Cuban vocalist Omara Portuondo (born 1930), long a well-loved star in her native country, reached an international audience with the release of the Buena Vista Social Club album and film of the late 1990s.
The elegant Portuondo, who was nearly 70 at the time, was the only woman among the Buena Vista Social Club artists who reintroduced classic Cuban music to the world. She stood out from that group in another way as well: in contrast to the Afro-Cuban roots music featured in most of the project, Portuondo specialized in a different kind of Cuban song, one with a thoroughly romantic spirit and with strong influences from American jazz and pop as well as other non-Cuban traditions. She was not a forgotten treasure but a modern figure, less well known in the United States than her compatriot Celia Cruz partly because of the political estrangement between the U.S. and Cuba. "In Cuba we have always had the opportunity to get to know many parts of the world, the music of South America, North America, Latin America. I take the best from everywhere," Portuondo told San Diego Union-Tribune writer Andrew Gilbert.
Started Out in Chorus Line
Portuondo was born on October 20, 1930, in the musically fertile Cayo Hueso neighborhood of Havana, Cuba. Her parents were an unusual couple who raised eyebrows: her mother was an upper-class woman of Spanish descent who was expected to marry a man with the same kind of background but instead chose an Afro-Cuban baseball star, Bartolo Portuondo. For many years they could not walk down the street in public, but the marriage endured. Living on a modest income, the family could not afford a record player, and Portuondo's parents liked to sing romantic duets around the house. Though they were not involved in music themselves they had a circle of musician friends. Portuondo's father had attended school with Cuban song composer Ernesto Grenet.
Portuondo was shy as a child, and at first she left the spotlight to her sister Haydee, a member of the chorus line at Havana's Tropicana Club. When Omara was 15, her mother talked her into a filling in for another dancer who was sick that day. She tried to refuse, saying that she was ashamed to show her legs. "Then my mother said, 'Do it for me. You'll see, one day you'll represent your country all over the world with your art,'" Portuondo recalled to Rob Adams of Scotland's Glasgow Herald. It was not a problem for Portuondo to learn the chorus line's steps, for she had been watching the dancers closely as they rehearsed.
She and Haydee soon joined forces as a harmony duo, performing in nightclubs for audiences that were heavily sprinkled with American tourists. Portuondo won a lead-vocalist slot with a group called Loquibambla Swing, fronted by a blind pianist named Frank Emilio Flynn. The group contained several American musicians, and they created a new style called "fillin"—feeling—that was a stew of pan-American sounds including Brazilian bossa nova music. Heard daily on a Cuban radio show called Mil diez, Portuondo was dubbed "La novia del filín," or the fiancée of feeling.
In 1952, Portuondo formed the group Cuarteto las d'Aida with her sister Haydee, Elena Burke, and Moraima Secada. The group took its name from pianist and director Aida Diestro, and Cuban jazzman Chico O'Farrill composed many of their vocal arrangements. The quartet was a hit from the start, and Portuondo appeared on stage with such 1950s stars as Nat "King" Cole and Sarah Vaughan. Cuarteto las d'Aida toured the U.S. and Europe beginning in 1957, and Portuondo released a solo album, Magía Negra. In 1961, Cuarteto las d'Aida was performing in Miami when Cuban-American relations reached a crisis point: after the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, assisted by the United States Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. and the Soviet Union came to the brink of nuclear war over missiles the U.S.S.R. had installed on the island. Portuondo, who remained a lifelong supporter of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, returned to her homeland. Her sister, along with a host of other Cuban performers, remained in the U.S.
Continued International Touring Despite U.S. Ban
To some degree, Portuondo filled a gap left by the departure of so many other Cuban creative artists, and her career flourished at home, at first with a reformed Cuarteto Las d'Aida and then, from 1967 on, as a soloist. (For a time she sang revolutionary songs and participated in vocal events around the socialist world.) Continuing to entertain in nightclubs, she also appeared in several films and told Adams that she could easily have become an actress instead of a vocalist: "They're similar artforms anyway. In Cuba, I was taught that singers have to be able to get across what we are singing…. Technique and the voice are of the first order, but one must know how to transmit, understand, and explain the music to the audience." Unlike most of the other musicians featured in the Buena Vista Social Club album and film, Portuondo suffered no real hiatus in her career. She worked with some of Cuba's top musicians, including future Gloria Estefan arranger Juanito Marquez. America was off-limits to Portuondo, but she toured both Western and Eastern Europe with the Orquesta Aragón, a legendary Cuban dance band. "Omara is a legend in Cuba, and it's safe to say there's no one of my age who didn't grow up under her influence," 31-year-old Cuban-born ballet dancer Carlos Acosta told Jenny Gilbert of England's London Independent. "When I was a kid I'd see her all the time on television, singing the kinds of songs my parents liked."
