Today, on October 15th 2015 the Buena Vista Social Club will be performing at the White House in Washington on the occasion of the Hispanic Heritage Month. The Cuban ambassador, as well as President Obama will be present among many other important guests.
Flashback: In 1998, Compay Segundo, the craggy country singer who emerged as the front man of the band, traveled to Miami with other Cuban musicians to perform at a Latin edition of the MIDEM music conference. The artists were received by Cuban exile protestors, and during the concert the hall had to be evacuated because of a bomb threat.*
It is not new that music can connect people. I do remember how every time when there is an event on the fall of the Berlin Wall the Scorpions song “Wind of Change” is being played. And there is no more powerful symbol of Cuban resistance and the Cuban lifestyle than the songs played by the Buena Vista Social Club. Everywhere you go in Cuba, especially in the touristy spots, you can hear the sounds of the songs, singing about revolution,victory, and resistance. These songs are surrounded by the touch of nostalgia that you can find everywhere in Cuba, but also the sign of resistance- We are still here! No matter what happens, we will survive! Hasta la victoria siempre!
And this is also a message of the band- they are all pretty old already and doing their farewell tour. But now, playing in Washington for the US President is probably a huge achievement for the group.
Who would have imagined 20 years ago that this would be possible one day?
Music is a way to connect people- and I believe that it is great that Cuban music is now being brought to Washington. It will help to get an understanding of the two cultures and through culture (music, language, etc.) the two countries can get closer to each other. As long as tolerance and acceptance are the basis for it. No one should feel as superior.
I am curious how Obama is going to react, but I am certain that he will love the music of the Buena Vista Social Club. I mean, who doesn’t love it?
* Extract Retrieved from Judy Cantor-Navaz, “Buena Vista Social Club to perform at White House,” billboard, October 13, 2015, read here
Jim Acosta, “First on CNN:White House to host legendary Cuban Musical Art,” CubaSi, October 12,2015, read here