Preventing musical memory from being lost

Fortunately, in all radio stations, the radio program schedules are dedicated to recreate periods of time, rhythms, songwriters and singers, who established guidelines in the musical field of Cuba and other parts of the world. Among the pioneers in this type of programs, our recognition goes to Luis Grau Jover, who passed away on June 28th, 1981. One of his programs was “For you a memento of yesterday” (”Para usted un recuerdo de ayer”) , aired by Radio Popular in the 60’s using records which Grau Jover termed as old, dusty, worn-out, emitting a funny ra, ra, ra uyuy noise!, but, Gosh, how many memories they bring to one’s mind!. In the 70’s, while working in Radio Rebelde, he broadcasted “Recuerdos del ayer (Oldies)”. In this radio broadcasting chain, he joined Aurelio Rodriguez Valdes and created, in the same period of time, the program “Danzones” and La Peña de Radio Rebelde (Radio Rebelde’s club of supporters).

This has brought back to my mind ”Cadena musical del recuerdo”, a program which I founded in Radio Cadena Agramonte at that time and which is still being aired. To that one-hour slot, broadcasted on Saturday and Sunday, I owe having acquired an in-depth knowledge of the songs that moved different periods of time and their main performers.

On February 6, 1966 Eduardo Rosillo began airing on Radio Progreso “Yesterday’s music” on Fridays from four to six pm, and on Sundays from nine to eleven in the morning, until 1990, when it was broadcasted only on Sundays from eight to ten in the morning, but totally live.

At that very time, there was a program that recreated the melodious and well-pitched voice of Manolo Ribeiro to bring to our homes, every Saturday and Sunday, at eleven o’clock at night, “A performer and a memory”, exquisitely selected by a teacher of all: Manuel Villar. This program, along with Radio Liberation, disappeared in March 1984.

But Manuel Villar persevered and aired the program “Memories” in Radio Rebelde, aiming to turn the Sunday dawn, after six in the morning, into an enjoyable time for us. Recreating the musical memory while making us get in touch with the best staff at all times is the aim of this time slot. And this goal has been accomplished. But “Memories” is not over yet and we face a dilemma. At eight o’clock, in the morning, Eduardo Rosillo is on the air in Radio Progreso with “Yesterday’s music” to give a very fresh, live program, many times with guest composers and performers. Both programs have accumulated the largest audiences on Sunday in the last fifteen years.

Five hours, each Sunday, were allotted by the national radio broadcasting system to support the daily presence and the large-scale widespread dissemination of the eternal values of our music.  So that Longina can continue  taking a stroll  in the Afternoon through the Tropical Path  and so that her  mysterious language Like the cooing sound of  the palm trees would  not fall into Oblivion without telling to her beloved one Love me much because You’re in my heart,  I am your Lovely damsel, your Loving Peasant Woman (Amorosa Guajira) without you I can not be happy and my Thinking, which has remained With you in the distance (Contigo en la distancia), yearns only for the Much-awaited (Añorado) encounter to pick the  Rose from France (Rosa de Francia) to which You made me get accustomed  (Tu me acostumbraste) and Twenty Years After, We stop our lives and leaning against The trunk of a tree (En el tronco de unárbol) remember the day you told me If only you could love me (Si me pudieras querer) and with my reply  You are the glory (La Gloria eres tú) we  sealed, by pressing our lips  together, the Pledge of love.

How sweet the kiss was
With which our mouth
Kindled, out of love,
That mouth in bloom.

Or if only not to ever get tired of listening to the unique timbre of Rita while hawking peanuts to the music by Moises Simons, or of listening to Antonio Machin taking on a world tour the Two gardenias (Dos gardenias) he handed Isolina Carrillo. Or if only  Miguelito Valdes O to give us back the songs that raised him to the heights of popularity, Bruce maniguá and Babalu, by Arsenio Rodriguez and Margarita Lecuona. So that Cuba’s best median voice, Miguel Angel Ortiz, caress our ears or so that the typical Cuban humorism can keep alive Creole the congenial image of the Guayabero, the satirical criticism of Nico Saquito, the African flavor of Merceditas Valdes, the unique danzonete of Paulina Alvarez and the song>> guaguancoseada>> Celeste Mendoza, among so many songs and singers, a heritage of the best of the national staff and, therefore, of eternal durability.

Alongside these people and their work, the presence of authors, performers and songs of the international scene that deserved to be brought to the present  to trigger remembrances in the elderly , and to sow, in the most recent generations, the seeds of the everlasting values of the best musical sound of the radio broadcasting system of all times.