The music Portuondo made as a solo artist continued to draw on a diverse set of cultural influences, including American ones. Her shows often included a Spanish translation of George and Ira Gershwin's "The Man I Love." "I admired Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Tommy Dorsey, and Barbra Streisand," Portuondo told John Soeder of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "In my past repertoire, I included many standards, including 'Summertime' and other pieces from Porgy and Bess." Her specialty was the Cuban song genre known as the bolero, a type of romantic ballad emphasizing love, memory, and loneliness. Portuondo could sing the upbeat jazz that became known as salsa, but at heart she was a classic vocal stylist sometimes compared to the melancholy American jazz diva Billie Holiday or the French chanteuse Edith Piaf. Portuondo married and divorced, and her son, Ariel, became her manager.
Omara, a documentary film about her career, won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival in France in 1986, and she visited the United States that year for the first time since the revolution. She did not make her solo performing debut in the U.S., however, until a Carnegie Hall concert of 1997. By the early 1990s, just when Portuondo's career might have begun to slow down, the Buena Vista Social Club projects raised her profile around the world. She became involved with the group after its organizer and producer, American slide guitarist and world music enthusiast Ry Cooder, heard her on a visit to Havana in the mid-1990s. As Cooder assembled his group of aging Cuban musicians at the government-owned Egrem studios in 1996, Portuondo was coincidentally recording a new album of her own in the same building. Bandleader Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, Portuondo recalled to Adams, "looked in on me and said: 'We need a female voice for a duet with [octogenarian] Compay Segundo, why don't you do it?'" The 66-year-old Portuondo thought, "'What, a love duet with that old guy?' I hadn't seen him for years."
Enjoyed Wide Success with Duets
For her duet with Segundo, Portuondo chose a song called "Veinte Años" (20 Years) that she had recorded many times and had originally learned from her parents years before. She thought that little would come of the session, but the album sold upwards of six million copies around the world, and new touring opportunities began to mushroom. On the soundtrack of the Buena Vista Social Club film (1999), directed by German filmmaker Wim Wenders, Portuondo was featured in a different duet: in "Silencio," her duet partner Ibrahim Ferrer, a classic vocalist of the 1950s bolero era, was seen using a handkerchief to wipe away a tear from her face. The film's Academy Award nomination for best documentary feature helped make Portuondo better known among U.S. audiences.
The Buena Vista Social Club projects were more than career valedictions; they relaunched Portuondo's career as well as those of many of the other performers involved. Her voice, like that of Ferrer, retained its essential sound, and she still had an unmistakable diva quality in performance. Her Buena Vista Social Club Presents Omara Portuondo album of 2000, with full-scale string arrangements, was one of several successful spin-offs from the original Buena Vista Social Club album, and it brought her a Grammy award nomination for best traditional tropical Latin album. "Making a record like this one had always been a dream of mine," Portuondo told Ernesto Lechner of Interview. "I finally got some good production values and a whole string section to work with." Also in 2000, Portuondo launched her first U.S. tour since the Cuban missile crisis, and she performed frequently in the U.S., Mexico and Europe over the next five years. Though she was thrilled to be playing 20,000-seat venues, she drew a contrast between entertainment in capitalist countries and her life back home. "People are not rich here," she told Joe Muggs of England's Daily Telegraph, "but life is relaxed. When I tour the world, I see your celebrities kept apart from the audience, and I wonder why that is; it seems a little sad." She was backed for the most part not by the Buena Vista Social Club musicians but by a jazz-style big band, and she showed no signs of being ready to retire.
