From the Buena Vista Social Club™ Omara Portuondo
Omara Portuondo is a diva in the best sense, an ambassador of Cuba to the world. Now in her mid-eighties, there is a sense in which the curtains of an era are slowly, elegantly coming down. But she will forever, as the old showbusiness adage has it "Always leave them wanting more." Her solo album of 2000 picked up a Grammy and was followed by the Brazilian tinged Flor De Amor in 2004 which featured a song with family resonance called "Tabu" about inter-racial love. Other recordings and tours followed - a 60th anniversary album Gracias and stellar collaborations with Cuban jazz pianist Chucho Valdes. She was the first Cuban woman to be an International Ambassador for the Red Cross. In recent years, she's sung everywhere from he Royal Opera House in London to the Latin Passion festival in Hong Kong. As Cuban writer Ivan Garcia put it "Her voice is still lush, as it was when she sang in her parents' dressing room. In Cuba, some things are lacking. But we do have Omara Portuondo. She still lives in an apartment overlooking the sweep of the Malecon in Havana, and even if her dynamic career slows down it's hard to imagine she won't be lured out to some of her old haunts like the Cafe Cantante or the Tropicana. Producer Ry Cooder said about the Buena Vista Social Club musicians, that he was lucky, as we all are to "have caught the tail end of a comet" of a great music culture that was cut off for decades.