the Compay Segundo group to give an exclusive concert in a small room below the papal office. There they performed “Chan Chan,” among other great classics of Traditional Cuban music. Even in the Vatican, they enjoyed this legendary song. This exquisite composition shows that simplicity is an exact path when you want to communicate something honest and meaningful. 

Experts could analyze the success formula of “Chan Chan”  endlessly. Yet, without a doubt, its pertinent arrangement has been an emphasized factor in helping the spontaneous flavor of its rhythm and harmony to shine and make even the most skeptical dance.

If you like this traditional Cuban music we recommend you to check out our Spotify Playlist Cuban Traditional Songs. There you will find one of the “Chan Chan” versions and many other beautiful Cuban songs that you will certainly enjoy.  

ByYami Cabrera (Cuban musicologist and Business Development Director of Havana Music Tours and Musical Getaways

Modernity in Cuban music continues to showcase excellent female artists, who make the culture grow on the island more and more. In the last 20 years, women musicians have stepped forward to create songs in various genres. Therefore, we could not end Women’s History Month without honoring the new generations of Cuban Women in Music. That’s why we are launching this second part of our blog CUBAN WOMEN IN MUSIC: SPOTIFY PLAYLIST TRIBUTE TO WOMEN ARTISTS – PART 1.

In this new edition of our tribute blog post, we will be presenting the songs we recently added to our Spotify Playlist, Cuban Women in Music; Playlist Tribute to Women Artist. These additions mainly display songs popularized or composed by Cuban singers.

This new list of artists included in our Playlist will find an extraordinary variety of impressive Cuban and Cuban-American female musicians who defend their musical roots worldwide. Most of them are considered among the best contemporary female singers and composers in Cuba and Latin America due to the diversity of their voices and musical spectrum.

Cuban Women in Music, 21st Century songs written or popularized by female musicians in the last 20 years

  1. Ángel y Habanera – by Liuba María Hevia
  2. Mala – by Haila María Mompié
  3. La Bella Cubana – by La Camerata Romeo / Zenaida Romeo
  4. Bailando con otro – by Anacaona / Omara Portuondo 
  5. Donde stabas anoche – by Aymee Nuviola / Septeto Santiaguero
  6. Lágrimas de soledad – by Danay Suarez
  7. Guajiro – by Sexto Sentido
  8. Tu nombre – by Diana Fuentes
  9. Equivocao 8.6 – by Telmary y Habana Sana
  10. Tenerme – by Gretell Barreiro
  11. Palabras – by Haydée Milanés
  12. La rumba me llamo yo – by Daymé Arocena
  13. Mulata Linda – by Brenda Navarrete
  14. Tengo que partir – by Luna Manzanares
  15. Voy – by Eme Alfonso
  16. River – by Ibeyi
  17. Universo – by Yissy García y Bandancha

Bonus track: Havana – by Camila Cabello / Young Thug

You can find our Spotify Playlist Tribute to Women Artists here. Enjoy, and let us know your opinion about our selection on the bottom part of this blog post. 

If you want to know more about women in Cuban music, check out our blog, THE 10 MOST INFLUENTIAL FEMALE MUSICIANS IN CUBAN MUSIC FOR 2020.

 

 

ByYami Cabrera (Cuban musicologist and Business Development Director of Havana Music Tours and Musical Getaways

Cuban women are the inspiring soul of the great culture that Cuba preserves. Each sector of Cuban society and each bit of history contains the names of sovereign and courageous women who became examples for the nation and the world. That’s why we want to share this Spotify Playlist Tribute to honor the role of Cuban women in music during this Women’s History Month. 

There is an extended list of female figures who have triumphed in the Cuban and international music scene when it comes to musicians. They have made history through songs.

Many of these courageous women have become an example for younger generations in Cuban society. Among these musical legends it is possible to mention: Maria Teresa Vera, Omara Portuondo, Celia Cruz, Isolina Carrillo, Mercedita Valdés, Elena Burke, Rita Montaner, Celeste Mendoza, Rosita Fornés, and others.

Vanesa-formell-cuban-women-in-music

Vanesa Formell

Nowadays, Cuban culture enjoys an immense arsenal of talented young women who defend their musical roots anywhere. Cuban women musicians have positioned themselves among the best in the industry. Some of them are Daymé Arocena, Eme Alfonso, Yissy García, Brenda Navarrete, Luna Manzanares, Gretell Barreiro, Diana Fuentes, Telmary, Vanesa Formell, Aymée Nuviola, La Reina y la Real, etc.

