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Ibrahim Ferrer

With the release of the Grammy-winning album Buena Vista Social Club and an acclaimed documentary of the same name, Cuban singer Ibrahim Ferrer vaulted from obscurity and poverty to international fame in the twilight of his life. He was born February 20, 1927, when his mother went into labor during a dance in the Cuban village of San Luis. By 12, Ferrer was an orphan, surviving by selling newspapers and produce on the street. He began his professional singing career at 14, joining his cousin's vocal group Los Jovenes del Son -- Ferrer later sang with acts including Conjunto Sorpresa, Maravilla de Beltrán, Beny Moré, and Electo Rosell's jazz group La Orquesta Chepín Chovén, with whom he scored the 1955 regional hit "El Platanal de Bartolo." He also sang with Pacho Alonso, whose Santiago-based group Los Bocucos relocated to Havana in 1959 in the wake of the Cuban Revolution -- Ferrer served with Alonso on and off for over three decades, during that time proving himself not only a master of the energetic, uptempo guarachas and sones but also a sublime bolero singer with an uncommon sense of space and silence.

The first months of the Revolution promised a new way of life and expanded musical horizons. In 1962, Los Bocucos even toured Europe on the invitation of the Communist Party, and while in Moscow Ferrer even met Soviet premier Nikita Khruschev. Days later, the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis conspired to strand the bandmembers in Moscow, where they remained until the blockade was lifted. Upon his return, Ferrer found Cuba devastated by poverty -- he and his wife Carida eventually moved their 11 children into the dirt-poor Havana district of Los Stiltos, where he resumed his performing career but also sought out odd jobs to keep the family afloat. With American tourists now forbidden to visit Cuba, there was little money in music, but Ferrer found the silver lining: "The music got better after the Revolution because we weren't playing for tourists so much," he once said. "There was a greater identification between the musicians and the audience, which was Cuban." Ferrer nevertheless retired from performing following a 1991 Chilean tour with Los Bocucos. He then lived on his meager state pension, shining shoes for additional money.

The Buena Vista Social Club project grew out of discussions between Cuban musician Juan de Marcos González and the virtuoso American guitarist Ry Cooder, an avowed fan of Latin-American music. In 1996 Cooder traveled to Cuba in search of additional musicians, and González recommended he hire Ferrer. The guitarist was blown away by the now 69-year-old singer, who agreed to come out of retirement to perform alongside the 89-year-old guitarist Compay Segundo and the 77-year-old pianist Rubén González. The resulting album followed in 1997, selling over four million copies and making global celebrities of its featured musicians -- its cover even featured Ferrer walking the streets of Havana in the flat golfer's cap that became his trademark. Filmmaker Wim Wenders followed Cooder back to Havana for a 1999 documentary also titled Buena Vista Social Club -- the gentle and elegant Ferrer emerged as its star, boosting sales of his Cooder-produced, self-titled 1999 debut solo LP, which sold close to two million copies. A follow-up, Buenos Hermanos, appeared in 2003. In the wake of a European tour, Ferrer died of multiple organ failure in Havana on August 6, 2005. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Orgulloso de mis raises, nuestro cantar, disfrutar de la vida atraves de la musica Cubana. Escuchar estos grades que nunca olvidamos atraves de las decadas y siglos. Mucha clase .
profundo hasta la fonda
Buena vista Social Club open the door to a lost culture!
Help me discover my roots. They dig deep indeed.
Fidel will rot in Hell for keeping this music from the Free World for so long. May God Bless this Man.
Natural musical legends, with NATURAL CLASS!!! God bless em all 4ever!!! :-D
MUCHAS GRACIAS A DIOS!!! for the man & his amazing gifts---for his brothers & sisters in song---& for the genius of Mr. Cooder & co.,without whom the world would have been deprived of these blessings. Paz a todos.
felixr629
Naci en guinnes escuchando la musica de Omara portuondo and Ibrahim ferrer
I so agree with you, Ava. What a beautiful person.
What a beautiful voice he had.
ejuszczyk800
Adoro a Ibrahim Ferrer; lo escuchaba desde que era pequeñita; le agradezco a mis padres que me hayan criado bajo la influencia de tan maravillosa música.
Que dicha de poder compartir la musica de Ibrahim Ferrer.
Que bella y nostalgica cancion felizmente interpretada por Ibrahim Ferrer
A real shame his music was kept quite for so long. Fidel you stink !!!!!!!
just get up and dance !
Que en Paz Descanses, pero que voz siga sonando por siempre Ibrahim Ferrer
This is the first time that I ever heard his music, and I just read his bio. What a humble man! What a talented man!
monyron
Una hermosa voz! Que lastima - to have been lost in Cuba for so long but still grateful for the time shared with the world outside! Gracias
All these Artist are so under rated! They deserve more recognition! !
Just wonderful... his voice, music rhythm jus brings such peace and balance at the end of the day or during a rough day... Thank you Papa
Celia Cruz was good and was bless by leaving Cuba ,but the singers from her era in Cuba, were GREAT wasted talent because of the communist party..Imagi n e if this artist were able to leave Cuba at dat time what a gift to the world that would have been.......
He Is Awesome
Love his story
timeless
Tremendo talento nacio en Cuba en 27 just rediscovered well by me im Dominican
lionhank82
Ibrahim Ferrer rocks when it comes to Cuban music.
Boliviana is a sweet mix of afro-cuban / andean rifs & rythmns...sw e e t n e s s and written in 1927 !
Ibrahim, has excellent voice, I like it. Congratulati o n s Mr. Ferrer you are amazing!
i love this music !!!! makes me happy i like that, rip .
lacubanalili a n a
As a Cubana born in Tacajo and living in Mayari, I can truly appreciate Ibrahim's fantastic music! It brings back some very vivid and wonderful memories for me. My grandparents and parents grew up with his and other fabulous musician's music. He truly is one of the very best! Bravo... Liliana Ray
birdnell98
There's nothing quite as moving as Cuban music. And, Ibrahim is the best!!
Soul touching music...
I <3 his voice. Thank you for giving us beautiful music to dance to.
Let's keep his legend living on!
you go man!
I still see your exuberant smile. You were just happy to be singing. What a wonderful gift you were!
See you on the other side Mr. Ferrer. The world will never be the same without you.
FERRER NUNCA COMO NUESTRA TIERRA PAPA....QUE SEPA EL MUNDO QUE NUESTRA TIERRA NO AHI DOS QUE VIVA CUBA...

FERRER NUESTRAS PLAYAS SON LAS BELLAS DEL MUNDO ...
SERIA POSIBLE CLONARLO POR QUE SU GENERO NO HAY DOS QUE VIVA EL CUBA...
had a good time listening to Ibrahim. I like it
bbbird54
What a voice! Love him!
brooksviewpr o 1
Ibrahim was the man! I love running to all his tunes
Beautiful, mature voice.
Let's not forget his vocals on Latin Simone (Que Pasa Contigo) by the Gorillaz. It's incredible to hear a modern band working alongside an artist with so much history.
great !!!!
What a man......... . .

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