The Return of an Epoch

Alfredo Fernandez

Ivette Cepeda

Attending the concert of singer Ivette Cepeda on Thursday, December 30, was to return to another time.  We knew this thanks to the voice of a woman who — without being promoted in the Cuban media — packed Havana’s Mella Theater.

In a concert with a prismatic repertoire, the singer performed marvelously before an audience that included movie actors Deysi Granado and Alberto Pujols, as well as pianist Frank Fernandez and other renowned Cuban artists.

Cepeda’s voice returned us suddenly to some Havana night in the 1950s, when this was a city teeming with excellent singers and there were as many cabarets as in New York or Paris – without exaggerating.

La Lupe, Freddy, Las de Aida, Blanca Rosa Gil and others used to be the delight of regulars.  And while that element of Havana has disappeared (though it’s also collected in the work of writer Guillermo Goatherd Infante), today it seems to be returning in the most unsuspected way: through a voice.

Somehow Ivette Cepeda summed up all the singers of an age.  Our astonishment was discovering she is a neophyte with regard to music since she was a school teacher for seventeen years.

La Lupe, Freddy, Elena Burke…, they can rest in peace after having been given the mass they truly deserved: a surging voice that leaves no room for doubt about her ability to sing boleros, trova or son.

Cuba has always been a country of great singers, which was clearly confirmed when the invitation from Ivette Cepeda allowed us to return to the nights of cabaret.  The singer gave us back that touch of Cuban culture that had fallen from favor over fifty years.

Alfredo Fernandez

Alfredo Fernandez: I didn't really leave Cuba, it's impossible to leave somewhere that you've never been. After gravitating for 37 years on that strange island, I managed to touch firm ground, but only to confirm that I hadn't reached anywhere. Perhaps I will never belong anywhere. Now I'm living in Ecuador, but please, don't believe me when I say where I am, better to find me in "the Cuba of my dreams.



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