It is a must to have the presence of  Mexican authors such as  Agustin Lara, Alvaro Carrillo, Gonzalo Curiel, María Greever, Alfonso Esparza Oteo, Barcelata Lorenzo; the Puerto Ricans Rafael Hernandez and Pedro Flores, or the Peruvian Chabuca Granda … They were joined by the voices Mexican Juan Arvizu, the tenor of the Americas, Pedro Vargas, Toña la Negra, Maria Luisa Landin, Chucho Martinez Gil and Fernando Fernandez, the Bride of America, Argentina’s Libertad Lamarque, also of Argentina Hugo del Carril and Alberto Gómez, Colombia’s Carlos Ramirez, the Spanish Conchita Piquer, Lola Flores, El Niño de Utrera, Joselito, Sarita Montiel, the Chilean duo Lucho Gatica and Sonya and Miriam, the Puerto Rican Bobby Capó and Daniel Santos. And groups like Los Chavales de España (The kids from Spain), the Churumbeles, Los Xeys, the Platters … among the most prominent voices that left imprint in the field of radio broadcasting from the thirties to the fifties.
Other programs complemented the spectrum. They were dedicated to recreating foreign forms and rhythms deeply rooted in the people of Cuba: the so-called Mexican folklore programs that have retained a maximum audience in the vast majority of provincial and municipal radio stations, mainly from central and eastern regions. Hence, authors such as Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Chucho Monje, Abundio Martinez, Victor Cordero … are still present in the voices of Tito Guizar, Jorge Negrete, Pedro Infante, Lola Beltran, Amalia Mendoza, Miguel Aceves Mejia, among the most valuable ones of Mexico’s musical roots.

Also from Argentina, one day, the voice of Carlos Gardel reached us and also became, in Cuba, a mythical figure of the popular music. The tango clubs of supporters, existing in many cities, have made possible the emergence of radio programs, broadcasted even from the headquarters of those clubs. A most outstanding place has won the program “Home of Tango”, which emerged in the early seventies and that has been kept for over twenty years in the COCO radio station by Maria Luisa Mac Beath, known in the art environment as The Tango Woman. In 1998 she was honored in Argentina for her work defending the Gold Gardel Award (Premio Gardel de Oro). The announcers of this program, until about 1980, were Antonio Garcia, who always remained involved in such radio programs devoted to this musical genre in other national radio chains, and the announcer José Miguel Jiménez, who had previously worked in Radio Popular. In a conversation with Juan Gaspar, the broadcaster of the program Popular Discotheque (Discoteca Popular) of the Radio Progreso broadcasting station, he said that when he began working in the COCO radio station in 1973 and until 1980, the programs “Home of Tango” and “Mexican Melodies’, both having a one-hour slot, were produced by Jose Miguel Jimenez, who also was the announcer  until his death, when  Antonio Garcia took over again this work until 1980, the date on which this task was handed over to María Louisa. In weighing her values he said “I esteem and respect her very much because she was the first person that saw in me possibilities to become an announcer” 9

The language of music accompanied the childhood of several generations. Who does not remember The little frog, The Vinegar kitty, Give me your hand…? These are songs by Teresita Fernandez, the close friend, the teacher who sings Or who does not remember The Scarecrow, The little pencil or Play with me, granny,  written Olga Navarro, a poet whose romantic songs, also recreated, among others, the voices of Elena, Omara and Moraima.

Although it was not my intention to address the behavior of the dissemination of music in this decade – yet unfinished twenty-first century, my memory can not ignore the emotion I felt when I participated in the presentation of an album whose title, Rendezvous with Angels (Cita con Angeles), became the name one of the most broadcasted songs of all the radio stations of the country since its release. That day in November 2003 was an honor to hear the poet, essayist and leading figure of the culture, Roberto Fernandez Retamar, who at the end of his words of praise said: “We are undoubtedly in the presence of one of the great love poets, who also one day, shuddering as I have said, in this room said that Casa de las Américas (House of the Americas) was the womb of the New Trova (or New Song Movement). Well, Silvio Rodriguez is both the head and heart of the New Trova.

And now, though not driven by the fact that the chapter is drawing to a close, I am prompted to say a few words of recognition about the work of the accompanying orchestras. These orchestras, starting from the Orquesta Mil Diez (Ten Thousand Orchestra), through the CMQ up to the Radio and Television Orchestra, have always been conducted by the great masters, such as Enrique Gonzalez Mantica, Roberto Valdes Arnau, Adolfo Guzman, Felix Guerrero and Rafael Somavilla until Mario Romeo, Jose Ramon Urbay, Patterson and Reynaldo Miguel Montesinos, Alfredo Perez Perez, among others.

Furthermore, I have not attempted, because it would be impossible, to show all the songwriters and singers that have added prestige to the airwaves in recent years. I have just intended, mainly, to present a sample of the most representative songs that have identified the sound of the Cuban radio in the last four decades of the twentieth century.

Nonetheless, I still have the bitter taste of dissatisfaction, the pain of a memory unable to record every single moment. Therefore, I would like to extend my sincere apologies to the personalities that were not reflected, and that, of course, do not require to be mentioned I order to find their due recognition by way of the affection and respect that society has accorded them.



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