Portuondo saw herself as a musical ambassador, connecting Cuba with the rest of the world. "I've done well in Cuba because I can sing with young pop stars, or with great musical heroes like Ibrahim [Ferrer]; I can be at the front of the stage to sing the big emotional songs, but I can join in with the rhythms of the band, too," she explained to Muggs. "If I can get the world audiences to understand what all these different musical expressions mean to us here, I will be very happy." Creatively restless as she approached her 80th year, Portuondo explored Brazilian sounds on her 2004 album Flor de Amor. The album included an old song called "Tabu" that addressed the theme of interracial love. The year 2005 saw her with a full schedule of appearances, including one at the Latin Passion festival in the Chinese enclave of Hong Kong.
Contemporary Musicians, volume 42, Gale, 2003.
Daily Telegraph, April 29, 2004.
Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), May 1, 2004.
Independent (London, England), April 16, 2004; June 6, 2004.
Interview, September 2000.
New York Times, July 2, 2002.
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), April 17, 2002.
San Diego Union-Tribune, March 28, 2002; October 30, 2003.
Sunday Times (London, England), May 2, 2004.
"Portuondo, Omara." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/portuondo-omara
"Portuondo, Omara." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved September 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/portuondo-omara
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.
The elegant vocalist Omara Portuondo, nearly 70 years old at the time, was the only female artist showcased in the successful Buena Vista Social Club album and film that reintroduced classic Cuban music to American audiences in the late 1990s. It wasn't only because she was a woman that Portuondo stood out, however. In contrast to the Afro-Cuban roots music made by the other Buena Vista Social Club stars, Portuondo brought to life a different kind of Cuban song, one with a thoroughly romantic spirit and with a strong influence from American jazz and pop. "In Cuba we have always had the opportunity to get to know many parts of the world, the music of South America, North America, Latin America. I take the best from everywhere," Portuondo told San Diego Union-Tribune writer Andrew Gilbert through an interpreter (she speaks Spanish in interviews).
Portuondo was born in 1930 in the modest but musically rich Cayo Hueso neighborhood of Havana, Cuba. Her parents were an odd and fairly controversial couple for the time: her mother was a high-born woman of Spanish descent who was expected to marry a man of similar background but instead chose an Afro-Cuban baseball star. Neither was particularly musical, but sometimes they sang romantic duets around the house. Portuondo's father had been a schoolmate of Cuban song composer Ernesto Grenet, and musicians and artists were always welcome in the household.
Started Out in Chorus Line
A silent type, Portuondo was a reluctant performer at first. Her sister Haydee became a member of the chorus line at Havana's Tropicana Club, and when Omara was 15 she was asked to join as well after another dancer fell ill. "I was very shy and ashamed to show my legs," Portuondo recalled to Rob Adams of Scotland's Glasgow Herald. "Then my mother said, 'Do it for me. You'll see, one day you'll represent your country all over the world with your art.'" Portuondo, despite her shyness, had closely studied the dancers' routines in rehearsal and had no trouble picking up their steps.
She and Haydee soon began doing a vocal-harmony act in Havana's nightclubs as well, performing American songs for the throngs of tourists who came to the city for a taste of the tropical life. Portuondo began to perform as lead vocalist with a group called Loquibambla Swing, fronted by a blind pianist named Frank Emilio Flynn. That group, appearing daily on Cuban radio, pioneered a new style called filín that merged Cuban sounds with jazz and Brazilian bossa nova music. Portuondo began to find favor among Cuban audiences, who dubbed her "La novia del filín"—the fiancee of feeling.
In 1952, Portuondo formed the group Cuarteto las d'Aida with her sister Haydee, Elena Bourke, and Moraima Secada. The group took its name from pianist and director Aida Diestro, but another key creative contributor was Cuban jazzman Chico O'Farrill, who wrote many of their vocal arrangements. Cuarteto las d'Aida toured the United States and Europe beginning in 1957, and Portuondo released a solo album, Magía Negra, in 1959. Two years later, the rising career of Cuarteto las d'Aida was blocked by the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba assisted by the United States Central Intelligence Agency and the subsequent Cuban missile crisis showdown between the United States and the Soviet Union. Relations between the United States and Cuba deteriorated, and Portuondo, a supporter of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, returned to her homeland. Her sister remained in the United States.