@havanamusictours

#WomenInMusic #CubanWomen in Music,@DayméArocena at #Havana #JazzPlazaFestival 2019 🇨🇺 #jazz #cubansinger #musicacubana #cubanmusic #womenhistorymonth #trending #sing

♬ original sound – Havana Music Tours

What is in our Spotify Playlist Tribute to Women Artists? 

A long list of women’s names has become part of Cuban cultural and daily life due to their crucial role in music. We know that we can count thousands of songs dedicated to Cuban women, but we can also acknowledge a lot written, performed, and popularized by various women. In this Part 1 of our Spotify Playlist Tribute to Women Artists, we would like to mention essential classic songs written or popularized by women musicians in Cuba.

The following list mentions a few of our favorite classic songs written or popularized by Cuban women.

  • Veinte Años (written by Maria Teresa Vera, in 1935)
  • Damisela Encantadora (popularized by Esther Borja in 1935)
  • Dos Gardenias (written by Isolina Carrillo, in 1945)
  • Quimbara (popularized by Celia Cruz in 1974)
  • El Manisero (popularized by Rita Montaner, in 1927)
  • Yo soy el Punto Cubano (written by Celina González, in 1956)
omara-portuondo-cuban-women-in-music

Omara Portuondo

Cuban women’s beauty and unique identity have also been a source of inspiration for multiple musicians. You can find lots of great songs dedicated to Cuban women. Many of them become representative compositions of Cuban music internationally. We decided to include a few of these songs on our Spotify Playlist Tribute to Women Artists Part 1. 

The following list mentions a few of our favorite classic songs dedicated to Cuban women.

  • Guantanamera (written by Joseíto Fernández, in 1929)
  • Longina (written by Manuel Corona, in 1918)
  • Marilú (title theme of the orchestra Los Van Van, between 1969 and 1970)
  • María Caracoles (written by Pello El Afrocán, in 1964)
  • Yolanda (written by Pablo Milanés, in 1970)
  • El cuatro de Tula (written by Sergio Gonzalez Siaba of the Buena Vista Social Club, in 1996)

You can find our Spotify Playlist Tribute to Women Artists Part 1 here. Enjoy, and let us know your opinion about our selection on the bottom part of this blog post. 

If you want to know more about women in Cuban music, check out our blog, THE 10 MOST INFLUENTIAL FEMALE MUSICIANS IN CUBAN MUSIC FOR 2020.

 

The Buena Vista Social Club Today

 

By Rocío de Lucía (Cuban Musicologist)

When we talk about The History of Buena Vista Social Club Part 1 and The History of Buena Vista Social Club Part 2, we find that Buena Vista Social Club was the name of a Social Club where the best “soneros” of the 50s used to sing in Cuba. Then, it was a song that paid tribute to those sublime encounters and musical sessions of the homonymous Club. Later, the song would give the name to an album, a project, and finally to a musical artistic concept, with a particular style and format, founded on bringing together the glorious musicians and songs of previous decades. All that is Buena Vista Social Club.

The project traveled the world always changing the members of the orchestra. Although, it is true that some figures achieved greater popularity, becoming a kind of Buena Vista icon. Many of these original interpreters passed away a few years ago, others are now of advanced age. Let us remember that, by the creation date of the project in the 90s, the vast majority of artists were over 65 years of age.

What happened in Cuba? 

Currently, in Cuba, the legacy and principles of the Buena Vista Social Club continue to be exalted, in a project called Tradicionales de Los 50. Because the original name is the intellectual property of the record company that recorded the homonymous album, the longest-lived figures of the Cuban son, they meet every night at the Rosalía de Castro Club. Located in the heart of Old Havana, there those songs that for years have brightened the lives of all those who enjoy them are honored.

Former members of the Sonora Matancera -the orchestra with which Celia Cruz recorded her first two musical albums in Cuba and a legend of Latin American dance music of the last century-, along with other great stars of the Buena Vista Social Club and Afro-Cuban All-Stars have been part of this project since 2002.

Among the most prominent figures who have collaborated, we find Julio Alberto Fernández, Barbarito Torres, Amadito Valdés, “El Guajiro” Mirabal, Julienne Oviedo Sánchez, Carlos González Cárdenas, Lázaro Villa, Rosa Fornés, Rolo Martínez and Manolo del Valle. These names are joined by other great personalities of the Cuban music scene: Rolito, Armandito y Navarro, Feliz Baloy, Hector Téllez, Alfonsí Quintana, Caridad Hierrezuelo, Hilda de la Hoz, María Elena Pena, Xiomara Valdés, Teresa García Caturla, Ela Calvo, María Victoria Gil, Amparito Valencia and Luis Téllez.

