Cuban singer-songwriter Pablo Milanés is dead

Pablito is dead. The nickname was long too small for Pablo Milanés, a singer-songwriter a hero of the Cuban Revolution and, in later years, one of its most prominent critics. He started in the tradition of the “filín” singers who modernized the romantic songs of the bolero.

Before the revolution triumphed in 1959, he belonged to the bohemian movement of Havana. The revolutionaries played him badly at first. In 1965 they put him in a labor camp. Two years later he fled to Havana. So they put him in jail again. But then he joined the young musicians of the Grupo de Experimentation Sonora on.

Influenced by Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and the beatles there arose a new school of singer-songwriters called “Nueva Trova”, the new troubadours. Their music was deeply rooted in Cuban traditions, the lyrics clearly political. This became the soundtrack of the Cuban Revolution and Milanés toured the world as Fidel Castro’s musical ambassador. In 2004 he moved to Spain for health reasons. He died in Madrid on Monday. He was 79 years old.

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