The International Cubadisco Festival awards are not based on record sales, but on quality. These are academic awards and this year they are dedicated to symphony and choral music. Some critics have commented, rightly, that there is an excess of categories and subcategories and so the list of winners is quite long.
On this occasion, over 200 phonographic productions were submitted, though not all were not selected for the competition. The winning recordings were announced in a prolonged and chaotic encounter in the Arcos de Cristal hall of the Tropicana cabaret.
Two albums were worthy of the 2015 Cubadisco Grand Prize: Oh, yes! (Producciones Colibrí) by Entrevoces, a Cuban choral group directed by Digna Guerra (also winning in the choral music category) and La vuelta al mundo (Unicornio record label), by Alexander Abreu and Havana D’Primera (also topping the dance category).
Digna Guerra told this publication that this is the first album recorded in Cuba dedicated to the African-American genre of spiritual and gospel and includes eleven songs. It was presented at the Festival in a concert held at the Oratorio San Felipe Neri.
In the songwriter category, the award went to Palabras, Haydee Milanés canta a Marta Valdés (Bis Music) and the video clip from one of the tracks on the album, Canción fácil, directed by the National Film Award winner, Fernando Pérez, won in that category.
Valdés, one of Cuba’s most important composers, said, “In the case of Haydee, these are not versions. The interpretations were recorded by my side. She was very respectful, and maintained a great faithfulness to my music. For me this work is an award in itself,” while the singer said she was “very happy that people like it. It was very hard work and they are very beautiful songs that deserve to be heard, very successful songs sung by many greats. It’s an album recorded very sincerely.”
Liana Fernández won the Concert Soloist award for her first solo album, Intermezzo al sur (Producciones Colibrí) and said that the 19 tracks bring together “three centuries of Cuban music, Cervantes, Lecuona, José María Vitier and Frank Fernández, and South American composers such as Carlos Guastavino and Ginestera.”
The Best Pop Album award went to Diana Fuentes, whose 2014 album Planeta Planetario was released on Sony Latin worldwide except in Cuba, where it came out on the state enterprise label Egrem.
The Best Pop Album award went to Diana Fuentes for Planeta Planetario (EGREM) and GI held a more extensive conversation with the singer, summarized here due to lack of space: “It is always of great joy and satisfaction to receive an award. I admire and respect very much the music of my country, for me the greatest treasure we as Cubans have is this music that accompanies us, and that is the soundtrack to our lives. This album marks a turning point in my music; it’s a more alternative Pop and contains a fusion of Latin American and Caribbean genres and rhythms, there’s some Puerto Rican bomba and plena but there are also touches of Santiago conga, a little folk, more urban genres like hip hop. I owe much of this to the producer of the album, Eduardo Cabras, who everyone knows as Visitante from Calle 13. It also gives me great pleasure that this album has served as a bridge between Sony Music Latin – the label that supports me in other territories such as the United States, Europe, Latin America – and Egrem my record label in Cuba. It is the first album signed under a multinational label such as Sony…to be licensed in Cuba.”
We list the other prizewinning albums by their labels. EGREM: Dance category (innovations) El Niño y La Verdad with Llegó la verdad; Fusion, Luis Barbería featuring Sexto Sentido, A full; Traditional Son, Septeto Santiaguero y el Canario, No quiero llanto. Tributo a Los Compadres; and Afro-Cuban Music, Team Cuba de la Rumba, La solución.
The Producciones Colibrí label received the most awards beginning with the Excellence Award which went to Omara Portuondo for Magia negra; in the Traditional Trova category, Santiago Feliú with Senderos; Nueva Trova went to Augusto Blanca with Poblinas Vol. 1 y 2; Vocal Music and Vocal Instrumental to Ars Longa, Bolero vs. Fandango; Instrumental Music, Alejandro Falcón, Cuba now danzón; Chamber Music, various performers with Mitología de las aguas. Obras del Maestro Leo Brouwer (with Espiral Eterna);Rock, Zeus, La verdad prohibida; Concert Music, César López y Orquesta del ISA, Entre cuerdas; Varied Traditions, Orquesta América, 70 Américas; Cuban Jazz, Ernán López Nussa, Invención Lekszycki; and Jazz, Ruly Herrera with Mal Tiempo.
The Bis Music record label had a poor run this year with only three album awards: Trova Pop Rock went to Adrian Berazaín for Si te hago canción; Rap Hip-Hop, La Cruzada Estudios, Pedazo de cielo; and Children’s Music, Omara Portuondo, Acuarela.
UNICORNIO won the Compilation award for Amaury Pérez’s Gratitudes and Planet Record won the award for Debut Album for Laritza Bacallao, Solo se vive una vez. (Granma)