Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Me voy a Cuba


My mom always said you need 3 signs to make a decision. I've been toying with the idea of a trip to Cuba since I was 18. Back then in '98, I was a freshman at Clemson University (South Carolina) and knee deep in the Spanish language and International Trade major. That's when my love affair with Cuba started. Unfortunately, at that time, there wasn't a lot of access to Cuban news, arts, or happenings - due to (what I believe) were social ramifications and results from the trade embargo.

Each year, I collected all the Cuban music I could - amassing a pretty impressive collection that I haven't indulged in nearly enough. My senior thesis was on the development of Afro-Cuban music, and I could only use what was available to inform the most prolific, creative, and committed research I've ever conducted. I used the music I collected and the literature that accompanied the CD's - and it was the most engaging project I've ever been involved with creating.

Fast forward 12 years and I find myself in Canada, which probably supports the hightest levels of tourism to Cuba and provides enough literature, travel guides, and support of Cuba's artists to really get my travel bug buzzing.

So back to the 3 signs, which have all transpired in the past 7 days:
  1. At Ottawa's National Arts Center, I got to see David Virelles perform. I wasn't too thrilled about his on-stage piano talent, but his Cuban roots made me Google him. Glad I did!
  2. Also at the NAC, I saw Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba. - This link might not be accessible in the US. Stupid embargo. Google her if you can't access the link.
  3. Just finished reading an article about Bobby Carcass├ęs (singer, trumpeter, pianist, conguero and connector in Cuban jazz) in the New York Times. Check out his music here.

I've detoured from working in the arts field (arts administrators, holla!), but Cuba just might bring me back.

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