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Ibrahim Ferrer

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Biography

With the release of the Grammy-winning album Buena Vista Social Club and an acclaimed documentary of the same name, Cuban singer Ibrahim Ferrer vaulted from obscurity and poverty to international fame in the twilight of his life. He was born February 20, 1927, when his mother went into labor during a dance in the Cuban village of San Luis. By 12, Ferrer was an orphan, surviving by selling newspapers and produce on the street. He began his professional singing career at 14, joining his cousin's vocal group Los Jovenes del Son -- Ferrer later sang with acts including Conjunto Sorpresa, Maravilla de Beltrán, Beny Moré, and Electo Rosell's jazz group La Orquesta Chepín Chovén, with whom he scored the 1955 regional hit "El Platanal de Bartolo." He also sang with Pacho Alonso, whose Santiago-based group Los Bocucos relocated to Havana in 1959 in the wake of the Cuban Revolution -- Ferrer served with Alonso on and off for over three decades, during that time proving himself not only a master of the energetic, uptempo guarachas and sones but also a sublime bolero singer with an uncommon sense of space and silence. The first months of the Revolution promised a new way of life and expanded musical horizons. In 1962, Los Bocucos even toured Europe on the invitation of the Communist Party, and while in Moscow Ferrer even met Soviet premier Nikita Khruschev. Days later, the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis conspired to strand the bandmembers in Moscow, where they remained until the blockade was lifted. Upon his return, Ferrer found Cuba devastated by poverty -- he and his wife Carida eventually moved their 11 children into the dirt-poor Havana district of Los Stiltos, where he resumed his performing career but also sought out odd jobs to keep the family afloat. With American tourists now forbidden to visit Cuba, there was little money in music, but Ferrer found the silver lining: "The music got better after the Revolution because we weren't playing for tourists so much," he once said. "There was a greater identification between the musicians and the audience, which was Cuban." Ferrer nevertheless retired from performing following a 1991 Chilean tour with Los Bocucos. He then lived on his meager state pension, shining shoes for additional money. The Buena Vista Social Club project grew out of discussions between Cuban musician Juan de Marcos González and the virtuoso American guitarist Ry Cooder, an avowed fan of Latin-American music. In 1996 Cooder traveled to Cuba in search of additional musicians, and González recommended he hire Ferrer. The guitarist was blown away by the now 69-year-old singer, who agreed to come out of retirement to perform alongside the 89-year-old guitarist Compay Segundo and the 77-year-old pianist Rubén González. The resulting album followed in 1997, selling over four million copies and making global celebrities of its featured musicians -- its cover even featured Ferrer walking the streets of Havana in the flat golfer's cap that became his trademark. Filmmaker Wim Wenders followed Cooder back to Havana for a 1999 documentary also titled Buena Vista Social Club -- the gentle and elegant Ferrer emerged as its star, boosting sales of his Cooder-produced, self-titled 1999 debut solo LP, which sold close to two million copies. A follow-up, Buenos Hermanos, appeared in 2003. In the wake of a European tour, Ferrer died of multiple organ failure in Havana on August 6, 2005. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Ay, Candela
  3.   Nuestra Ruca
  4.   Ahora No Puedo
  5.   Hay Que Entrarle a Palos a Ése
  6.   Mañana Me Voy Pa' Sibanicu
  7.   Compositor Confundido
  8.   Estoy Seco y Me Quiero Mojar
  9.   Buenos Hermanos
  10.   Mami Me Gustó
  11.   Marieta
  12.   Guaguancó Callejero
  13.   Boquiñeñe
  14.   Qué Bueno Baila Usted
  15.   Guateque Campesino
  16.   Mañana Me Voy a Sibanicu
  17.   Silencio by Omara Portuondo
  18.   No Tiene Telaraña
  19.   Boliviana
  20.   Deuda
  21.   Todavia Me Queda Voz
  22.   Oye el Consejo
  23.   Fomento
  24.   Herido de Sombras
  25.   En Que Parte de Cuba Nació el Sol
  26.   De Camino a la Vereda
  27.   Pero Que Suegro
  28.   El Botellero
  29.   Perfume de Gardenias
  30.   Melodia Del Rio
  31.   Quiéreme Mucho
  32.   Silencio
  33.   Apúntate Una Mi Social
  34.   Alma Libre
  35.   Perfidia
  36.   Habana Camilo
  37.   El Son de La Santiaguera
  38.   Mil Congojas
  39.   Cariño Falso (Guaracha)
  40.   Hasta Siempre Comandante
  41.   Nuestra Ultima Cita
  42.   Murmullo
  43.   Dos Gardenias
  44.   Marietta
  45.   Una Fuerza Inmensa featuring Beny Moré
  46.   Fomento featuring Beny Moré
  47.   Tiene Telaraña
  48.   Así Es la Vida
  49.   Apúntame Una, Mi Social
  50.   El Platanal del Bartolo
  51.   Maana Me Voy
  52.   Si Te Contara
  53.   Convergencia
  54.   La Chica del Granizado
  55.   La Música Cubana
  56.   El Dandy
  57.   Bodas de Oro
  58.   El Mecanico
  59.   Monte Adentro
  60.   Como La Piel de Canela
  61.   Mi Oriente
  62.   Cucuruchito de Coco
  63.   El Platanal de Bartolo
  64.   Asi Es La Vida, Compay
  65.   Esto Se Baila y Se Toca
  66.   El Son de la Santiaguera
  67.   Santa Cecilia
  68.   Un Son Para el Guayabero
  69.   Mi Tonada Montuna
  70.   Viene de La Tierra Caliente
  71.   Como Fue
  72.   Rossanna
  73.   Ay, Azabache! by Chepin Y Su Orquesta Oriental
  74.   Cienfuegos Tiene Su Guaguancó
  75.   Cada Noche un Amor
  76.   Quizas Quizas
  77.   El Dandy featuring Beny Moré
  78.   Dos Almas
  79.   Como la Piel Canela
  80.   Naufragio
  81.   Copla Guajira
  82.   Fuiste Cruel
  83.   Ya Soy Feliz
  84.   La Chica del Granizado featuring Beny Moré
  85.   Bruca Maniguá
  86.   Uno
  87.   Una Fuerza Inmensa
  88.   Te Guste o No
  89.   Aquellos Ojos Verdes
  90.   El Mecanico featuring Beny Moré
  91.   Coma la Piel de Canela
  92.   Como la Piel de Canela featuring Beny Moré
  93.   Como el Arrullo de Palma
  94.   El Platanal de Bartolo featuring Beny Moré
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