The current stars, all stand out for an important musical trajectory, of excellence within Cuban music. There we will find Rolando Montero, Mundito González, José Valladares, Jorge Mulet, Migdalia Hechavarría, Jose Luis Arango, Sergio Farías, Raquel Hernández, Flora Max, Pablo Santamaría, Millán Zuaznabar, Leonor Zayas, Feliz Bernal, Yanko Pizako, Emilio Ramos, Adalberto Ávila “Candela”, Martha de Santelices, Andrés Sánchez, Maria Elena Lazo, Alfredo Rodríguez, Laura Rodríguez and María de Jesús López.

The wide versatility of the project and its classic sound make this show a jewel of Cuban cultural heritage. A repertoire that ranges from the great classics of Miguel Matamoros, Miguel Cuní, Benny Moré, Compay Segundo, Celia Cruz, and Sonora Matancera -among others-, continues to transport us to the golden age of Cuban music, with the particular timbres and styles of each interpreter.

All of them preserve that old and delightful essence that allows us to enjoy, even in the XXI century, those glorious moments that made the Havana nights of past decades shine. An enjoyment turned into a privilege to get a live glimpse of the flavor and talent of the musicians who have made the whole world dance and distinguished the name of this beautiful island through passion and art.

You can find Parts 1 and 2 of this blog trilogy in the following links:

THE HISTORY OF BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB PART 1: THE VINDICATION OF CUBAN MUSIC

THE HISTORY OF BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB PART 2

A Reflection about Female Musicians For Women’s History Month

By Rosi del Valle (Cuban musician)

Last year was one of the most difficult for artists, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, music events were not possible. However, the artistic movement in Cuba did not stop. Social media was flooded with concerts from every genre. Female artists made a difference during this time of total isolation. That’s why we prepared this list of the 10 most influential Female Musicians in 2020 as a tribute to them in this Women’s History Month. All of them are great singers and talented musicians.

10. Luna Manzanares

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Luna Manzanares is part of the young generation of Cuban Female singers. Last year she released a new album, “Luna Nueva,” made up of her songs, and ventured into musical theater. She also made her debut as host of the “Adolfo Guzman” Song Festival.

9. Aymeé Nuviola

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Aymée Nuviola is a Cuban/American Female Musician and singer based in the United States. Winner of the 2020 Grammy Award in the Best Tropical Latin Album category for “A Journey Through Cuban Music.”

8. Gretell Barreiro

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Gretell Barreiro is a peculiar Cuban Female singer and pianist. In her most recent musical production, “Marina,” she highlighted femininity through various genres of Cuban music.

7. La Reina y La Real

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La Reina y la Real is a Cuban Female Musicians and Rap duo based in Havana, Cuba. These rappers released their most recent phonogram, “Mirame,” on April 3, 2020, under Bis Music record label. During the confinement, they participated in various international online programs and festivals.

6. Haila Maria Mompié

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Haila María Mompié is a Cuban Female Musician and singer and a trendy icon in the Cuban music scene. Last year Haila premiered her new children’s music album “A song to the smile,” licensed by the EGREM record label. She also frequently offered online concerts.

5. Daymé Arocena

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Daymé Arocena is one of the youngest Cuban Female Musician and singers dedicated to mixing Afro-Cuban music with Jazz, having already achieved a prominent career. She’s also one of the singers who emphasizes women’s right to art, regardless of race.

4. Brenda Navarrete

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Brenda Navarrete is a surprising Cuban Female percussionist and singer with a very active career in Havana, Cuba. She is also a composer and jazz musician invited to Miami’s Global Cuba Fest 21. She stands out for reflecting Afro-Cuban rhythms in her songs.

3. Diana Fuentes

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Diana Fuentes is a very versatile Cuban Female Musician and singer currently based in Miami. She and Divan (Cuban reggaeton artist) starred in the song “Otra Boca,” one of the most popular last year. Diana captured the attention of the Spanish singer Pablo Alboran, with whom she co-authored two songs.

2. Telmary

telmary-influential-Cuban-female-artist

Telmary is one of the most potent Cuban Female voices of Cuban Rap Music and a former member of Free Hole Negro and Interactivo bands. Together with her group, Habana Sana, she has substantially impacted social networks. Being considered an icon for style, she launched her accessory brand “Tumbao de Telma” last October.

1. Omara Portuondo

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Several magazines selected the Cuban Female singer Omara Portuondo as the most important Cuban woman of 2020. She is also a national glory. Omara received another Grammy nomination for her latest album, “Mariposas,” with the collaboration of several artists. She was one of the first to join the online concert strategy.

 

We hope you will follow along with us and learn more about Cuban culture and music. You can even take a tour with us!