Buena Vista Social Club Beautiful Music Straight from Cuba

Buena Vista Social Club video click this picture for video

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Please don’t sleep on these talented elders!

I look back on my time working in the San Francisco Public  Library and Stacey’s Bookstore of SF with much fondness, because I learned so much about my black culture, and as I have said many times before, black culture is global!  Back in the year 2000, while I was still working at Staceys bookstore, I came across a lone video which was labelled as what was called a “remainder”,  simply meaning books and other items that were deeply discounted.  Usually remainders are books that were published a while back, or book related items that are bought by the pallet at deep discounts.  Bookstores resell these items at discounted prices, and they are somewhat like loss leaders. 

Ibrahim Ferrer of the Buena Vista Social Club

So as I browsed the discount section, I found this video which had photos of elder black cubanos on it, and it was stated that they were all musicians and singers. I was curious, so I bought the video to find out who these people were.  Little did I know what I was about to experience!

The Buena Vista Social Club was the name of a Cuban membership club that held dances and musical activities back in the 1940s and 1950s.  The club had some of the most talented musicans of the time, and was the place to be, so much so that people were familiar with the club 40 years later. 
In the 1990s the memory of that Club inspired Cuban musician Juan de Marcos Gonzalez and American guitarist Ry Cooder to seek out any of the surviving members of the musicians and singers, and to re-record some of the music of that was played the band back then.  So the two me met up in Cuba and went searching, asking all around the neighborhoods until they found many of those original band members!  It was beautiful that many were still alive, and were able to be convinced to record the beautiful music of those old times! 
Ibrihim and Omara of Buena Vista Social Club

So after organizing those members and forming a new band, they got to work recording once again.  How romantic and exciting!  The music of their time was so achingly beautiful, and the elder artists still had their phenomenal talents after all those years. Ibrahim Ferrer’s voice is exquisite, even at the age of 70 plus!  Cigar chomping Compay Segundo could still play his guitar beautifully, and piano virtuoso Ruben Gonzalez’ playing was just phenomenal!  Just as I imagine it was in his heyday! 

The songs the elders sang were simple songs: of their country, of love, of beauty, of poverty, and of a love for the music.  The lyrics were simple, and deeply touching, piercing through to the soul, and warming the heart. This is a magnificent music, nearly lost to modern times!  Of course The Buena Vista Social Club became wildly famous all over again, probably more so than before, and it was so beautiful since they were in their 60s, 70s and 80s!  I love how they looked so comfortable and satisfied with success or more so the beauty of the music!!  What a beautiful renaissance!

 

I invite you to watch the movie that was made about these lengendary musicians!  Take the time to hear what these elders are tellling us about their connections to the music and to their families and to Africa! Listen to this music and take it into your heart. The elders will pull you in with their slow, relaxed way.  You’ll feel like you’re sitting at the feet of your favorite grandma and grandpa, as they share the wisdom with us about their lives, and loves.  Its very wonderful to watch. 

The story culminates in the group performing in the Netherlands, then at Carnegie Hall!  It’s so beautiful to watch the reactions of the elders as they are given standing ovations.  I marvel at their emotions as they contemplate the rebirth of their careers, and as they came to America, their reactions to it all–they truly are amazed!

You will be too.   Enjoy!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. VERSE*ALL says:

    My first introduction to the Buena Vista Social Club was in the winter of 2003. It was so jazzy and very beautiful. I became a fan instantly. Great blog by the way and I will also be checking out the movie on youtube!

  2. Anna Renee says:

    @VERSE*ALL Welcome and thank you for your compliments. The BVSC is very wonderful! Such beautiful music that one has to search for to find, but its well worth it!!

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