HAVANA TIMES, Sept. 18 — We interviewed the Cuban singer Evelyn Garcia Marquez, who comes from a family of recognized musicians, among them her mother, the outstanding songstress Beatriz Marquez.
HT: One can see the musical influence of your family on you.
Evelyn Garcia Marquez: Well yes, from childhood I grew up at home that had a very strong musical atmosphere. My grandfather, the composer and performer Rene Marquez, always played his guitar in the afternoons. He would sit down and compose, and I would sit there beside him and listen, sometimes even singing along with him. I remember the very beautiful children’s songs that he taught me.
When I was very young, I also saw the takeoff of the musical career of my mother, Beatriz Marquez. Then too there was my brother, Michel Masa, who began studying the drums when he was little. Later he developed a successful career as a singer. The course of my family has without a doubt influenced me a great deal.
I had really wanted to be classical dancer but I wasn’t physically able to pursue that path. I began late in music, but I was able to catch up and I began piano studies at the Manuel Saumel School, finally graduating in that instrument at the National School of Art.
HT: How did you begin in the professional world?
EG: I didn’t think I’d go far in classical piano, that’s why I decided to sing. I was ultimately able to cut my first disk, titled “Evelyn.” It included my own songs because I’d also begun to compose. For this I relied on two important producers at that time: Julian Fernandez and Emilio Vega.
HT: And before being picked up by the recording company par excellence on the island, EGREM, what work marked your beginnings?
EG: Well, this disk was my beginning as a soloist, because it turned out to be a kind of summary of that stage, but prior to that I had already worked in a group of teenagers, “Las Chiquis,” made up of myself and other young women who went on television doing children’s songs. I also worked as a chorus singer in the recognized group of the Cuban son leader Adalberto Alvarez. Through that experience I was able to go abroad for the first time, participating in important salsa and Latin music festivals, which was an enriching experience for me.
HT: Has composition been a priority among your musical interests?
EG: Yes, I’ve always been interested in composing. In fact it’s one of my favorite hobbies. That’s why I try to focus my career in that direction, composing my own songs and being able to sing them. I try to define my distinction as an artist through composing my own songs.
HT: Before going abroad, where you remained for quite a while working, you had responsibilities not only in music but also in television here on the island. Tell us about that stage.
EG: The first program I participated in was called “A mitad de hoy,” whose introduction song I sang. It was a Sunday program directed by young people. Later, as a conductor, I was involved in another television program called “Encuentro,” directed by Ana Rabasa. Working there was a beautiful experience; this program invited artists who would come and explain what they were doing. I remember that I had the chance to interview popular artists from Spain who came to the island; among them was the group the “Formula Quinta” and other singers and groups from the “prodigious decade” of the 1980s.
HT: Colombia was a country that opened its doors to you in other professional horizons; then too there was the Dominican Republic, which was another no less important experience. What can you comment to us in this respect?
EG: It’s true; I first went to Colombia to co-produce a ballenato-pop disk, which at that time was what people were listening to there. Then other commitments kept cropping up that required me to stay longer. I worked at a very famous school — a very good school — that trained children to be musical comedians. I also gave piano classes there and worked with the children on their singing and preparing them for shows that were given at the end of year to packed theaters. From this I was invited to record with a number of Colombian artists on several CDs.
In the case of the Dominican Republic, there I became involved in a style that was completely unknown to me, what was called New Age. This effort wound up as a very interesting disk for my career. Another important experience was being able to work with Maridalia, a well-recognized singer from that Caribbean country who was a vocalist with the group 4-40, along with Juan Luis Guerra. In fact she recorded one of my compositions.
HT: “Complicity” was the disk that allowed you to do your first work in duets with well-known figures from Cuba.
EG: Yes, from that disk came one of the songs most broadcast in my career, “Que dar,” sung in tandem with singer-songwriter Polito Ibañez. This was my second CD with the Colibri label, where I included another duet with my mother. This disk was based on a stronger type of pop music, more for dancing in some cases. The producer was Eduardo Pineda, and the result was something with which I was very satisfied, and once again I returned as a composer because the songs that appeared were ones that I wrote.
HT: You have lived for many years outside of Cuba, with Spain having welcomed you in the latest stage of your life.
EG: Exactly, I’ve already spent 11 years in Spain. In that country I’ve devoted myself more to teaching. Of course I’ve also performed as a singer in some nightclubs, ones like the Tocororo, and La Cueva del Bolero.
HT: And now you’ve returned to Cuba?
EG: By chance I’m here on the island finishing what will be my next disk, which coincidently is titled “Y de regreso” (“And having returned”). It’s also the title track that I wrote and that’s being played on the air. I finished it last year though it still hasn’t been edited, but it’s there waiting in the wings. For this disk I asked Cuban singer-songwriter Julio Fowler to give me two of his songs. I liked his work from the very first time I heard it.
Now I’m thinking about what I’ll do next. In fact I recently participated with my mother in a great concert that she gave, so I’m thinking about giving one myself, because I owe it to the public.
HT: You’re one of the Cuban artists who have been able to give concerts in Miami representing the music of the island.
EG: Yes, for some time there has existed an opening that has been very profitable for Cuban culture, because in Miami there are especially avid fans of Cuban music. I was able to go on tour in the United States last September, where I performed in a place where other Cuban singers had previously played; it’s a place simply called “The Place.” I returned in December, this time as a guest with my mother in her performances in Miami, particularly in a very special one that was on New Year’s evening.