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10 Most Popular Cuban Singers

Part of the long history of Cuba is their music, which has been a significant aspect of their culture and traditions.

In fact, the ancestors have used music in different gatherings and rituals hundreds of years ago.

However, when the island had been inhabited by the Spanish in the middle of the 16th century, they regulated music in order to take control of the island and Catholic conversion.

Now, if you love Cuban music, you might also be interested to know about the “most popular Cuban singers,” and that’s exactly what we’re going to reveal in the following list.

If you’re ready, let’s begin.

 

Gloria Estefan

There is no question that this singer is the most popular among all Cuban singers, with no bias; in fact, did you know that her biography is available in 60 languages?

That’s a fact, and there’s more.

Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García, who’s born on September 1, 1957, is a famous and well-loved Cuban singer, businesswoman, and actress.

Estefan, who has a distinct contralto voice, started working as Miami Latin Boys’ lead singer; however, it was in 1985 when she earned worldwide fame with her massive hit “Conga.” 

Conga, which is listed as the “11th greatest Latin pop song of all time” by Rolling Stone, is her signature and most popular song, which also paved the way for her to enter and gain recognition in the international music market.

This song also led her group to win 1986’s “15th Tokyo Annual Music Festival.”

Estefan, nevertheless, was the Latin artist that opened the doors to the international music scene for other singers and artists, such as Selena, Ricky Martin, Shakira, and more.

Her record exceeded 75 million worldwide, and this made her a part of the world’s bestselling female singers of all time.

Billboard also listed the “Queen of Latin Pop ” as the 3rd most successful Latina as well as the 23rd greatest Latin Artist of all time.

 

Pérez Prado

Often included in the list of the most famous Cuban singers is Prado, who was born on December 11, 1916 but died on September 14, 1989.

The artist was a versatile artist, who was also a pianist, bandleader, arranger, and composer; he was the one who made mambo popular in the 1950s.

His big band adaptation of the danzón-mambo proved to be a worldwide success with hits such as “Mambo No. 5”, earning him the nickname “King of the Mambo”.

Topping both the UK and US charts was Prado and his orchestra in 1955 for their Louiguy’s “Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White)” mambo cover.

The singer also made multiple, short appearances in movies that were in the Rumberas genre, while being also featured in films, like “La Dolce Vita.”

The artist started as an arranger and pianist for the Sonora Matancera, which was a dance ensemble that originated from Matanzas, his hometown.

But later, he founded his group and recorded several recordings in 1946 in Havana, and this included “Trompetiana.”

 

Celia Cruz

With a biography translated into 43 languages, Cruz was one of the most popular Latin artists of the 20th century.

The Cuban-American singer was one of the most loved in the 20th century, and she’s also one of the most known guaracha singers in her time.

In fact, she’s also considered the “La Guarachera de Cuba” and also the “Queen of Salsa” internationally because of her significant contributions in Latin music in America.

She was a lead vocalist to Sonora Matancera, a group that lasted for 15 years; she also mastered music styles, such as rumba, guaracha, son and bolero, and rumba as well as recorded different singles.

During the latter parts of her career, she continued releasing songs, including “La negra tiene tumbao” and “La Vida es un Carnaval.”

For her legacy in music, she has a total of 37 studio albums and different collaborations and lives albums.

The singer was also awarded three Latin Grammys and two Grammys and had also appeared in TV shows and movies.

Finally, “¡Azúcar!” That means sugar in English has become one of the symbols of salsa.

 

Daymé Arocena

In 2015, she’s listed and recognized by National Public Radio in the list of “50 Favorite Albums 2015” for her album.

One of the radio’s hosts, Felix Contreras, referred to her as a cross between two greats Aretha Franklin and Celia Cruz, and said that she deserves to be alongside these two singers.

She started young at eight, and when she turned 14, she became the lead vocalist of Los Primos.

The artist is also called a musical prodigy and is a versatile artist that is also a song arranger, composer, bandleader, and singer.

Nevertheless, the singer is also the perfect example of an artist with intense vocals and musical versatility.

 

Yilian Cañizares

The singer and violinist, who is also well-known for pushing Cuban jazz boundaries, is admired for her vocals that are regarded as a classic.

