Omara Portuondo

 

Buena Vista Social Club™’s leading lady Omara Portuondo began her career not as a singer but as a dancer at the fabled Tropicana cabaret in Havana. In 1952 she and her older sister, Haydee teamed up with Elena Burke and Moraima Secada to form the vocal group Cuarteto D’Aida, backed by the pianist Aida Diestro. The group toured America, performed with Nat King Cole at the Tropicana and recorded an album for RCA Victor before the revolution put an end to such possibilities, although she continued to sing with the group until 1967 when she launched a solo career. She achieved great success in Cuba as a leading voice in the ‘feelin’ style. When a female voice was required for the Buena Vista sessions in 1996, she was the perfect choice, collaborating memorably with Compay Segundo on Veinte Años. Subsequently her duet with Ibrahim Ferrer on Silencio became a highlight of Wim Wenders’s documentary and the Buena Vista live shows. She has since recorded two albums for World Circuit with Buena Vista Social Club™ Presents Omara Portuondo (2000) and Flor de Amor (2004). In 2007 she performed the title role in Lizt Alfonso’s dance musical Vida and in 2008 released an album of duets with the Brazilian singer Maria Bethania as well as the Latin GRAMMY winning solo album Gracias.