Singing my way across Cuba

I can sing. I’m not a rock star – but I’m decent enough to play around.

I’ve made friends with a number of GGG musicians in Cuba. Once I let on that I know some Cuban songs, we get to singing, and it’s all downhill from there! Whenever they see me coming, they know I’ll join them for a song or two.

This helps make the encounter more personal for my travelers – and for the Cubans too. I recently saw some musician friends in Havana and said, “Oh, and say hi to Lourdes for me! Do you think she remembers me?” They looked at me like I was an idiot. “Mateo, everyone remembers you. You sing with us. You’re unforgettable.”

I’ve thought about why this means so much to them – beyond the power of music itself – and I have a couple ideas. An occupational hazard of tourism is, things can start to feel routine and boring… so it’s probably a big deal when someone like me comes along and blows up the routine. Also, musicians seem really pleased when they find out I’ve learned Cuban songs – or have translated some of them into English! Not everyone is so invested as that. And last but not least, I show them love – admiring their work, chatting with them, tipping generously, and helping my travelers get to know them a little.

I suspect a secondary effect of all this is, my travelers feel more connected with the musicians, and consequently buy more CDs to remember our time with them. The bands must appreciate that too.

Anyways, here’s a couple versions of my latest favorite song, Como Fue. First I’m with the band Son Havana Club in Trinidad; and then with Consequencia in Havana. At some point I need to get a recording of Consequencia without me too, so y’all can see how great their lead singer is! Anyways, I’m really grateful to both groups for letting me guest star, and to one of my travelers for the recordings:

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