It’s fall, and time is approaching for the kick off. No, not for football (although that is a staple of the autumn also). I’m referring to the first performance of the 2010/2011 season at The Paramount. The season begins with a special performance by a living legend, Omara Portuondo. On the 29th of this month, she turns 80. That’s right, eight decades and has been in show business for over 60 years. Wow.
Portuondo is a legend and ambassador of música Cubana. Listing all of her life accomplishments and discography would easily take me until Christmas (remember, 80 years), so I’ll keep it brief. She began in 1947 by singing with her sisters. After singing with different groups, she embarked on a solo career in the 1960s, where she garnered international acclaim. Her music also attracted attention for sometimes skewing political, referring to Chilean leader Salvador Allende and even Ché Guevara in some of her work. Through it all, she has remained closely tied to her Cuban roots. Heck, to this day, she’s still a fixture at The Tropicana Club in Havana, fifty years after she preformed there the first time.
Modern audiences are more apt to know her from her involvement in “The Buena Vista Social Club” album from 1997. American guitarist Ry Cooder (he of the slide guitar) worked with Juan de Marcos González to assemble a band of Cuban musicians, honoring the heritage and passion of pre-revolutionary Cuba. Widely acclaimed at its release, the grupo musicales was also featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary The Buena Vista Social Club. Directed by Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas, Wings of Desire), it documents the creation of the album and the lives of the elder musicians involved.
Doing some digging, I found that you can even watch the film in its entirety, right here.
Omara is a true gem. Her concert promises to be a culmination of a life long lived, and also an homage to a Cuba before our country decided to blacklist their very culture.
Glancing at the seating chart, there are still some limited seating available. Guys, this is one of those once-in-blue moon kind of event. Come down and enjoy this engagement. You can say you’ve seen a living legend, and prove to your friends and colleagues that you know first-hand that Cuban culture consists of more than Fidel Castro or Cohibas.
What a way to kick things off this season.
The show is Thursday, Oct. 7 at 8 pm.