Pablo Milanés dies: Grammy-winning Cuban singer was 79

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.

One of the 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 a long time.

“The culture in Cuba is in mourning for the death of Pablo Milanés,” Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz tweeted.

Milanés’ representatives stated he 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 japanese Cuban metropolis of Bayamo, the youngest of 5 siblings born to working-class mother and father. His musical profession started with him singing in, and infrequently profitable, native TV and radio contests.

His household moved to Havana, the place he studied on the Havana Musical Conservatory in the course of the Nineteen Fifties, however he credited neighborhood musicians moderately than formal coaching for his early inspiration, together with traits from the USA and different nations.

Pablo Milanés in Buenos Aires in 2004.

(Natacha Pisarenko / Related Press)

Within the early ’60s he was in a number of teams together with Cuarteto del Rey (the King’s Quartet), composing his first track in 1963: “Tu Mi Desengano,” (You, My Disillusion), which spoke of shifting on from a misplaced love.

In 1970 he wrote the seminal Latin American love track “Yolanda,” which remains to be an everlasting favourite from Previous Havana’s vacationer cafes to Mexico Metropolis cantinas.

Milanés supported the 1959 Cuban Revolution however was however focused by authorities in the course of the early years of Fidel Castro’s authorities, when all method of “alternative” 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, nevertheless, and he started to include politics into his songwriting, collaborating with musicians similar to Silvio Rodríguez and Noel Nicola.

The three are thought of the founders of the Cuban “nueva trova,” a sometimes 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 Nineteen Sixties American protest songs, the nueva trova makes use of musical storytelling to focus on 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 got together, the rum was always there,” Milanés instructed El Pais in 2003. “We were always three, not two.”

Milanés was pleasant with Castro and significant of U.S. international coverage, and even served as 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 am a worker who labors with songs, doing in my own way what I know best, like any other Cuban worker,” Milanés as soon as instructed the New York Occasions. “I am faithful to my reality, to my revolution and the way in which I have been brought 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 rallying name for the political left of the Americas: “Song 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 help for the federal government. He promised to symbolize Castro and Cuba “as this moment deserves: with unity and courage in the presence of any threat 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 getting older leaders “are stuck in time,” Milanés instructed Spanish newspaper El Mundo. “History should advance with new ideas and new men.”

The next 12 months, because the island was enacting financial modifications that may permit better free-market exercise, he lobbied for President Raul Castro to do much more. “These freedoms have been seen in small doses, and we hope that with time they will grow,” Milanés instructed 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: “Within the Revolution, everything; outside the Revolution, nothing.”

“I disagree with many things in Cuba, and everyone knows it,” Milanés as soon as stated.

Ever political even when his bushy afro had given method to extra conservatively trimmed, grey, thinning locks, in 2006 he contributed the track “Exodo” (Exodus), about lacking mates who’ve departed for different lands, to the album “Somos Americans” (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 have been unclear and have been barely on talking phrases, although they maintained a mutual respect and Rodríguez collaborated musically with Milanés’ daughter.

Milanés gained two Latin Grammys in 2006 — greatest singer-songwriter album for “Como un Campo de Maiz” (Like a Cornfield) and greatest 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 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.