Toured World, Except for United States
Unlike the other musicians featured in the Buena Vista Social Club album and film, Portuondo was a longtime star. "Omara is a legend in Cuba, and it's safe to say there's no one of my age who didn't grow up under her influence," 31-year-old Cuban-born ballet dancer Carlos Acosta told Jenny Gilbert of the London (England) Independent. Portuondo headlined shows at the Tropicana. She worked with some of Cuba's top musicians, including future Gloria Estefan arranger Juanito Marquez. America was off limits to Portuondo, but she toured both Western and Eastern Europe with the Orquesta Aragón, a legendary Cuban dance band.
The music Portuondo made as a solo artist showed the cultural influences with which she had grown up; her shows often included a Spanish translation of George and Ira Gershwin's "The Man I Love." Her specialties were the Latin song genres known as son and bolero—romantic ballads centered on the themes of love, memory, and loneliness. Not an explosive salsa singer like her contemporary Celia Cruz, Portuondo was a classic vocal stylist sometimes compared to the melancholy American jazz diva Billie Holiday or the French chanteuse Edith Piaf. Portuondo married and divorced; her son, Ariel, became her manager.
Omara, a documentary film about her career, won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival in France in 1986. By the early 1990s, Portuondo's schedule had slowed down a bit, but the Buena Vista Social Club projects brought her a whole new generation of admirers. Her involvement with the group came about after its organizer and producer, slide guitarist and world music enthusiast Ry Cooder, heard her on a visit to Havana in the mid-1990s. As Cooder brought together his group of aging Cuban musicians at Cuba's state-owned Egrem studios in 1996, Portuondo happened to be recording a new album of her own in the same building. Bandleader Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, Portuondo recalled to Adams, "looked in on me and said: 'We need a female voice for a duet with Compay Segundo, why don't you do it?'" The 66-year-old Portuondo thought, "'What, a love duet with that old guy?' I hadn't seen him for years."
Featured in Duet in Film
For her duet with Segundo, which appeared on the Buena Vista Social Club album, Portuondo chose a song called "Veinte Años" that she had originally learned from her parents years before. On the soundtrack of the Buena Vista Social Club film (1998) directed by German filmmaker Wim Wenders, however, she was featured in a different duet: in "Silencio," her duet partner Ibrahim Ferrer was seen using a handkerchief to wipe away a tear that fell from her face. After the film won an Academy Award nomination for best documentary feature, Portuondo became better known among U.S. audiences.
At a Glance …
Born in 1930 in Havana, Cuba; married (divorced); children: Ariel (son).
Career: Began performing at age 15 in chorus line at Tropicana Club, Havana; Loquibambla Swing, lead vocalist; Cuarteto las d'Aida, member, 1952-1967; toured United States and Europe, 1957-62; solo artist, 1959-; toured U.S. and Europe, 2000-04.
Addresses: Agent—International Music Network, 278 Main St., Gloucester, MA 01930.
The Buena Vista Social Club projects proved to be much more than a last hurrah for Portuondo as well as for many of the other performers involved. In 2000 she launched her first U.S. tour since the Cuban missile crisis, and she performed frequently in the United States, Mexico, and Europe over the next five years. Her 2004 album Flor de Amor saw her undertaking new experiments with Brazilian sounds, and she showed no signs of being ready to retire. "What we are doing is so much full of love …," Portuondo told Washington Post writer Richard Harrington as she reflected on her new popularity and that of her compatriots. "Love moves the world, and in our case we love so much what we are doing, that's probably the main secret of our success."
Magía Negra, 1959 (reissued Vedisco, 1997).
Soy cubana, Artex, 1993.
Palabras, Intuition, 1996.
(with other artists) Buena Vista Social Club, World Circuit, 1996.
(with Chucho Valdes) Desafinos, Intuition, 1999.
Buena Vista Social Club Presents: Omara Portuondo, Elektra/Asylum, 2000.
Omara Portuondo: Roots of Buena Vista, Egrem, 2000.
Dos Gardenias, Tumi, 2001.
La gran Omara Portuondo, Egrem, 2002.
Flor de Amor, World Circuit, 2004.
Omara (documentary), 1983.
Buena Vista Social Club (documentary), 1999.
Boston Globe, July 30, 2004, p. C13.
Daily Telegraph (London, England), April 29, 2004, p. 23.
Herald (Glasgow, Scotland, U.K.), May 1, 2004, p. 3.
