Legendary Cuban Chanteuse Omara Portuondo Delights Los Angeles The Buena Vista Social Club Star Performance Last Concert In Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES, CA- Legendary Cuban singer and dancer Omara Portuondo brought her magic to the stage on Friday at The Regent in Downtown Los Angeles. The evening kicked off the “Last Kiss” North American tour, which will be the last tour of what has been an accomplished musical career for the Boleros diva.
Best known as the female vocalist of the grammy-winning Buena Vista Social Club, the 88-year old has been touring internationally for thirty years and delighting audiences with her vibrant music. Recently, she delighted the Regent Theatre for her final Los Angeles Performance.
Portuondo illuminated the room with her extraordinary presence and youthful energy as she stepped onstage, guided by the arm of the popular Cuban jazz-pianist, Roberto Fonseca, also featured on the “Last Kiss” tour. Seated upon a chair onstage-it was like she was singing to our ears. Portuondo began her set with her famous song ‘Drume Negrita,’ from the 1995 album Palabras, commanding her band with her soulful Cuban voice and captivated the audience with her infectious energy, where she vocalized the song in a way that for a moment, sounded like it was part of a musical instrument.
At that moment, La Novia del Feeling, or in English, “The Queen of Feeling,” showed everyone once again why she is the living legend of this timeless Cuban sound. The Feeling or Filin movement originated in Cuba back in the fifties and was an influence of American Jazz and Brazilian Nova music. Out of this influence was the fusion of Cuban style sound and mostly romantic and heartfelt lyrics.
Portuondo’s stellar voice resonated throughout the room as if no time had passed, and for a moment, time froze as I was being transported to my grandparents’ house, were my grandfather played boleros on the record player every afternoon.
After showcasing several of her famous boleros, the talented and mostly Cuban musicians who accompanied Portuondo during her tour were in charge of captivating the audience with an impressive array of instrumentation and salsa music where almost the majority of the fans danced throughout the night.
I couldn’t help but notice that not only was Spanish being spoken, but a variety of other languages. I realized then that Portuondo’s audience were as diverse as the colors of her tunic. Portuondo is a world-renowned artist who represents her native country – Cuba wherever she goes, and I was fortunate to be there that night and experienced so much energy and enchantment.
Just when the audience thought the night was over, as the song Guantanamera was ending, Fonseca helped Portuondo up from her chair as she blew kisses to the audience, the fans responded shouting “otra!, otra!’ or ‘one more, one more!” And suddenly she returned to her seat and cried out “another singer, another singer!” It seemed like Portuondo was exhausted after almost two hours singing to our ears. But that didn’t stop her, she gifted us one more song and closed her set with the most famous bolero song in the world, ‘Bésame Mucho’ by the Mexican composer Consuelo Velázquez (1940) where she invited the audience to sing along with her. Literally, the entire room sang with her, It was a very emotional farewell- full of contagious Cuban energy and love for the music and for the legend that Omara Portuondo is.