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Omara Portuondo: Bringing new Cuban vistas to Disney Hall — at 85

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Monday October 03, 2016

From Buzzbands.LA

Omara Portuondo: Bringing new Cuban vistas to Disney Hall — at 85
By: Steve Hochman

Omara Portuondo likes to remind Roberto Fonseca that he is living a dream come true. Fonseca doesn’t need much reminding. It’s a dream that goes back to when Fonseca was a schoolboy in Havana in the ’80s, and Portuondo was even then one of the true giants of Cuban music, who made her name as a prized singer in the years before the revolution.

“It was a long time ago,” Fonseca said in a recent phone conversation, quickly adding, “Don’t say I said that to her!”

He went to a club where she was singing, was completely transfixed and approached her after her set.

“I came to her and said, ‘I have a dream that one day I will play for you,’” he said. “I was a child! Sometimes now she reminds me that, that the dream came true.”

These days they’re sharing the dream — though back then neither of them could have imagined where that would take them, such as last summer being on stage at the Hollywood Bowl on the “Adios” tour of the Buena Vista Social Club, Portuondo one of the veteran stars of Cuban music at the heart of that endeavor that since first emerging in the mid-’90s had taken the classic sounds and performers of pre-revolution Havana to global acclaim. And not long after that the tour made a side trip to the White House, something unthinkable in the decades of chilly-at-best relations between Cuba and the US.

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