Cuban singer-songwriter Pablo Milanes lifeless at 79

HAVANA (AP) — Pablo Milanés, the Latin Grammy-winning balladeer who helped discovered Cuba’s “nueva trova” motion and toured the world as a cultural ambassador for Fidel Castro’s revolution, has died in Spain, the place he had been Beneath remedy for blood most cancers. He was 79 years outdated.

Probably the most internationally famend Cuban singer-songwriters, he recorded dozens of albums and hits equivalent to “Yolanda”, “Yo Me Quedo” and “Amo Esta Isla” throughout a profession that lasted greater than 5 many years.

“Tradition in Cuba is in mourning for the demise of Pablo Milanés,” Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz tweeted Monday evening.

Milanés’s representatives issued an announcement saying that he had died early Tuesday morning in Madrid.

In early November, he introduced that he was hospitalized and canceled concert events.

Pablo Milanés was a Latin Grammy-winning balladeer who helped discovered the “nueva trova” motion in Cuba.
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Pablo Milanés was born on February 24, 1943 within the jap metropolis of Bayamo, in what was then Oriente province, the youngest of 5 youngsters born to working-class dad and mom. His musical profession started by singing on native tv and radio contests and infrequently profitable.

His household moved to the capital and he studied for a time on the Havana Musical Conservatory through the Nineteen Fifties, however he credited neighborhood musicians quite than formal coaching for his first inspiration, together with developments in the USA and different international locations.

At first of the 60s he was in numerous teams, together with the Cuarteto del Rey, composing his first music in 1963: “Tu Mi Desengano”, which spoke of overcoming a misplaced love.

“Your kisses don’t matter to me as a result of I’ve a brand new love / to whom I promise I’ll give life”, says the melody.

In 1970 he wrote the seminal Latin American love music “Yolanda,” which stays a favourite in all places from the vacationer cafes of Outdated Havana to the cantinas of Mexico Metropolis.

The Spanish newspaper El País requested Milanés in 2003 what number of ladies he had flirted with saying they impressed the music. “None,” she replied with amusing. “However many have informed me: ‘My son is a product of ‘Yolanda’.”

Joaquin Sabina accepts the gold document award from singer Pablo Milanes (R) on Could 21, 2002 in Madrid, Spain. (Photograph Europa Press by way of Getty Pictures)
Europa Press by way of Getty Pictures

Milanés supported the Cuban Revolution of 1959 however was nonetheless focused by the authorities through the first years of Fidel Castro’s authorities, when all types of “various” expression was extremely suspect. Milanés was reportedly harassed for carrying his hair in an afro and given a obligatory job due to his curiosity in international music.

Nonetheless, these experiences didn’t dampen his revolutionary fervor and he started to include politics into his songwriting, collaborating with musicians equivalent to Silvio Rodríguez and Noel Nicola.

The three are thought-about the founders of Cuba’s “nueva trova,” a usually guitar-based musical type that dates again to ballads composed by troubadours through the island’s wars of independence. Infused with the spirit of Nineteen Sixties American protest songs, nueva trova makes use of musical storytelling to focus on social points.

Milanés and Rodríguez particularly grew to become shut, touring the world’s phases as cultural ambassadors for the Cuban Revolution and bonding over consuming classes.

“If Silvio Rodríguez and I bought collectively, the rum was all the time there,” Milanés informed El País in 2003. “There have been all the time three of us, not two.”

Milanés was a pal of Castro, a critic of US international coverage and for a time even a member of parliament for the communist authorities. He thought-about himself loyal to the revolution and spoke of his pleasure in serving Cuba.

“I’m a employee who works with songs, doing what I do know finest in my very own approach, like another Cuban employee,” Milanés as soon as mentioned, in line with The New York Occasions. “I’m devoted to my actuality, to my revolution and to the way in which through which I’ve been educated.”

Pablo Milanés supported the Cuban Revolution of 1959, but was attacked by the authorities during the first years of Fidel Castro's government.
Pablo Milanés supported the Cuban Revolution of 1959, however was attacked by the authorities through the first years of Fidel Castro’s authorities.
AFP by way of Getty Pictures

In 1973, Milanés recorded “Versos Sencillos”, which he turned poems by the Cuban hero José Martí into songs. One other composition grew to become a form of rallying cry for the political left of the Americas: “Canción por la unidad latinoamericana”, which extolled Castro as inheritor to Martí and the South American liberation hero Simón Bolívar, and introduced the Cuban Revolution as mannequin for different nations

In 2006, when Castro resigned from the presidency as a result of a life-threatening sickness, Milanés joined different distinguished artists and intellectuals in expressing his assist for the federal government. He promised to characterize Castro and Cuba “as this second deserves: with unity and braveness within the face of any menace or provocation.”

Nonetheless, he was not afraid to talk his thoughts and infrequently publicly advocated for extra freedom on the island.

In 2010, he supported a dissident on a starvation strike who demanded the discharge of political prisoners. Growing older Cuban leaders “are caught in time,” Milanés informed the Spanish newspaper El Mundo. “Historical past should advance with new concepts and new males.”

The next 12 months, because the island was enacting financial adjustments that may enable for extra free market exercise, he pushed for President Raúl Castro to do extra. “These freedoms have been seen in small doses and we hope that over time they’ll develop,” Milanés informed The Related Press.

Milanés disagreed with out disagreeing, goaded with out pushing, following Fidel Castro’s infamous 1961 warning to the Cuban mental class: “Throughout the Revolution, every thing; Exterior of the Revolution, nothing.”

“I disagree with many issues in Cuba, and everybody is aware of it,” Milanés as soon as mentioned.

At all times political, whilst his bushy afro had given approach to streaks of grey and more and more trimmed extra conservatively, in 2006 he contributed the music “Exodo” (Exodus), about lacking mates who’ve gone to different lands, to the album “We’re People”. (We Are People), a compilation of songs by American and Latin American artists about immigration.

Rodríguez and Milanés had a falling out within the Eighties for causes that had been unclear and barely mentioned, although they maintained mutual respect and Rodríguez collaborated musically with Milanés’ daughter.

Milanés sang on the 1980 album “I like this island” that “I’m from the Caribbean and I might by no means stroll on dry land”; nevertheless, he divided most of his time between Spain and Mexico in later years.

By his personal depend, he underwent greater than 20 surgical procedures on his legs.

Milanés gained two Latin Grammy Awards in 2006: finest singer-songwriter album for “Como un campo de maíz” (Like a Cornfield) and finest conventional tropical album for “AM/PM, Lineas Paralelas” (AM/PM, Parallel strains), a collaboration with Puerto Rican salsa singer Andy Montanez.

He additionally gained quite a few Cuban honors, together with the 1982 Alejo Carpentier Medal and the 2005 Nationwide Music Award, and the 2007 Haydee Santamaría Medal from Casa de las Américas for his contributions to Latin American tradition.

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