She’s born in Havana, the same place where she studied and learned violin.

However, she needed to move to Venezuela to study at the “Academia Latinoamericana de violín” in 1997.

But aside from her classical background, she also got interested in jazz; thus, she worked hard and developed her jazz singing skills.

In 2013, she was considered as a rising star (Le Nouvel Observateur, French Weekly), while her album “Invocación” was selected by Les Inrockuptibles, a French magazine, in the 2015’s top 10 South America albums.

The artist was also nominated as the Best Artist/Album (2021) of the Songlines Music Awards for her album  “Erzulie,” which features guests, like Michael League for double bass and Christian Scott for trumpet.

 

Ibrahim Ferrer

With a biography that has been translated into 36 different languages, Ferrer was a Cuban singer that been known to play with Los Bocucos for almost 40 years.

He left a legacy for his fans and other musicians around the world.

The Cuban singer also performed with Mario Patterson, Chepín y su Orquesta Oriental, and Conjunto Sorpresa.

He retired in 1991 but got back to recording in the studio with the Buena Vista Social Club and Afro-Cuban All-Stars (March 1996).

Ferrer also toured the world with revival groups as well as recorded different albums before his passing in 2005.

 

Omara Portuondo

Both a Cuban dancer and singer, Omara Portuondo was born on October 29, 1930 and was one of the founders of “Cuarteto d’Aida,” a popular vocal group.

Throughout her career, she has also collaborated with significant musicians in Cuba, and the list includes Chucho Valdés, Juanito Márquez, and Julio Gutiérrez.

Even if the singer was known for boleros, she’s also performed and recorded in different music styles, including son Cubano and jazz.

She’s also a part of the Buena Vista Social Club project, and this allowed her to tour and record multiple albums.

The singer also won “Best Contemporary Tropical Album” (Latin Grammys) in 2009, as well as the prestigious “Lifetime Achievement Award” (Latin Grammy, 2019); she also received three different nominations (Grammys).

 

Rita Marley

She’s one of the top 10 most popular Cuban singers, whose biography is in 24 languages.

Born Alpharita Constantia Marley, Rita Marley was a Jamaican singer who was also Bob Marley’s widow.

Rita Marley, who was a member of “I Threes,” was recognized as backup vocals for ‘Bob Marley and the Wailers.’

She also forged an extraordinary singing career as a solo artist.

Also referred to as the “Queen of Reggae,” Marley blessed the world with her songs.

A little tidbit about her:  She adopted 35 children in Ethiopia, while working hard to influence their lives positively.  

 

Silvio Rodríguez

Nueva Trova’s movement leader is Silvio Rodriguez, who shouldn’t be left out when highlighting the most popular of all Cuban singers.

For his fans, Rodriguez is regarded as one of the greatest singer-songwriters in Latin America and the best folk singer in Cuba.

A few of his songs, including “Vamos a andar,” “Sueño con Serpientes,” “Unicornio,” “Ojalá,” and “La maza” all become iconic in Latin American music.

His songs combine idealism, eroticism, romanticism, revolutionary politics, and existentialism.

 

Pablo Milanés

One of the founders of Cuba nuvea trova, Pablo Milanés Arias is not just a singer-songwriter but also a guitar player.

Called by his fans Pablito, he studied at the most prestigious school in Cuba, Conservatorio Municipal de La Habana.

He was one of the nueva trova popular-song movement’s important figures (1960s).

The musicians in this collective aimed at reconfiguring the country’s music for the modern, new, and post-revolutionary Cuban society.

Nevertheless, this man is one of the highly-regarded songwriters and musicians of the late 20th century; he also released multiple records and is regarded as one of the most significant musicians that’s able to link modern and classical music.

Do you think we missed another popular Cuban singer in the list? Tell us in the comments.

Did you like this article?  Spread the word and share it among friends who also love Cuban music today!

 

References

  1.     https://www.allmusic.com/artist/pablo-milan%C3%A9s-mn0000006855/biography
  2.     https://pantheon.world/profile/occupation/singer/country/cuba
  3.     https://www.theteenmagazine.com/11-cuban-musicians-to-celebrate-the-end-of-2020
  4.     https://www.songlines.co.uk/features/essential-10/the-10-essential-cuban-female-singers

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