The Cuban Soul: Art and Music

Havana is the capital of Cuba both geographically and musically. Whether you’re dancing to the Rhythmic beats of Afro-Caribbean tunes, salsa, cha-cha or rumba – which all started in Cuba and never stopped – you will definitely feel the Cuban culture beneath your feet. However, the music genres don’t stop there! Cubans also enjoy reggaeton and timba, of which, greatly intertwines with the art of dance.

You can discover some Cuban musicians here.

What is interesting about the formation of Cuban music over the years is how it has been able to grow and become its own without the influence of the internet. While the internet has been crucial in how music has adapted and changed in America, the opposite has happened in Cuba. “The way the internet has been controlled on the island—a system of censorship, limited bandwidth, and high cost—inhibits locals’ access to music from the outside world”(Gallegos). Therefore, the music scene in Cuba is completely domestic. They have a sharing system called el paquete, which is a completely underground hand-delivery system of USBs with the latest music. They also share digital magazines and telenovels this way. However, Cubans rarely get to share their music internationally, causing America to get a much delayed listen. Hopefully, if the Cuban-American relationship improves, Cuban artists will be able to get more exposure to American audiences and satisfy their mutual curiosity of different music scenes.

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  Danay Suarez / Photo by Eddy Angel

Read about the nine Cuban musicians to look out for here.

On another note, Cuba thrives with some of the most exciting and innovative contemporary art in the world. Cuban art has been known to compare to major works in New York, Los Angeles, London and Paris, while still maintaining a traditional Cuban spirit. Cuba as a nation recognizes the importance of art because Cubans are artists from birth. Because they grow up with so little, they have to learn how to invent and create. Mix that with a colorful and lively culture, Cubans can come up with something fantastic.

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Oil Painting By Cuban Artist E. Alonso

“I think Cubans are dreamers and poets from birth and put their dreams and their poetry into music and art,” adds Sandra Levinson, Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies. She also adds that there are probably more artists in Cuba per capita than any other country in the world. Furthermore, the constant dualities in Cuban society causes a lot of creative tension, which leads to unique forms of creative expression. Similar to their music, Cuban artists are still driven more by their own creative muses than by the commercial art market which they have been isolated from for so long.

It is easy to say that I cannot wait to discover the Cuban forms of creative expression for myself when I visit in July.

Sierra Dawn.

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