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Omara Portuondo

Omara Portuonda is the grand old lady of Cuban music. While her early recordings made her a star in Cuba, her participation in the 1996 album and video documentary, The Buena Vista Social Club, brought her to international attention. Her solo album, The Buena Vista Social Club Presents Omara Portuondo, released in 2000, reinforced her status as one of Cuba's greatest musical ambassadors.

A native of Havana, Portuondo was one of three daughters born to a baseball player on the Cuban national team and a woman of Spanish heritage who left the comfort and support of her wealthy family home to marry the man she loved. Her parents' singing provided the soundtrack for her early life. As a youngster, she sang in school choirs and music classes.

Heavily influenced by an older sister, Haydee, a dancer at the Tropicana cabaret, Portuondo attended many of the troupe's rehearsals. When the ensemble found itself short one dancer, in 1945, she was recruited to fill the vacancy. The experience launched her on a career as a dancer and she formed a successful partnership with Rolando Espinosa. Portuondo balanced her dancing with singing engagements with friends, including Cesar Portillo De La Luz, Jose Antonio Mendez, and pianist Frank Emilio Flynn, calling themselves Loquimbambla Swing. The group helped to pioneer the filin style of music that blended bossa nova and American jazz. For a while, she also performed with Orquestra Anaconda.

In 1952, Portuondo joined with her sister and Elena Burke to form a vocal group, Cuarteto d'Aida. The group's sound was established with the addition of pianist and director Aida Diestro and female vocalist Moraima Secada. Although she released her debut solo album, Magia Negra, in 1959, Portuondo continued to work with the group.

Cuarteto d'Aida's fortunes were drastically effected by the Bay of Pigs crisis in 1961. Although they had become frequent performers in Miami, FL, they were prevented from returning as the relationship between Cuba and the United States collapsed. While Portuondo returned to her homeland, continuing to perform with Cuarteto d'Aida until 1967, her sister elected to remain in the United States.

Although she performed with Orquestra Aragon in the 1970s, Portuondo had settled into semi-retirement by the mid-'90s. Her plans to slow down her career were altered after Ry Cooder, who was in Cuba recording with the Chieftains, heard her sing in 1995. When he returned, the following year, to produce The Buena Vista Social Club, Portuondo was invited to become a featured vocalist with the all-star group. In 1998, Portuondo recorded a duo album, Desafios, with Cucho Valdes. ~ Craig Harris
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Duets

1. Este Son Homenaje

3. Deja Que Suba La Marea

4. Habana Travel

5. Como Es Posible

6. Viento

7. Para Vivir De Lejos

9. Amor, Dame Vida

10. Nuestras Vidas / Mi Corazon Es Para Ti

11. La Cumbancha

12. Sigamos Amantes

13. El Amor De Mi Bohio

14. Reclamo Mistico

15. Libre De Pecado

16. Amigas

17. Eso No Lo He Dicho Yo

20. Pelotero La Bola

x

Track List: Singles

1. Tres Palabras

2. Polvo De Nuevo Amor

3. Color De Vida

4. Ay, Caramba

5. La Rosa Oriental

6. Me Faltabas Tu

7. Por Nuestra Cobardia

8. Quien Antes Fue

9. Tocan A La Puerta

10. Te Dije Quedate

11. No Te Importe Saber

12. En Ir Y Venir

14. Nuestro Gran Amor

15. Y Solo Tu Y Yo

16. Tiempo Mejor

17. Quiereme Mucho

18. Rumba Columbia

19. Danza De Los Nanigos

20. Lo Que Yo Sueno

x

Track List: Sentimiento

1. Verdad Amarga

2. La Cumbancha

3. Eso No Lo He Dicho Yo

4. Mi Son Caliente

5. Vieja Luna

6. Te Quería

7. Agua Que Cae Del Cielo

8. Échale Salsita

9. Vale La Pena Vivir

10. Toda Una Vida

11. Guitarra En Son Mayor

12. Vuela Pena

13. Me Acostumbré A Estar Sin Ti

14. Y Mucho Más

15. Nada Para Ti

x

Track List: Flor De Amor

1. Tabu

2. Amor De Mis Amores

3. Alma De Roca

4. Mueve La Cintura Mulato

5. Junto A Un Canaveral

6. Hermosa Habana

7. El Madrugador

8. Amorosa Guajira

9. Habanera Ven

10. Si Ilego A Besarte

11. Flor De Amor

12. Jurmento

13. He Venido A Decirte

14. Casa Calor

x

Track List: La Gran Omara Portuondo

1. Y Mucho Más

2. Veinte Años

3. Cómo Fue

4. Y Sólo Tú Y Yo

5. Interludio

6. Danza De Los Ñáñigos

7. La Era Está Pariendo Un Corazón

8. Canción De Un Festival

9. Por Qué Dudas

10. Y Tal Vez

11. Eso No Lo He Dicho Yo

12. Me Acostumbré A Estar Sin Ti

13. Tocan A La Puerta

14. Allí

15. Siboney

16. Nada Para Tí

17. Es Lo Que Me Queda Por Vivir

18. Gracias A La Vida

19. Vuela Pena

x

Track List: La Novia Del Filin

1. Campanitas De Cristal

2. El Amor De Mi Bohio

4. Bajo Un Palmar

5. Confidencia De Amor

6. Toda Una Vida

7. Como Es Posible

8. Increible

9. No Te Quejes

10. Y Tu Que Has Hecho

11. Quiero Hablar Contigo

12. Nosotros

13. Libre De Pecado

14. Te Queria

15. Piensa En Mi

16. Verdad Amarga

17. Vieja Luna

19. La Cumbancha

20. La Ultima Noche

x

Track List: Buena Vista Social Club Presents: Omara Portuondo

1. La Sitiera

2. He Perdido Contigo

3. ¿Donde Estabas Tu?

4. Mariposita De Primavera

5. Canta Lo Sentimental

6. Ella Y Yo

7. No Me Vayas A Engañar

8. No Me Llores Más

9. Veinte Años

10. El Hombre Que Yo Ame (The Man I Love)

11. Siempre En Mi Corazón

Comments

Report as inappropriate
jacobpevia
I was fortunate to see this beautiful chanteuse sing live. Unforgettabl e thank you God
Report as inappropriate
Canciononon. . . .
Report as inappropriate
senseijedi
Siendo Dominicano, ámo mi Merengue y mi Bachata, pero me encanta TODA la musica Cubana, especialment e las de ayer.
-(Being Dominican, I love my Merengue and Bachata, but I so enjoy ALL the Cuban music, specially yesterday's)
Report as inappropriate
laura_e4
Hi Pandora, the first line of Omara Portuondo's bio, her last name has a typo: it's written Portuonda instead of Portuondo.
Thanks for letting us enjoy her music through your service! She's truly a gem and really fun to watch in concert.
Report as inappropriate
bobhogan73
I feel so fortunate to have seen the Buena Vista Social Club on television in the United States (PBS I think). I love the music and the people. What a gem! I might not understand the words, but that's secondary to the sheer joy!
Report as inappropriate
omara el corazon y sentimineto de cuba
Report as inappropriate
lucilo354
best of the best
Report as inappropriate
patriotnurse
Echale Salsita...cl a s s i c Cuban music by the grand dame Omara Portuondo

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