A Musical Bridge from Cuba*
HAVANA TIMES — Born in Cuba’s province of Santa Clara in 1972, Roly Berrio is an outstanding folk musician who broke into the music world in the 90s. In 1992, he founded the trio Enserie with musicians Levis Aleaga and Raul Cabrera, a band that would become a nationwide project under the Hermanos Saiz Association.
He has been a solo performer since 2003, staging concerts in such venues as the Amadeo Roldan Theater, the Casa de las Americas, the Puntal Alto y a Guitarra Limpia (“High Ceiling and Pure Guitar”) space of the Pablo de la Torriente Brau Cultural Center and the Spanish-American Cultural Center.
He has performed in Spain, Argentina, Guatemala, Mexico and Colombia and has shared the stage with renowned Cuban folk musicians.
Roly is one of the founders of the cultural gathering La Trovuntivitis (“Folkmusivitis”), held at the well-known cultural center El Mejunje, in his native Santa Clara. He has acted in plays and written part of the score for the Cuban film Havana Blues.
They Simply Come Out
They simply come out of my songs / before lies do. / From my eyes, living songs / come out and later die.
The eyes had left / the cheeks covered in salt; / today, with a down-turned face / they bring drops of melody.
I suffer, / I die from singing: / my life is lost, / for even my songs / flee from the wounds.
My organs have changed / into songs; / they found out my blood / flowed out in search of lost loves.
They simply come out of my songs / before the lies / with which I make you laugh. / And I lean close to a light / that’s all yours, / and only a little bit mine.
The lyrics of this song stand out because of their simplicity. It is a very unpretentious and highly expressive song. With very few words, it manages to weave together a personal reflection on the subject of creation, were factors such as human and artistic sensibility, pain (which is always rooted in one’s mundane existence) and the devotion of the artist (which involves spiritual sacrifice) come into play.
The artist speaks to us of an art committed to truth, to the point of involving his very vital organs in the process and at the emotional cost that such a commitment entails. He speaks of the sensation of recognizing he is foolish sacrificing for the happiness of others, calling his art a “a light that is all yours, and only a little bit mine.”
They Simply Come Out strikes me as a kind of brief manifesto, a calling card outlining the ethical and aesthetic presuppositions of this sensible, lucid and penetrating artist, who does not hesitate to sing to beauty while contemplating life’s ugly episodes.
Such audacity has earned Berrio the respect of his peers and the admiration of a folk-music-loving public, which is not as broad as it is loyal and discerning.
Roly Berrio jams every third Sunday of the month at the Museo de Artes Decorativas in Havana. To confirm the time call 832-0924.
(*) 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.