Celina González: The Greatest Exponent of the Cuban Folk Music

Her talent was acclaimed in the most renowned scenes of the world. She is the folk Cuban goodness and the queen of the Folk music, Santa Barbara. Cuban people considered a symbol of our country, with its characteristic simplicity.

“Since I was a child I do not remember other thing that the beauty of the country, its flora and fauna and the country folk song. I was born in Matanzas, my father and my mother used to work in the country. I remembered it was a remote place; there were not schools and roads to go to the nearest town.

In other interviews you have told about your beginnings. Why?

First of all, my father liked the music, my brother used to play the lute and my sister Nena used to sing and play the lute too. My mother used to sing. We do not have places to go because the long distances. Fortunately, every Sunday my father prepared a family party with relatives, friends and neighbours. It became a costume in our neighbourhood. I began loving that kind of music.

Many people relate Celina González to the eastern provinces. What is the reason?

At that time my parents sold our house in search of new horizons and better life conditions. Firstly we settled in Jovellanos, also in Matanzas city and finally my family moved to Santiago de Cuba. I remembered when I made my first sonnet dedicated to my mother, I was about ten years old, and at that time I was still living in Santiago de Cuba. For that reason many people consider I am from eastern provinces and I love this place.

Did you meet Reutilio Domínguez in Santiago de Cuba?

Reutilio is from Guantánamo and at that time I was living in Santiago de Cuba. We meet in a familiar party and suddenly I got on well with him. After a year we married, we were very young. He was twenty and I was fifteen years old. Reutilio used to sing Mexican music. Since we meet my way of singing called his attention. We sang a beautiful song as a duet, Celina and Reutilio duet but without working as professionals. Our duet participated in popular and family parties.

Where did you begin to work as professionals?

At the end of 40’s we used to work in Cadena Oriental de Radio, a famous radio station in Santiago de Cuba. After many years the radio station was moved to Havana city at the beginnings of 50’s. Reutilio and I were hired by Soularí, one of the owners of Cadena Oriental de Radio. We had some performances in Atalaya campesina, a program that denounced the social problems of the government at that time. The script was written by Eleno Alvarez and the presenter was Antonio Pera. Justo Lamas joined us playing the lute. There was a dialogue between two peasants and it was initially interpretated by Salvador Wood and Wilfredo Rodríguez, later Antonio Pera participated as an actor.

Do you remember any other experience in Cadena Oriental de Radio?

Yes, we also worked in program at5.30 am. I had to improvise decimas to congratulate people in their birthdays and Reutilio played the guitar. We had other program in the afternoon, about 3 o’clock named La Santiaguera. The program was very likely to Suceso de hoy, broadcasted by CMQ radio station. The script was also written by Eleno Alvarez.

What can you tell us about her work as a Folk poet? Was Reutilio a poet too?

Reutilio was a composer but not a Folk poet at all, even he sang the decimas the compositions were mine. He was the coauthor, played the guitar and he was also good at composing songs. At the beginnings of Celina and Reutilio duet, Cadena Oriental de Radio covered the transmissions all over the country with a future scope. Many international personalities such as: Pedro Vargas, Tito Guizar, Juan Arvizu, Libertad Lamarque among others.

Celina and Reutilio are the authors of many themes. When was created “Yo soy el punto cubano”?

This song was created in 1952, at that time many Folk music programs disappeared. Reutilio suggested me to make a song for giving dignity and respect Cuban Folk music.

There is a peculiar detail; the disco was filled with this song. In Latin America, Japan and the United States this is the only theme that makes people stand up.

Reutilio passed away in 1972 and we worked live in RHC Cadena Azul, CMQ, Radio Cadena Habana, Unión Radio and Radio Progreso. Furthermore, our music was also disseminated in all the radio stations of our country. The duet made many records; we worked in Channel 2 of Telemundo. At the beginnings of Palmas y Cañas program we made our incursions with El Indio Naborí, Adolfo Alfonso and Justo Vega. The duet went to New York in 1952 with Benny Moré and his band. In 1958 we joined Barbarito Diez and in 1960 the duet also visited Dominican Republic.

Did Celina and Reutilio duet make incursions in the movie?

We participated in two movies: Bella la salvaje and El rincón criollo. I admit that I love the movie but I did not how to work in it.

Do you have any anecdote?

Yes, it seems a very funny anecdote nowadays but at that time was terrible moment for us. Reutilio and I had to sing above a mare, but the animal was used for racing and the trainer said: Do not touch the animal. Reutilio forgot the advice and the mare began running, it was not so funny at that moment.

When did you begin to sing with Lázaro Reutilio?

In 1981, our first presentation was in Colombia. In 1989 we had a tour in the most important cities of England, London was the first one. I was very nervous; there was other language and costumes. From that moment I have visited Mexico, Argentina, France, Greece and Sweden.

By the way, in Sweden I had the opportunity to open the festival Divas of the World. We performed twenty four songs. The duet had a favourable reception.

What about her other sons?

I have five sons, fifteen grandsons and twelve great grandsons. Thanks to the Cuban Revolution my sons could study. Lazaro Reutilio is my fourth son and Francisco Javier is the youngest and now he is my manager. I am very pride of being a Cuban and revolutionary women.

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