Independent (London, England), April 16, 2004, p. 18; June 6, 2004, Features section, p. 5.
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), April 17, 2002, p. E1.
San Diego Union-Tribune, March 28, 2002, Night & Day section, p. 9; October 30, 2003, Night & Day section, p. 19.
Washington Post, October 20,. 2000, p. N15.
"Omara Portuondo," AfroCubaWeb, http://www.afrocubaweb/portuondo.htm (April 22, 2005).
"Omara Portuondo," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (April 22, 2005).
—James M. Manheim
"Portuondo, Omara." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/portuondo-omara-0
"Portuondo, Omara." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved September 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/portuondo-omara-0
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
For almost 50 years, Omara Portuondo sang and performed nonstop in her native Cuba, where she came to represent a genre of music called filin—a Spanish pronunciation of the word “feeling.” Filin is a style of ballad that combines classic American torch songs with Cuban-inflected jazz. Famous throughout the island, Portuondo made her solo concert debut in the United States in 1997 at Carnegie Hall as the only female member of the award-winning Buena Vista Social Club. Now in her seventies, Portuondo has been introduced to the world and a new generation a fans through extensive touring.
Born on October 29, 1930, in Havana, Cuba, Portuondo was one of three daughters. Her father Bartolo Portuondo was a black baseball player who played for the Cuban team Almandares and spent time in the American Negro National League as well. When Por-tuondo’s mother married Bartolo she was disowned by her wealthy Spanish family, which did not approve of the interracial marriage. Cuban society frowned on mixed marriages as well, preventing her parents from even acknowledging each other in public.
Despite the prejudice that surrounded them, their home life was comfortable. Portuondo learned traditional Cuban songs from her parents, who enjoyed singing. Her introduction to performing came through her older sister Haydee, a dancer at Havana’s famous Tropicana Club. Portuondo often attended rehearsals to watch her sister dance. One day the troupe was short a dancer and they asked Portuondo to join them. She knew all the dances by heart, but she hesitated. Her mother was enthusiastic, on the other hand, as Portuondo told Jane Cornwell of the Independent: “I was very shy and ashamed to show my legs. Then my mother said, ‘Do it for me. You’ll see, one day you’ll represent your country worldwide with your art.’”
Not long after she started dancing at the Tropicana, Portuondo began singing as well. Her first gig as singer was with Loquibambia, a jazz swing band popular in the 1940s and 1950s. Loquibambia was featured on the daily radio show Mil Diez, giving Portuondo national exposure. She sang with other bands bands as well, including Los Cuartetos de Facundo Rivero, Orlando de la Rosa, and the all-female Orquesta Anacaona.
In 1952 Portuondo and her sister formed the quartet Las d’Aida. The group toured Europe and the United States, becoming popular in France and Spain. They also landed a standing gig in Florida and sang backup for American jazz singer Nat King Cole when he performed at the Tropicana. Politics intruded, however, in 1962: the group was performing in Florida when the Cuban missile crisis erupted. Haydee chose to stay in Florida; Portuondo and the others returned to Cuba. Las d’Aida remained together until 1967 when Portuondo decided to launch her solo career. Of her time with the group, Portuondo told Cornwell, “We used to
Born on October 29, 1930, in Havana, Cuba; daughter of Bartolo Portuondo (a baseball player and coach); children: Ariel (son).
Began as a dancer for the Tropicana night club, sang with Loquibambia, Los Cuartetos de Facundo Rivero, Orlando de la Rosa, and Orquesta Anacaona, late 1940s; formed and performed with Las d’Aida with sister Haydee, 1952-67; went solo, 1967; represented Cuba at Sopot Festival in Poland, Fête d’Humanité in Paris, toured with Orquesta Aragaon, 1970s; toured with Buena Vista Social Club, 1997; documentary Buena Vista Social Club released, 1999; toured world wide as solo act, 2000-02.
Awards: Echo Music Awards, Best International Jazz Act, Best Jazz Act, 2000.
Addresses: Booking—International Music Network, 278 Main St., Gloucester, MA 01930, phone: (978) 283-2883, fax: (978) 283-2330.
sing and dance with a spontaneity that won the public over… We were acclaimed everywhere.”
