By Helson Hernandez
HAVANA TIMES — Cuban musician Haydee Milanes will soon be launching her new album, dedicated to the work of one of the island’s most respected composers. “It is a great honor to be among those invited to participate at this prestigious festival,” said the young singer in her interview with HT.
HT: You have been away from the stage for quite some time.
Haydee Milanés: It’s been three years. I became pregnant and now I have a daughter I adore and who has made me very happy. I’ve also had another child, the new album with the songs of Martha Valdes. Just as my daughter grew inside my womb, this project grew inside my head. During the gestation process, I prepared the arrangements, studied Martha’s songs and made some preliminary recordings. I finished the album in January after a lot of work, away from the stage but whole immersed in the musical works of Martha Valdes.
HT: You’ve also sung pieces by Vicente Rojas and Decemer Bueno.
HM: I first heard Vicente Rojas’ songs as a child, sung by artists from the time like Mirtha Medina. I didn’t listen to them again until 2003, when I discovered an old LP record in my garage. I was fascinated by the songs. People have enjoyed listening to them again very much. It’s something like an homage to 80s Cuban pop music. I tried to maintain the original arrangements. I re-harmonized a few bits, like the piano, but the metals are true to the original conception. As for December Bueno, all of the songs in my first album are his. He was also the album’s producer. That project taught me a lot, it was very important at the beginning of my career.
HT: You are one of the first artists to hold a concert in support of the Young Filmmakers’ Festival.
HM: That was filmmaker Fernando Perez’ idea, in part to rescue the tradition of holding concerts at Havana’s Chaplin cinema held in the 60s, with the Grupo de Experimentacion Sonora (“Music Experimentation Group”) of the Cuban Film Art and Industry Institute (ICAIC). I had the privilege of being the first to hold a concert aimed at raising funds in support of the Young Filmmakers’ Festival. We filmed and recorded the concert, with the support of PM-Records. The CD and DVD will soon be released by the Colibri label.
HT: You were invited to the Leo Brouwer Chamber Music Festival, to be held from September 26 to October 12 this year.
HM: It is a great honor to be among those invited to participate at this prestigious festival. My participation has to do with the 80th anniversary of Cuban composer Martha Valdes. There will be a homage to her during the festival, and they’ve asked me to sing one of her pieces, because of the album with her songs I’ve just finished. Many renowned international figures will participate in the festival this year. I will be singing a number of new pieces by Martha and will perform with special guests for the occasion.
HT: What artists did you work with for this new album?
HM: I had the pleasure of working with great musicians who have impressive careers, such as Jorge Reyes and Enrique Pla (former Irakere members), Mirtha Batista, harp player for Cuba’s National Symphonic Orchestra, featured in one piece, Roberto García, who played the trumpet…in short, highly important artists. I tried to experiment with a variety of formats, in dependence of what each different song demanded.
HT: When will we be able to listen to this new album?
HM: I think it will definitely be released this year but I hope we’ll be able to release it before the Leo Brouwer Festival, but that’s beyond my control. I can tell you the album will include 14 pieces, all by Martha Valdes.
HT: How did you choose the songs?
HM: The way I see it, the pieces selected are the ones most representative of the work of the artist. I knew some of the songs beforehand, others were suggested to me by the author. When my father, Pablo Milanes, recording his feeling album which included songs by Martha Valdes, my mother was pregnant with me while he was recording the album. I got to know these songs through my father. He taught me to respect this author. This is the reason I think I was motivated to do this project. All of the arrangements in the album are mine.