A true Cuban legend
If you hear Omara Portuondo sing today, you won’t just hear one of Cuba's most beloved performers ever. You will be in touch with a golden age of music and show business. Omara, who was born in Havana's Cayo Hueso neighbourhood, performed at the famous Tropicana cabaret with Nat King Cole. She shared stages with Édith Piaf and Beny More and has been accompanied by Cuban jazz legend Chucho Valdés. She made her solo debut on record with Mania Negra back in 1959, and has since become one of the most well known and respected performers of the bolero, the elegant and romantic song tradition, son, trova and many other Cuban styles.
Alongside many of her contemporaries such as Ibrahim Ferrer, Portuondo gained global recognition in 1997 with the Buena Vista Social Club project, of which she was the female star. Music lovers from around the world were swept away by the range of talent and the sense of history coming alive in these recordings. In 2000, Buena Vista Social Club released a self-titled record dedicated to her artistry. The album was enthusiastically received and led Omara to embark on tours with Rubén González and Ibrahim Ferrer that gave a whole new generation of fans the possibility of discovering such an illustrious trio on stage.
Now 91 years old, Portuondo has shown no sign of letting up. In 2019 she received the Latin Grammy Award for Musical Excellence, and the Medalla de Oro for Mérito de las Bellas Artes, from the cultural Ministry of Spain. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic came the online release of her album Mariposas. And this autumn she will open Oslo World as part of the aptly named “Life” world tour. This will be her final musical travel, of a career retrospective spanning eight decades.