The Cuban singer-songwriter Pablo Milanés passed away this Monday at the age of 77 in Madrid. The artist was one of the most recognized voices on the song. He is the founding singer-songwriter of the ICAIC Sound Experimentation Group and the Nueva Trova movement together with Silvio Rodríguez and Noel Nicola.
On November 13, Pablo Milanés was hospitalized in Madrid, where he had lived since 2017 and was receiving medical treatment for the oncohematological disease that he suffered from a few years ago and which worsened in recent months.
His last performance in Havana was at a concert in the Ciudad Deportiva, in which hundreds of Cubans shared fragments of several of the songs he chose for that night.
Who was Pablo Milanes?
Pablo Milanés was born in Bayamo, Oriente province, present-day Granma province, Cuba. He studied music at the Havana Municipal Conservatory. In his early days he was greatly influenced by traditional Cuban music and by feeling (‘sentiment’, in English).
The feeling is a musical style that began in Cuba in the 1940s and represented a new way of approaching the song, where the feeling defined the interpretation and was influenced by the American currents of romantic song and jazz.
The feeling was accompanied by a guitar, in the style of the old troubadours but enriched by jazz harmonizations. This is how this new form of communication or “feeling” with the public was established.
The singer in group and soloist
It should be noted that in 1964, Milanés joined the Los Bucaneros quartet as an interpreter, with whom he collaborated on his first works. He also tried his luck as an occasional soloist, thus diversifying his experiences that would later lead him to solo work.
In 1965, Milanés published Mis 22 años, considered by many to be the link between feeling and Nueva Trova Cubana, including new musical and vocal elements that would be precursors of the Cuban music that would come later.
Around 1966 Milanés was sent by the authorities to a forced labor camp of the Military Unit for Production Assistance (UMAP) in the Camagüey area, in the center of the island.
After fleeing to Havana to denounce the injustices committed in what in 2015 he called “a Stalinist concentration camp,” he was imprisoned for two months in La Cabaña and then sent to a punishment camp, where he remained until the dissolution of the UMAP. at the end of 1967. In an interview in 2015, Milanés commented that he still hopes that the Cuban government will apologize for what he suffered at that time.
The best music of Pablo Milanés
Among other details, an important album in the life of Pablo Milanés was the titled Querido Pablo, a tribute album recorded with some of his great friends, and in which people such as Víctor Manuel and Ana Belén, Luis Eduardo Aute and Mercedes Sosa, among many others.
This album had a sequel in 2002, which bore the title of Pablo Querido. Seventeen years later, a good handful of artists meet again to sing to the sound of Pablo Milanés.
On this occasion, in addition to “classic” friends of Milanés, artists of new pop music joined, such as Fher (the singer of the Mexican rock group Maná), Marco Antonio Muñiz or Armando Manzanero.6 He participated in the documentary Van Van, began the party (2001).
It should be noted that in 2005 he composed a part of the soundtrack of the film Siempre Habana directed by Ángel Peláez. Among her many songs, the following are especially famous: Yolanda, I stay, I love this island and The brief space in which you are not, To live and How much I won, how much I lost.
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