Carlos Puebla, singer of the people

Víctor Pérez-Galdós / Traduction By Gilda Gil

In the history of Cuban popular music there are notable artists who have been defined in a unique way.

That is the case of Carlos Puebla, who was recognized as El Cantor del Pueblo (Singer of the People) because for more than half a century of prolific creative activity, he expressed the achievements reached by the Cuban people after the revolutionary victory of January 1959.He was born on September 11, 1917 in Manzanillo, in the eastern part of the Cuban territory and from a very young age he learned to play the guitar  while living in the Mabay sugar mill.

He arrived in Havana in 1940, but had to return to Manzanillo because, as he stated then, hunger was overwhelming. Following other failed attempts, he was finally able to stay permanently in the Cuban capital in 1952

He then began to sing at the Bodeguita del Medio, a famous restaurant in Old Havana. After the triumph of the Revolution, Carlos Puebla consecrated his musical work to reflect the main significant events, as well as the achievements of the Cuban people.

He was one of the first creators who composed and spread a song dedicated to the revolutionary triumph and which he titled Se acabó la diversión (Fun is over).

The life and work of Carlos Puebla was associated with Cuban radio as his works were constantly broadcast by different stations. For years, Radio Liberación broadcast a half-hour program from Monday to Friday with Puebla’s  music .

There is also a particularly exciting moment in his work as an artist that links him to radio and demonstrates the importance of this means of coverage.

Carlos Puebla told me that while in Madrid one of the attendees at his concert brought a record of his and asked him to sign it. Puebla gladly did it. The man was very excited, nearly crying and the Cuban artist, surprised , asked him if he was not feeling well, to which the man replied the following.

“He told him that he had heard and learned the songs in that record when he was in prison. He was a Spanish communist who had been imprisoned during the Franco regime and the message of the Cuban Revolution had reached his cell through the creations of Carlos Puebla”.

That comrade was a faithful listener of Radio Habana Cuba. With the passing of time, the song Hasta Siempre, (dedicated to Che Guevara) by Carlos Puebla, became a universally spread musical creation.

Countless versions of this work have been made and it has been performed by artists and groups from Cuba as well as from different parts of the world.

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