Cuba concert turns spotlight on Olga Tañón


The Miami Herald has published a lengthy article on Puerto Rican singer Olga Tañon as she prepared for a concert at Hard Rock Live in Miami that followed on her participation in Juanes’ controversial “Concert for Peace” in Havana, in which Tañón was the opening act.  Here are some excerpts, with a link to the entire article below:

You can’t squelch the Woman of Fire, as the vibrant Puerto Rican singer is known — not with a few dozen pounds (her father worked for a moving company, after all) and not with the pressure and attention churned up by her participation in Juanes’ Paz Sin Fronteras Cuba concert in September. After the Colombian rock star, Tañon was the secondary focus of the controversy leading up to the event, outspoken and unabashed even as Spanish-language media in Miami turned a critical spotlight on a longtime darling of music-awards shows and the Latin-celebrity pantheon.

. . .

Tañon’s resolve paid off. She opened the Cuba concert with an incendiary performance worthy of her nickname, shouting to the sea of people filling Havana’s Plaza de la Revolucion “Together we’re going to make history!” She electrified el exilio as she offered a greeting from a Cuban man in Miami to his daughter on the island. On her return, popular Mega TV talk show host Maria Elvira Salazar gave Tañon roses on the air, burst into tears and told her “Thank you, thank you.”

“I don’t know why I did it. Pure hellaciousness, I guess,” says Tañon, 42, sitting in her hotel suite, Ian clambering in and out of her lap and tugging on her hand. Even still, Tañon crackles with energy — face alert, eyes bright, talking in a precise torrent. She says she was the one who called Juanes and asked if she could participate, her offer inspired by memories of growing up poor in Puerto Rico, unable to afford concert tickets, and also by a Puerto Rican priest and friend who had told her that her music was popular in Cuba. Cuban reconciliation may not have been her cause before the show, but tolerance and independence were, and the negative reaction got her feisty Puerto Rican back up.

“What I never expected is that they would try to mix me up with something political that I’ve never been,” Tañon says. “The fact that you don’t think the same way I do doesn’t mean that you can give me some kind of title just because you want. Because I’ll never accept that.

. . .

Juanes was deeply grateful for Tañon’s artistry and strength of character. “Olga embodies the faith and music of the wind,” the singer says. “Olga is the strength in her voice.”

. . .

The enthusiasm of the audience on the plaza in Havana, estimated at more than 1.1 million people, made a powerful impression.

“With all the respect in the world for Cuban exiles that have suffered tremendously, I think it’s time to change,” Tañon says. “We have to learn to forgive. I take off my hat to people who, with so many limitations, have learned to live, to survive and, with all that, still want to dance and sing. That’s why it’s worth the trouble to do something so these people will get to know the world on the other side.”

For the complete article go to

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