Archive for the Buena Vista Social Club Category

OMARA PORTUONDO: talking to a walking story… (photos by Rich Spirit, words by Renzo Revelli)

Posted in Buena Vista Social Club, Cuba Music, L.A Events, Listen Recovery, Omara Portuondo, photography, Revolutionary/Revolucionario, UCLA LIVE show on October 30, 2009 by Listen Recovery

Omara Portuondo, is an amazing person, besides from being an amazing songstress.  Rich Spirit had the pleasure to work with the Popper Room at the Ethnomusicology Dept at UCLA.  Early this year, Rich Spirit coordinated/produced a lecture / music showcase with Peru’s Afro Peruvian Icon Eva Ayllon.

After the great success of the event, Rich reached out once again to UCLA LIVE into producing a lecture / music showcase with Omara Portuondo.  This phone call took place 7 days prior to the show.  The Ucla Live accepted Rich’s proposition in to producing the lecture / music demonstration.  All we need it was the agreement from Omara’s people.  We had to reach out to Omara’s eldest son, who happen to be also her manager.

The answer from the band took longer than we wanted.  But they accepted.  With out any compensation from the School, being that it was going to be a free event for Omara’s fans as well as the students.  Even thou this event was a short notice, the room “WAC MUSEUM” Gladys Kaufman Theater.  The room had approx 250 seats.  To our luck and good faith, the theater was entirely full. It was time for the lecture.  The Lecture was given by Prof. Paul De Castro, giving a very detail history about the “Feeling Movement”.

The Prof. took about 25 min. Then Omara came out from the side of the stage along with her two percussionist and guitarist.  It was a trio.  Due to “legal rights and copyrights” we could not take photos during the performance.  So we kept our integrity and did not. lol.  We met Omara back stage and had a nice conversation about her travels to Latin America…

“She IS an amazing voice and a down to earth lady” Renzo Revelli (Listen Recovery)

Ucla Live ad for students

settin' up

playin' some Cuban Tracks, no turntables where allowed at the theater.

Gladys Kaufman Theater


after the show we found out it was okay for photos to be taken not video. UGG!



talking about Chabuca Granda's Tribute by Eva Ayllon that happen the week before

Omara Portuondo

cantandome, OMARA!


Omara's guitarist from Sao Paulo and UCLA LIVE assistant

gracias Omara


OMARA PORTUONDO (CUBA): bio & photography. (wikipedia + Listen Recovery research)

Posted in Afro Sounds, Buena Vista Social Club, Cuba, Latin Sounds, Listen Recovery, Omara Portuondo, photography, video archives on October 21, 2009 by Listen Recovery

omara portuondo cover

Early life and career

Omara Portuondo was born one of three sisters; her mother came from a wealthy Spanish family, and had created a scandal by running off with and marrying a black professional baseball player. Omara joined the dance group of the Cabaret Tropicana in 1950, following her elder sister, Haydee. She also danced in the Mulatas de Fuego in the theatre Radiocentro, and in other dance groups. The two sisters also used to sing for family and friends, and in 1947 joined the Loquibambia Swing, a group formed by the blind pianist Frank Emilio Flynn.

From 1952–1953 she sang for the Orquesta Anacaona, and later in 1953 both sisters joined (together with Elena Burke and Moraima Secada) the singing group Cuarteto d’Aida, formed and directed by pianist Aida Diestro.  The group had considerable success, touring the United States, performing with Nat King Cole at the Tropicana, and recording an album for RCA Victor. In 1957 the sisters recorded an album with the quartet.  In 1959 Portuondo recorded a solo album, Magia Negra, involving both jazz and Cuban music. Haydee left the Cuarteto d’Aida in 1961 in order to live in the U.S.A. and Omara continued singing with the quartet until 1967.

In 1967 Portuondo embarked on a solo career, and in the same year represented Cuba at the Sopot Festival in Poland, singing Juanito Marquez’ “Como un Milagro”. Alongside her solo work, in the 1970s she sang with the charanga Orquesta Aragon, and toured with them abroad.

In 1974 she recorded, with guitarist Martin Rojas, an album in which she lauds Salvador Allende and the people of Chile a year after the military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. Among other hits from the album, she sang Carlos Puebla’s beautiful “Hasta Siempre Comandante”, which refers to Ché Guevara.

During the 1970s and 1980s Portuondo enjoyed success at home and abroad, with tours, albums (including one of her most lauded recordings in 1984 with Adalberto Alvarez), film roles, and her own television series.

Buena Vista Social Club and since
Portuondo sang (duetting with Ibrahim Ferrer) on the album Buena Vista Social Club in 1996. This led not only to more touring (including playing at Carnegie Hall with the Buena Vista troupe) and her appearance in Wim Wenders’ film The Buena Vista Social Club, but to two further albums for the World Circuit label: Buena Vista Social Club Presents Omara Portuondo (2000) and Flor de Amor (2004). In July 2005 she presented a symphonic concert of her most important repertoire at the Berlin Festival Classic Open Air am Gendarmenmarkt for an audience of 7,000. The entire program was specially orchestrated by Roberto Sánchez Ferrer, a conductor/pianist with whom she had worked during her early years at Havana’s Tropicana Club. Scott Lawton conducted the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg.

In 2007 she is performing the title role to sold out audiences in Lizt Alfonso’s dance musical “Vida”, the story of modern Cuba through the eyes and with the memories of an old woman. In this same year, her performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival was released on DVD. She recorded in 2008 a duets album with Brazilian singer Maria Bethania, named Maria Bethania e Omara Portuondo. In 2008 she recorded the Album Gracias as a tribute to the 60th anniversary of her singing career.

Omara Portuondo