Musical Bridge from Cuba*
HAVANA TIMES — Lilliana Hector is part of a new generation of Cuban troubadours who are now, based on their own merit, part of the island’s musical scene. In her still budding career as a singer-songwriter of the songs that she sings, what makes her stand out is the beauty and depth of her lyrics.
Musically self-taught — her formal training is in law — she began composing her first songs at the age of 22 – in 2006. Shortly after that she gave her first concert at a place called “Verdadero Complot” (The True Conspiracy) in the company of musicians that included Adrian Berazain and Mauricio Figueral.
After winning an award in the “Una cancion para Frida y Diego” competition in Mexico City, along with fellow troubadour Ariel Diaz, the two songwriters decided to start a group together.
Lilliana and Ariel have recorded two CDs, Ven a mi Cuba and Colores, which received awards and nominations in major Cuban recording festivals. From 2007 to 2011 they toured in Mexico, Italy, Argentina, South Korea and Corsica (France).
In addition to her work with singer Ariel Diaz, Lilliana has continued to perform solo concerts. One of them was recorded to produce her CD Tengo.
These are the lyrics to one song on that CD,
“Siempre cantando” (Always Singing):
A kick in the soul and back on the road. / A feverish look that put things in perspective and it all makes sense.
I would like for roses to grow where I walk / that salty words return to the desert itself, / so that the accidental flight over the cliff / always ends up under the wing of a friend.
But step on me from time to time, / kill your time with me / and don’t want me or understand me either. / And don’t forget my indifference.
I would like for these birds not to escape from me, / for every spirit to jump out from where they’re hiding / for my chest to open and for you to kiss my cry, / for you to pull out half my soul from its place.
And for you to understand me occasionally, / that you kill your time with me, / and that you love me, yes, that you love me so much, / but don’t forget my faults.
Because I’m a flying bird, / because I’m a lying cat, / but I want to be with you, / always singing, always living.
I want to be with you forever, / always singing, always living
Is it an optimistic song? A declaration of love? A re-dimensioning of dreams by an ordinary person?
Probably all these ideas (and others) were fluttering in the chest of Lilliana Hector, with her flight ending in those simple and beautiful words that I first heard from her in a duet with Ariel.
As you can see, the text itself would stand up as a poem. There are forceful images (I would like “for my chest to open and for you to kiss my cry”) alternating with some that are more subtle (“because I’m a flying bird, because I’m a lying cat”) and others expressing their ideas in a direct sense (“that you understand me from time to time”).
All of them are aimed toward communication, but also at beauty. Love and singing are central concepts in these words. Love as the salvation of a soul, which is once again kicked out to the road.
This is a song that is an action consistent with the spirit of optimism that pervades when people are in love. To sing is a basic verb. Her occupation, as a singer, is an allegory of joy. But beware: “I want you to love me, yes, for you to love me so much, / but not forget my faults” asks by the lyrical subject, because she recognizes truth as a fundamental need in all human relationships.
She asks for other things too, qualities such as human ideals, magic, poetry, spontaneous beauty not given in the perfection of the world, but by the goodness in the hearts of people.
She calls for inspiration and to discover what lies behind what’s apparent. She knows whoever dedicates their work to others will harvest the envy of a few, which is why she also makes a request of her enemies and asks for her to be important to them.
To the values of the composition are added the performing talent of this troubadour who, with her musical partner, go around this town singing…always singing.
(*) A Musical Bridge from Cuba: This is an effort to find new bridges that promote communication between peoples of the diverse regions of the planet. I will be using simple narration in a series of articles to connect with those who are interested in the messages transmitted by Cuban songs, which due to their limited commercial potential and the difficulties posed by their translation, languish in a state of communicational stagnation – despite their being true jewels of Cuban culture.