Omara Portuondo is one of Cuba’s greatest vocalists and has been very popular from the day she started singing professionally in the late forties. From 1950 through the late 1960s, she was Cuba’s top performer of songs in the filin style (the word is taken from the English word feeling, and describes music inspired by the performances of Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, and Glenn Miller, among others). At the height of her popularity, Portuondo sang with a number of different groups, always with great success.
She started her professional career at the Cabaret Tropicana in Havana in 1930, and in the 1950's she began her international career backing Nat King Cole. In 1997, at the age of 67, Omara became The Diva of Buena Vista Social Club, crowning her fame after half a century of a huge national and international solo career. Omara won her first Latin Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Tropical Album along with a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. She received three Grammy Award nominations in 2019, and in 2021, Omara was awarded with the Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports, in a ceremony presided over by the King and Queen of Spain, and then she won the prestigious Songlines Pioneer Award for her life long contribution to Cuban music and culture.
Omara Portuondo Pelaez was born in Cayo Hueso (Havana) in 1930. Omara’s mother came from a rich Spanish family and was expected to marry into another society family. Instead she ran off with the man she loved, a tall, handsome baseball player from the Cuban national team. Moreover he was black and in those days mixed race marriages were still frowned upon in Cuba. “My mother always hid the fact that she had married a black man. If they bumped into each other in the street they had to ignore each other. But at home they recreated what society denied them – a haven of peace and harmony. They loved each other very much,” Omara recalls.
OMARA PORTUONDO VIDA
Con “Vida”, Omara Portuondo cumple la petición que su madre le hizo antes de morir: llevar la música almundo. Es un homenaje a su existencia, y, en parte, pretende devolver el cariño que sus seguidores leprofesan allá por donde ella va.
A sus 90 años, Omara se encontró atrapada en La Habana por culpa de la pandemia.
Conocido su sentido humano, era natural que Omara quisiera expresarse en momentos tan significativos.La cubana legendaria tiene tanta energía que era natural que invitase a algunos de sus amigos de toda lavida a participar en la grabación de un disco.
Su hijo, Ariel Jiménez, al cuidado de la carrera y el bienestar de Omara en las últimas décadas, organizó lasgrabaciones, en su casa de La Habana, con el apoyo del productor Pedro Pablo Cruz y el sonido delingeniero Orestes Águila.
Ariel encontró la producción artística perfecta en la cantautora guatemalteca, también nominada alGrammy 2021, Gaby Moreno, una personalidad cercana a la de Omara, fascinada por la fuerza de su voz,su carisma en el escenario y su enorme generosidad.
Este disco es un homenaje al legado musical de Omara. Quien haya amado la música cubana y latina en losúltimos 50 años, sentirá la belleza de estas canciones eternas. Es uno de esos álbumes que perdurarán enel tiempo como parte de la historia de la música.
“VIDA” reflexiona sobre pensamientos y sentimientos de Omara en este período reciente, además de serun homenaje a la vida en general.
OMARA PORTUONDO VIDA
With the album "Vida" ("Life"), Omara Portuondo fulfills the request her mother made to her before she died: to bring music to the world. It is a tribute to her existence, and, in part, she intends to return the affection that her fans have for her wherever she goes.
In her 90s, Omara found herself trapped in Havana because of the pandemic.
Knowing her human sense, it was only natural that Omara wanted to express herself in such significant moments. The legendary Cuban has so much energy that it was natural for her to invite some of her lifelong friends to participate in the recording of an album.
Her son, Ariel Jimenez, who has taken care of Omara's career and well-being in recent decades, organized the recordings, at his home in Havana, with the support of producer Pedro Pablo Cruz and sound engineer Orestes Aguila.
Ariel found the perfect artistic production in Guatemalan singer-songwriter, also a 2021 Grammy nominee, Gaby Moreno, a personality close to Omara's, fascinated by the strength of her voice, her charisma on stage and her enormous generosity.
This album is a tribute to Omara's musical legacy. Anyone who has loved Cuban and Latin music over the last 50 years will feel the beauty of these timeless songs. It is one of those albums that will endure in time as part of music history.
"VIDA" reflects on Omara's thoughts & feelings in this recent period, as well as being a tribute to life in general.
OMARA PORTUONDO Discography
- Magia Negra (Velvet, 1959. Reissued by Kubaney and Kristal) – With Julio Gutiérrez
- Seis Voces y un Sentimiento (Egrem ,1960)
- Omara Portuondo (Areito, 1967)
- Esta es Omara Portuondo (Areito, 1967)
- Omara Portuondo: Omara! (Areito ,1974)
- Omara Portuondo & Martín Rojas (Love Records, 1975) – With Martín Rojas
- Y Tal Vez (Areito, 1981)
- Canta El Son (Areito, 1983)
- Omara Portuondo, Adalberto Alvarez Y Su Son (Sonografica, 1984) – With Adalberto Y Su Son
- Pensamiento (Artex, 1992)
- Palabras (Intuition/Nubenegra, 1996)
- Buena Vista Social Club (World Circuit, 1997)
- Desafios (Intuition/Nubenegra, 1998) – With Chucho Valdés
- Oro Musical (Max Music, 1999)
- Buena Vista Social Club Presents Omara Portuondo (World Circuit, 2000)
- Omara Portuondo: Roots of Buena Vista (Egrem, 2000)
- Roots of Buena Vista: La Novia Del Feeling (Egrem, 2000) – With Orquesta Todos Estrellas
- La Gran Omara Portuondo (Egrem, 2000)
- Dos Gardenias (Tumi Records, 2001)
- La Sitiera (WEA, 2001)
- You (King, 2001)
- Joyas Inéditas (Egrem, 2002)
- La Colección Cubana (Nascente, 2003)
- Flor De Amor (World Circuit, 2004)
- Together (Havana Nites, 2004) – With Ibrahim Ferrer
- Together Again (Havana Nites, 2004) – With Ibrahim Ferrer
- Sentimiento (La Escondida, 2005)
- Lágrimas Negras (Canciones y Boleros) (Yemaya, 2005)
- The Essential Omara Portuondo (Manteca, 2006)
- Quiereme Mucho (PID, 2006)
- Together (Soliton, 2006) – With Celina González
- Singles (Malanga Music,2007)
- Duets (Malanga Music, 2007)
- Maria Bethânia e Omara Portuondo (Biscoito Fino, 2008) – With Maria Bethânia
- Gracias (World Village, 2008)
- Omara & Chucho (Random Music, 2011) – With Chucho Valdés
- Magia Negra: The Beginning (World Village, 2014)
- Omara Siempre (Egrem, 2018)
- VIDA (One World Records 2023) ft Gaby Moreno, Andy Montañez, Rapahel & Orchesta Failde, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Susana Baca, Carlos Rivera, Ruben Blades, Nathalia Lafoucade, Amaury Pérez & Alexander Abreu