The Cuban revolution and the missile crisis, which forced many of Cuba’s finest talents into exile, created an opportunity for Portuondo to make a name for herself. After 15 years with Las d’Aida, Portuondo stepped out on her own. Although her solo career was hampered at first by the national mourning imposed after the death of Communist activist Che Guevera, eventually she began to represent Cuba in competitions and performances worldwide.
Throughout the 1970s Portuondo performed often at the Tropicana and other Cuban venues. She was also sent to Poland to sing at the Sopot Festival, the socialist version of the Eurovision Song Contest, and to Paris for the Fête d’Humanité. She traveled to Finland and Japan with the group Orquesta Aragon. Her singing brought comparisons with France’s own Edith Piaf.
Besides the early influence of her parents, Portuondo notes a familiar list of musical influences. She explained to John Soeder of Cleveland’s Plain Dealer, “I’ve always admired American music… In Cuba, there always has been great access to American music, so I grew up listening to the classics.” She is inspired by big bands and the performers like Tony Bennett and Sarah Vaughn who made appearances at the Tropicana. She also admires traditional Cuban ballads, telling Jan Fairley of the the Scotsman, that she holds Cuba’s first woman composer and singer, Maria Teresa Vera, in great esteem, “I admired her all my life but I was always in awe of her.”
Not unlike the twist of fate that started her career at the Tropicana, Portuondo experienced another happy accident that launched her into worldwide prominence late in her career. In 1996 she was in a studio in Havana working on a recording with salsa singer Isaac Delgado. In the same studio was American guitarist and producer Ry Cooder, who was recording the Buena Vista Social Club CD with 90-year-old Compay Segundo. Segunda, a longtime friend of Portuondo’s, invited her over to their recording session.
Cooder asked Portuondo to join the troupe of Cuban old-timers he had put together, the Buena Vista Social Club, which was the subject of a film by German filmmaker Wim Wenders. She agreed, becoming the troupe’s only female member. The film and CD—particularly a duet she sang with Ibrahim Ferrer—gave Portuondo international recognition for the first time in her career. She spent the next year touring with the Buena Vista Social Club, debuting in the United States at the age of 67.
In 2000 Portuondo released her own solo album, Buena Vista Social Club Presents Omara Portuondo, which spent over six months in the top 50 albums on Billboard’s Latin and World Music lists and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Traditional Tropical Latin Album. The following year Portuondo and her 14-piece backup band went on a world tour, earning rave reviews wherever they performed. James Griffiths of the Guardian described one of her performances, “Her elastic voice negotiated some truly devious melodies with ease, somehow managing to sound joyful and heartbroken at the same time.”
When asked about her return to the international spotlight, Portuondo told Bob Young of the Boston Herald, “It is like a fairy tale…. But it hasn’t taken me by surprise because even though I wasn’t sure that this was going to happen, from a very early age I wanted it to happen.”
Magia Negra, Velvet, 1959; reissued, Vedisco, 1997.
Seis Voces y un Sentimiento, Egrem, 1960.
Omara Portuondo, Areito, 1967.
Esta es Omara Portuondo, Areito, 1967.
¡Ornara Portuondo… con Adalberto y su Son!, Areito, 1987.
Soy Cubana, Artex, 1993.
Palabras, Intuition/Nubenegra, 1995.
(With various artists) Buena Vista Social Club, World Circuit-Nonesuch, 1997.
Desafíos—Omara Portuondo & Chucho Valdés, Intuition/Nubenegra, 1999.
Oro Musical (compilation), Max Music, 1999.
Buena Vista Social Club Presents Omara Portuondo, World Circuit-Nonesuch, 2000.
La Gran Omara Portuondo, Egrem, 2002.
Boston Herald, October 23, 2000, p. 39.
Guardian (London, England), April 12, 2001, p. 16.
Independent (London, England), April 7, 2000, p. 16.
Latin Beat Magazine, October 1, 2000, p. 38.
Los Angeles Times, September 28, 2000, p. F-6.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, October 11, 2000, p. 3.
Observer (London, England), April 8, 2001, p. 5.
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), April 17, 2002, p. E1.
Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland), February 19, 2001, p. 10.
—Eve M. B. Hermann
"Portuondo, Omara." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/portuondo-omara
"Portuondo, Omara." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved September 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/portuondo-omara