Entertainment

20 Photos That Document The History, Vibrant Past, And Uncertain Future Of Cuba

It doesn’t take a photo to fall in love with the rich culture and historical background the island and country of Cuba has to offer. These photos of the country, however, will give you insight into its complicated history, passionate people, and uncertain future.

Martí y María Mantilla


Beloved Cuban poet, essayist and professor, José Julián Martí Perez became a symbol of Cuban’s bid for independence against Spain in the 19th century. Amongst Cubans he is considered the “Apostle of Cuban Independence.” In the photo above, Martí is pictured with his daughter María Mantilla, daughter of Carmen Miyares de Mantilla, a Venezuelan who ran a boarding house in New York.

Celia Cruz Cuba circa 1950s.


The Afro-Cubana sings with Ester Borja and Isidro Camara.

Babies flee Cuba

George Barilla / Pinterest.com

Operation Peter Pan (or Operación Pedro Pan) was a mass exodus of over 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban minors to the United States between 1960 and 1962. Father Bryan O. Walsh of the Catholic Welfare Bureau created the program to provide air transportation to the United States for Cuban children. It operated without publicity out of fear that it would be viewed as an anti-Castro political enterprise.

Fidel Castro in Hemingway Museum

(Photo by Jorge Rey/Getty Images)


Havana, Cuba- November 11, 2002. An old manual typewriter sits in Finca de Vigia, the villa where author Ernest Hemingway lived from 1939-1960. Cuban President Fidel Castro and an American group led by U.S. Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) signed an agreement to collaborate on the restoration and preservation of 2,000 letters, 3,000 personal photographs and some draft fragments of novels and stories that were kept in the humid basement of the villa.

Maria Colon

Tony Duffy/Allsport


July 1980. Olympic Champion Maria Colon of Cuba throws the javelin at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, USA.

Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine

hollywoodreporter.com / Pinterest

Backed by Miami Sound Machine, Cuban singer Gloria Estefan does the conga during the 1988 AMAs.

1991 International Basball All-Star Game

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)


Los Angeles – August 24 1991: Cuban baseball player Omar Luis steps up to bat during the International Baseball All-Star Game on August 24, 1991 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.

Boxing Legends

(Photo by Jorge Rey/Liaison

January 1996. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali (left) playfully spars with beloved Cuban boxer Teofilo Stevenson, a 3-time Olympic gold medalist in the Roberto Balado boxing gym in Havana, Cuba. Ali toured the island as part of a mission to bring aid to Cuban hospitals.

Federal agents seized Elián González.

bruce_wayne11/ Instagram

April 2000. Cuban citizen Elián González is held in a closet by Donato Dalrymple, in Miami as Federal agent Jim Goldman retrieves him from his relatives home. Elián was returned to his father’s custody four hours after the raid but only returned to the U.S. seven months and one week after he left Cuba.

Concierto Para Los Heroes Benefit

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.


September 14, 2001. Celia Cruz perfoms at the ‘Concierto Para Los Heroes’ benefit sponsored by The Recording Academy at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, Ca. The benefit was given for the families of fallen firefighters and police officers of New York City of the September 11 attacks.

Jimmy Carter Visits Cuba

(Photo by Jorge Rey/Getty Images)


Havana, Cuba- May 12, 2002. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalin Carter tour the Center of Old with Havana City historian Eusebio Leal (L). Carter is on a six-day visit to Cuba and is the first American president to visit the communist island since Fidel Castro took power in 1959.

Cubans Manage Despite 40-Year U.S. Embargo

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Pinar Del Rio, Cuba- October 5, 2002. A person holds out a food rations card October 5, 2002 in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba. The “supplies booklet” or “rations booklet” as Cubans call it has come to symbolize the failure of Cuba’s agricultural sector and the communist government’s stubborn demand for an egalitarian subsidy for each one of its 11 million people. Cubans play less than $2 for the items they receive under the ration card whose supply only lasts up to 20 days out of each month.

With the booklet, each Cuban is meant to receive a monthly ration of seven lbs of rice, half a bottle of cooking oil, one sandwich-sized piece of bread per day, a certain ammount of eggs, beans, chicken or fish, spaghetti, white and brown sugar and cooking gas.

Children get one liter of milk and yogurt while diabetics get special booklets for their diets. For those celebrating special occasions, there are also rations— cakes for birthdays, rum and beer for weddings. Students also recieve rations for uniforms, pencils, and notebooks for the start of the school year. Soap, toothpaste, salt, and liquid detergent have been cut from the rations for years.

Cuba Holds First Cuban Olympic Games

(Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)


Havana, Cuba – November 29, 2002. A Cuban athlete performs the high jump during the first Cuban Olympic games at the Panamericano Stadium in Havana, Cuba. The 11th Pan American Games were held in Havana.

Celia Cruz’s Funeral

(Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)

New York – July 22, 2003. Fans of Celia Cruz attend a public ceremony held in her honor at Woodlawn Cemetery after her death and before the casket was taken for a private burial July 22, 2003 in the Bronx borough of New York City.

Cubans Try To Defect In 1951 Chevy Truck

Photo by Gregory Ewald/ U.S. Coast Guard/ Getty Images


AT SEA – JULY 24, 2003. In this U.S. Coast Guard handout, Cuban migrants trying to reach the U.S. coast in Florida take a makeshift boat made out of a 1951 Chevrolet truck with a propeller driven off the drive shaft. After making it within 40 miles of Key West, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo returned the 12 Cuban migrants from the vessel back to Cuba.

Cuba Economy Struggles After Row With Europe

(Photo by Jorge Rey/Getty Images)


Havana- August 29, 2003. A woman sells newspapers in front of a market place. The island nation endures an extreme economic crisis in a dispute with the European Union, Cuba’s most important trade and investment partner as well as a major source for its tourism. The EU cut back on political contacts with Cuba in June 2003 after the mass arrest of 75 dissidents and the executions of three ferry hijackers trying to reach the U.S.

Cuba Celebrates Legacy Of Its Revolution

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


Havana, Cuba December 2006. Fireworks explode over a el morro as a boat carries a sign that reads “Viva Fidel’ at midnight in honor of the dictator and the 50th-anniversary celebration of the forming of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces.

Pope Benedict XVI Holds Mass in Plaza de la Revolución ‘José Martí’ Havanna

(Photo by L’Osservatore Romano Vatican-Pool/Getty Images)

Havana, Cuba – March 29, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI holds Mass in Plaza de la Revolución ‘José Martí.

Gloria Estefan Receives The Golden Medals To The Merit In Fine Arts

(Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

Madrid Spain- July 23, 2019. Singer Gloria Estefan receives the Golden Medal to the Merit in Fine Arts from Spanish Minister of Culture Jose Guirao at the Royal Theater.

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Luis Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Luis Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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