Cuban Wonder

by

comment

Fred McDowell, John Hurt and Bukka White all became better known later in life than they had been at any time previously. When they were rediscovered, after years of farming and/or working in rough-hewn, blue-collar surroundings, their art connected a more modern age with part of its past.

The same thing has happened in Cuba of late. Francisco Repilado, better known as Compay Segundo, had a music career during the 1940s when he was singing with Nico Saquito, the Quarteto Hatuey and his own duo, Los Compadres. He then spent a few decades in a less visible position, rolling cigars in a factory and occasionally playing in local clubs.

At 90 years old, Segundo jumped onto the international stage in a big way with his appearance on Ry Cooder's Buena Vista Social Club project last year. After his role in making that album such a critical success, Segundo brings his remarkably powerful vocals to a project that hails back to the early, glory days of son, when Abelardo Barroso was king of the Sexteto Habañero.

Lo Mejor de la Vida is an astoundingly laid-back work of art that flexes the various rhythms played by Segundo -- and his unique seven-string guitar -- and a cast of Cuban luminaries. He picks his tunes from history, covering songs by Beny Moré and Ernesto Lecuona, but Segundo is an amazingly flexible writer as well. Much of his material has that classic Cuban string band feel to it, but "Juliancito," a collaboration between Segundo and flamenco guitarist Lorenzo Hierrezuelo, hints at the singer's willingness to blend genres if the magic is there.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.