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Omara Portuondo and Buena Vista Social Club Return to the US

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Thursday October 01, 2009

Omara Portuondo, the world renowned vocalist who began her career in the music scene of her native Cuba in the 1940s, has been granted a travel visa to perform in the United States for two very special dates in October.

Omara, whom the Los Angeles Times called “the queen of Caribbean vocalists,” will perform at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco on October 20, as part of the 2009 San Francisco Jazz Festival. Later that same week, she will perform on the campus of UCLA on Friday, October 23.

The permission to perform in the States comes just a few days after her 2008 recording, Gracias (World Village / Montuno), received a Latin Grammy nomination in the category of Best Contemporary Tropical Album. Gracias, which marks her sixtieth year in the music business, was recorded in Havana with a first-class quintet that includes pianist Roberta Fonseca, guitarist and musical director Swami Jr., bassist Avishai Cohen and percussionists Andre Coayo and Trilok Gurtu. At the time of the album’s release, The New York Times noted that the years were no match for Omara’s enduring vocal prowess: “Her voice…is rich, shapely, dynamic and still sultry.”

“José Martí, our great Cuban poet, once said that ‘music is the soul of the people,’” says Omara. “Music is at the heart of every culture, something to be shared among all people, regardless of borders and politics. It has always been a universal language for people who might not otherwise understand each other. Perhaps, through these performances, I could be a goodwill ambassador between these two countries.”

After six decades, Omara gives no thought to a final curtain call. She continues to derive a youthful energy from the positive vibrations of the world around her. “It is the simple and profound things – life, love – that inspire me most,” she says. “Singing energizes me, and with this energy, I can introduce my culture and my roots to the world. Music is a part of nature, and a huge part of my life.”

For more information about Omara’s performances in UCLA and San Francisco



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