Fidel Castro’s revolution introduced a brand new musical model to Cuba, nueva trova – not dance music, for which the nation had grow to be rightly well-known, however the work of singer-songwriters. The brand new type of the music had sturdy hyperlinks with the leftwing nueva canción (new track) motion in Chile and Argentina, and positioned an emphasis on poetic lyrics – although the subject material didn’t deal solely with politics and protest, however might embody love songs and reflections on life within the new revolutionary society.
Pablo Milanés, who has died in Madrid aged 79, was one of many nice composers of nueva trova. A Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and guitarist, he toured the world as musical ambassador for the brand new Cuba, usually alongside the model’s different main star, Silvio Rodríguez. Jan Fairley, a specialist in Cuban music, described the hallmark of their songs as being “a way of metaphysical emotion of pleasure and loss, an existential questioning, significantly of the vicissitudes of non-public relationships … They’re a part of a technology which redefined the subject material of Cuban track.”
Milanés, who turned recognized to his followers as Pablito, acquired the standing of a nationwide poet, together with his work recognized and beloved throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Even in the direction of the top of his profession, when he was a bespectacled, avuncular determine who remained seated as he sang, he retained his relaxed, intimate model. With simply the slightest wave of his hand he would encourage an viewers to hitch in with hit songs.
Following Milanés’ demise, the Cuban prime minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz, stated that “Cuban tradition is in mourning” – however the authorities had been much less eager on him within the early days of the revolution, once they disapproved of his haircut and curiosity in international musical kinds.
In 1965 Milanés was despatched on “particular army service”, which meant that he was held in a compelled labour camp, the place these thought to be bohemians had been made to chop sugar cane. He escaped and fled to Havana, the place he was jailed for “insubordination”, lastly gaining his freedom in 1967.
The expertise didn’t dampen his perception within the revolution, and he took notice of Castro’s maxim “throughout the revolution, all the things, exterior the revolution, nothing”.
After his launch he turned a part of the Grupo de Experimentación of younger musicians, together with Rodríguez and Noel Nicola, who co-founded the nueva trova motion, which might grow to be the revolution’s unofficial musical model.
His 1973 album Versos Sencillos de José Martí completely fitted the agenda. This was an idea album, a sequence of recent settings for the poems of José Martí, who had died as a martyr in 1895 through the independence battle in opposition to Spain. An eponymous album of unique songs was launched three years later, and Milanés went on to launch more than 50 albums in a profession lasting over 5 a long time.
His best-loved songs included Yo Me Quedo (I’ll Keep) and Amo Esta Isla (I Love This Island), each from 1982. He gained a number of awards in Cuba, and two Latin Grammys in 2006 for the albums Como un Campo de Maiz (Like a Cornfield) and AM/PM, Lineas Paralelas (AM/PM, Parallel Traces), a collaboration with the Puerto Rican salsa singer Andy Montañez.
Born within the japanese Cuban metropolis of Bayamo, Pablo was the son of Angel Milanés, a leather-based employee, and his spouse, Conchita Arias, a dressmaker. The household moved to Havana in 1950, the place he studied on the music on the Municipal Conservatory of Havana, however was vastly influenced by road musicians he heard taking part in conventional songs. He gave his first public efficiency in 1956.
He turned generally known as an exponent of filin (feeling), a romantic track model influenced by US jazz kinds, that had grow to be common within the 40s however would lose favour after the revolution.
Within the early 60s he performed in numerous bands, together with Cuarteto del Rey, and wrote his old flame track, Tú Mi Desengaño (You, My Disillusion), in 1963. Two years later he recorded the pained Mis 22 Años (My 22 Years), now seen as a precursor of nueva trova.
Milanés described himself as “a employee who labours with songs, doing in my very own method what I do know greatest, like every other Cuban employee. I’m devoted to my actuality, to my revolution and the best way wherein I’ve been introduced up.”
He had been on pleasant phrases with Castro, had a granddaughter in widespread with Che Guevara, and voiced his help for the brand new authorities of Raúl Castro when he took over in 2006. However in his later life he would communicate out when he disagreed with Cuban authorities coverage, and known as for higher freedom within the nation.
Alongside together with his solo work and recordings with Rodríguez, his collaborations included albums with the Cuban pianist and bandleader Chucho Valdés (on Más Allá de Todo, 2009), with two of his personal daughters, Lynn (on Pablo Y Lynn en Concierto, 2011) and Haydée (on Amor, 2017).
He was married 5 occasions. His fifth spouse, Nancy Pérez, whom he married in 2004, was a Spanish historian, and he spent a few years residing in Vigo, Spain. In 2014, Nancy donated a kidney when Milanés was affected by kidney failure, and in 2017 they moved to Madrid so he might obtain specialist most cancers care. He returned to Cuba in June this 12 months to provide a closing, emotional live performance in Havana.
He’s survived by Nancy, and by eight of his 9 youngsters, Rosa, Pablo, Lynn, Liam, Mauricio, Fabien, Haydée and Antonio. One other daughter, Suylén, died in January this 12 months.