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 below remedy for blood most cancers. He was 79.
Probably the most internationally well-known Cuban singer-songwriters, he recorded dozens of albums and hits like “Yolanda,” “Yo Me Quedo” (I’m Staying) and “Amo Esta Isla” (I Love This Island) throughout a profession that lasted greater than 5 many years.
“The tradition in Cuba is in mourning for the demise of Pablo Milanes,” Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz tweeted Monday night time.
Milanés’ representatives issued an announcement saying he had died early Tuesday in Madrid.
In early November, he introduced he was being hospitalized and canceled concert events.
Pablo Milanés was born Feb. 24, 1943, within the jap metropolis of Bayamo, in what was then Oriente province, the youngest of 5 siblings born to working-class mother and father. His musical profession started with him singing in, and sometimes profitable, native TV and radio contests.
His household moved to the capital and he studied for a time on the Havana Musical Conservatory in the course of the Fifties, however he credited neighborhood musicians fairly than formal coaching for his early inspiration, together with developments from the US and different nations.
Within the early ’60s he was in a number of teams together with Cuarteto del Rey (the King’s Quartet), composing his first tune in 1963: “Tu Mi Desengano,” (You, My Disillusion), which spoke of shifting on from a misplaced love.
“Your kisses don’t matter to me as a result of I’ve a brand new love/to whom I promise you I’ll give my life,” the tune goes.
In 1970 he wrote the seminal Latin American love tune “Yolanda,” which remains to be an everlasting favourite in all places from Outdated Havana’s vacationer cafes to Mexico Metropolis cantinas.
Spanish newspaper El Pais requested Milanés in 2003 what number of girls he had flirted with by saying they impressed the tune. “None,” he responded, laughing. “However many have advised me: ‘My youngster is the product of ‘Yolanda.’”
Milanés supported the 1959 Cuban Revolution however was nonetheless focused by authorities in the course of the early years of Fidel Castro’s authorities, when all method of “different” expression was extremely suspect. Milanés was reportedly harassed for carrying his hair in an afro, and was given obligatory work element for his curiosity in international music.
These experiences didn’t dampen his revolutionary fervor, nonetheless, and he started to include politics into his songwriting, collaborating with musicians corresponding to Silvio Rodríguez and Noel Nicola.
The three are thought of the founders of the Cuban “nueva trova,” a often guitar-based musical model tracing to the ballads that troubadours composed in the course of the island’s wars of independence. Infused with the spirit of Sixties American protest songs, the nueva trova makes use of musical storytelling to spotlight social issues.
Milanés and Rodríguez specifically grew to become shut, touring the world’s levels as cultural ambassadors for the Cuban Revolution, and bonding throughout boozy classes.
“If Silvio Rodríguez and I acquired collectively, the rum was all the time there,” Milanés advised El Pais in 2003. “We had been all the time three, not two.”
Milanés was pleasant with Castro, vital of U.S. international coverage and for a time even a member of the communist authorities’s parliament. He thought of himself loyal to the revolution and spoke of his satisfaction at serving Cuba.
“I’m a employee who labors with songs, doing in my very own means what I do know finest, like every other Cuban employee,” Milanés as soon as stated, in response to The New York Occasions. “I’m devoted to my actuality, to my revolution and the best way through which I’ve been introduced up.”
In 1973, Milanés recorded “Versos Sencillos,” which turned poems by Cuban Independence hero José Martí into songs. One other composition grew to become a form of rallying name for the political left of the Americas: “Music for Latin American Unity,” which praised Castro because the inheritor of Martí and South American liberation hero Simon Bolívar, and forged the Cuban Revolution as a mannequin for different nations.
In 2006, when Castro stepped down as president because of a life-threatening sickness, Milanés joined different distinguished artists and intellectuals in voicing their assist for the federal government. He promised to characterize Castro and Cuba “as this second deserves: with unity and braveness within the presence of any menace or provocation.”
But he was unafraid to talk his thoughts and infrequently advocated publicly for extra freedom on the island.
In 2010 he backed a dissident starvation striker who was demanding the discharge of political prisoners. Cuba’s ageing leaders “are caught in time,” Milanés advised Spanish newspaper El Mundo. “Historical past ought to advance with new concepts and new males.”
The next yr, because the island was enacting financial modifications that will permit higher free-market exercise, he lobbied for President Raul Castro to do extra. “These freedoms have been seen in small doses, and we hope that with time they may develop,” Milanés advised The Related Press.
Milanés disagreed with out dissenting, prodded with out pushing, hewing to Fidel Castro’s infamous 1961 warning to Cuba’s mental class: “Throughout the Revolution, all the pieces; exterior the Revolution, nothing.”
“I disagree with many issues in Cuba, and everybody is aware of it,” Milanés as soon as stated.
Ever political even when his bushy afro had given approach to extra conservatively trimmed, grey, thinning locks, in 2006 he contributed the tune “Exodo” (Exodus), about lacking associates who’ve departed for different lands, to the album “Somos Individuals” (We Are Individuals), a compilation of U.S. and Latin American artists’ songs about immigration.
Rodríguez and Milanés had a falling out within the Nineteen Eighties for causes that had been unclear and had been barely on talking phrases, although they maintained a mutual respect and Rodríguez collaborated musically with Milanés’ daughter.
Milanés sang within the 1980′s album “Amo esta isla” that “I’m from the Caribbean and will by no means stroll on terra firma;” nonetheless, he divided most of his time between Spain and Mexico in later years.
By his personal depend he underwent greater than 20 leg surgical procedures.
Milanés gained two Latin Grammys in 2006 — finest singer-songwriter album for “Como un Campo de Maiz” (Like a Cornfield) and finest conventional tropical album for “AM/PM, Lineas Paralelas” (AM/PM, Parallel traces), a collaboration with Puerto Rican salsa singer Andy Montanez.
He additionally gained quite a few Cuban honors together with the Alejo Carpentier medal in 1982 and the Nationwide Music Prize in 2005, and the 2007 Haydee Santamaria medal from the Casa de las Americas for his contributions to Latin American tradition.