Artist Profiles: Eliades Ochoa

Eliades Ochoa was born in a rural area, Songo La Maya, in 1946. When he turned 11 years old, Ochoa began to play in bars and houses of ill repute in Santiago de Cuba, out of necessity. Since he was so young, almost as big as his guitar, that attracted people’s affection and he was asked to play a guaracha whose title became Ochoa’s nickname, “El Cubanito” (the little Cuban boy).

In 1962 he started to work in radio, producing his own show, “Trinchera Agraria”, specialized in música guajira campesina (Cuban country music). In 1971 he left radio and started to play in the Casa de la Trova de Santiago together with Quinteto de la Trova and Septeto Típico Oriental. Things stayed that way until veteran group leader Roberto Echeverría left Cuarteto Patria in 1978. Elíades Ochoa joined the legendary group, which, until then, had not recorded any albums despite its popularity.

With the addition of Eliades Ochoa, Cuarteto Patria started its international career, playing since then in Europe, Mexico and even the United States. In addition, the music repertoire was expanded from the original bolero and criolla, Cuarteto Patria’s specialties, to include son montuno, guaracha and guajira. All of it perfectly integrated in a natural way by a group bent on preserving the best musical tradition in Cuba with an essential line-up: guitars, acoustic bass, percussion and well harmonized vocals.

In 1997 Eliades Ochoa participated in the Buena Vista Social Club project, that Ry Cooder produced, bringing together some of the best performers of Cuban son.

Although Eliades Ochoa announced his retirement as a trova singer in early 2001, the Cuban musician acknowledged in May of that year that he would continue singing his music throughout the world, after reconsidering that first decision. “It is difficult to give up the public who listens to my music, I appreciated that during my tour of South America.”

In December of 2008, Eliades Ochoa and other Cuban musicians met musicians from Mali at a Madrid studio. they recorded an album titled Afrocubism.

When Eliades Ochoa is not on tour you can find him chatting with his friends or signing autographs in his hometown, Santiago de Cuba, at the intersection of José María Heredia and San Pedro streets.

Discography

* A Una Coqueta, with Cuarteto Patria (1993)
* Lion Is Loose (Cubason, 1996)
* CubAfrica, with Manu Dibango (Mélodie, 1998)
* Sublime Illusión (Higher Octave, 1999)
* Chanchaneando (Para, 2000)
* Tribute To The Cuarteto Patria (Higher Octave World, 2000)
* Eliades Ochoa y El Cuarteto Patria (Egrem, 2000)
* Cuidadito Compay Gallo (Egrem, 2001)
* Son De Oriente (Egrem, 2001)
* Estoy Como Nunca (Higher Octave World, 2002)
* Llega El Cuarteto Patria (Egrem, 2002)
* Son De Santiago (Edenways, 2003)
* Ochoa y Segundo (Edenways, 2003)
* Se Soltó un León (Corason Records, 2006)
* La colección cubana: Eliades Ochoa (Nascente NSCD 114, 2006)
* Afrocubism (World circuit, 2010)
* Eliades Ochoa and Alma Latina – Guajira Mas Guajira (Tumi Music, 2016)

Angel Romero, World Music Central.org

January 29, 2017

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