Sublette, Ned 1951–

views updated

Sublette, Ned 1951–

PERSONAL: Born 1951, in Lubbock, TX. Education: University of New Mexico, B.A.; University of California, San Diego, M.A. Studied classical guitar with Emilio Pujol in Spain.

ADDRESSES: HomeNew York, NY. Office—Qbadisc Records, P.O. Box 1256, Old Chelsea Station, New York, NY 10011.

CAREER: Musician, composer, and songwriter, 1976–; Qbadisc, New York, NY, founder and producer, 1990–. Former senior coproducer, Afropop Worldwide, Public Radio International. Organizer and director of radio performance projects and radio production workshop, KUNM-FM, Albuquerque, NM. Recording artist and performer in United States, Europe, and the Caribbean.

AWARDS, HONORS: Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers fellowship, 2003–04; Tulane Rockefeller humanities fellowship, 2004–05; Top Rock Read designation, Rolling Stone, 2005, for Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo.


A Discography of Hispanic Music in the Fine Arts Library of the University of New Mexico, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1978.

Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo, A Cappella Press (Chicago, IL), 2004.


(With the Southwesterners) Western Classics, Lovely Music (New York, NY), 1982

Miscellaneous Abstract Record No. 1, Green Linnet (New Canaan, CT), 1982

(With the musical group Citation) Radio Rhythm (S-I-G-N-A-L S-M-A-R-T), Sleeping Bag Records (New York, NY), 1984.

Cowboy Rumba, Rykodisc USA (Salem, MA), 1999.

Also songwriter on recording Monsters from the Deep, with Lawrence Weiner. Composer and lyricist of opera about Simone Weil, first produced in Australia.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Cuba and Its Music: From the Revolution to the Millennium.

SIDELIGHTS: Ned Sublette's scholarship is literally hands-on in nature; a Lubbock, Texas-born singer, songwriter, and performer, he is well versed in classical guitar, Western swing, and Latin music. Sublette relocated to New York City in 1976 and has worked as a solo artist and with bands in clubs and concerts. He has also done European tours and produced a radio series on Afropop music. Sublette is equally well known, however, for his devotion to Cuban music and his efforts to bring Cuba's unique styles to wider American audiences. As the co-founder of Qbadisc Records, he has produced recordings of Cuban artists, including Celina González, Issac Delgado, Carlos Varela, and Orlando "Maraca" Valle. These varied interests and influences found their way into Sublette's book Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo.

More than 600 pages in length, Cuba and Its Music ranges widely through ancient and current history to explain the diverse cultural influences on Cuban music and the resulting music's subsequent influence on American forms such as rock and roll. Sublette also details the differences between Cuban dance music and the African-inspired jazz of New Orleans and the U.S. Deep South. Named among Rolling Stone magazine's "top rock reads" in 2004, Cuba and Its Music is based on the author's conciderable musical knowledge, his bilingual reading, and his numerous trips to Cuba, Spain, and Africa.

To quote Robert Christgau in the Los Angeles Times, Cuba and Its Music "is an exceptionally evenhanded study. Sublette's research is monumental." Maintaining that no more comprehensive source exists in Spanish, the critic added that Sublette "proves a deft, readable stylist with a knack for popular history. His writing is as vivid and fast-moving as the music he loves…. its intelligence and rigor completely compatible with sardonic wisecracks and irrepressible bursts of informal verve." Nation correspondent Ann Louise Bardach offered even more emphatic praise of the work. "I read a few dozen books on Cuba and exiles before writing my own," the critic observed, "so I don't say this lightly: If you buy only one book on Cuba in your life—and want the history, culture, and politics all in one volume—this is the one." In the Manchester Guardian, Joe Boyd called Cuba and Its Music "an astonishing work that explains much about our modern world—why, for example, white people can't dance." Boyd concluded that the work "is a magnificent and startling book that has more original insights into our own culture and history than a library full of other works of musical, social, religious or political history." A Rolling Stone contributor commended the book as "the most daring, thorough and lively social history of music ever attempted," while a Publishers Weekly reviewer dubbed Cuba and Its Music "a solid, supremely lush effort" and called Sublette "a well-known figure among elite mambo aficionados."



Guardian (Manchester, England), January 1, 2005, Joe Boyd, "Havana Good Time," review of Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo, p. 13.

Los Angeles Times, October 31, 2004, Robert Christgau, "The Rhythms of a Universe," review of Cuba and Its Music, p. R9.

Nation, October 25, 2004, Ann Louise Bardach, "Rhythm Nation," review of Cuba and Its Music, p. 36.

New York Times Book Review, October 31, 2004, Eric Weisbard, "The Ancestors of Pop," review of Cuba and Its Music, p. 31.

Rolling Stone, December 30, 2004–January 13, 2005, "Top Rock Reads," p. 176.

Washington Post Book World, July 18, 2004, Tom Miller, "Pulse of a Nation," review of Cuba and Its Music, p. 7.

ONLINE, (February 28, 2005), "Ned Sublette."