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Subject: Cuban singer Ibrahim Ferrer dies

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 08/08/05 at 11:45 am

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Cuban singer Ibrahim Ferrer passed away over the weekend.
The press is noting Ibrahim Ferrer as a "leading voice" in the Buena Vista Social Club.  Ry Cooder went to Havana looking for musicians to reignite the pre-Castro Cuban music scene.  He succeeded beyond anything he expected.  The result was an Academy Award-winning motion picture, "The Buena Vista Social Club," directed by Wim Wenders, and several albums of newly-invigorated Cuban music by an aging group of the island's best.  These projects won several Grammys.
Cooder stirred pop culture interest in the music of Cuba, which is one the world's richest musical heritages in its fusion of African, Caribbean, and Latin American styles.
Ferrer was among these musicians performing for Havana's lively tourist industry in the days before the Castro revolution.  While Fidel Castro sought to remake Cuba for Cubans, he expelled and suppressed the champagne culture of casinos, nightclubs, and dancehalls.  Castro would tolerate no sugar barons and no mafiosos exploiting the Cuban people as under the Batista regime.  Yet it was this corrupt imperialist influence that financed so much of the popular arts.  Thus the music fell silent and withered away for decades.  That is, until Ry Cooder took advantage of a less militant atmosphere in 1990s Havana and brought the scene back to life.
Buena Vista members Compay Segundo, another singer, and a pianist, Ruben Gonzales died in 2003.
Ibrahim Ferrer died of complications from Emphysema last Saturday.  He was 78.

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