They’re coming in from Cuba, to perform in the Sixth Global Cuba Fest, set to kick off in Miami Beach on Friday, as Alexandra Gratereaux reports in this article for Fox Latino News.
On its face, the visit by foreign artists may not seem amazing. But until not too long ago, plans for a performance or festival featuring artists from Cuba typically unleashed an outcry in this hub of Cuban exiles. The vocal and powerful Cuban-American community viewed the artists as puppets, if not ambassadors, of the communist regime.
But this festival, and other similar events of recent years, featuring artists from Cuba have been met with relative silence, and have taken place without a hitch.
The Cuban artists flying to Miami for the three-day event include singers such as Ivette Cepeda, who is classified as “contemporary” in Cuba and dips and dabs into son, bolero, bossa nova and jazz genres.
Emilio Izquierdo, who helped organize the campaign against Cuban singer Pablo Milanés in 2011 and the Latin Grammys, told Fox News Latino that the artists in this festival are not that well-known.
“The [Cuban] community doesn’t get irritated because no one knows who they are,” he said.
Still, he noted that other high-profile Cuban artists still send temperatures rising in the Cuban exile community.
Artists such as Havana-based Reggaeton artist Yoandys “Baby Lores” González “have offended the exile movement,” Izquierdo said, and have “solidified their beliefs with crime.”
“He has ties with Castro and communism,” Izquierdo added. “He came to the ‘Che Guevara’ night club in front of the Versailles Restaurant and threatened [us]. All this took place around the time Obama got re-elected.”
Izquierdo feels that “the Department of State is playing with the exile community” and that there are more artists like Lores and less protests on U.S. soil thanks to politicians such as the “Obamas and the Clintons.”
“They have opened up the doors to every airport for these artists,” said Izquierdo. “The exile movement is practically abandoned.”
Meanwhile, Pedro Vidal, who is the president of the Cuban American National Foundation, thinks that younger Cuban-Americans want to learn more about the artists in Cuba, and are more open minded about their performing in the United States.
Vidal says that although festivals like the Global Cuba Fest are essential, he thinks it’s just as important to highlight “alternative” artists.
Cubans are stuck in “nostalgia,” he said, and favor artists who stick to genres like “Bolero because it is the highest esteem and holds traditional what it is being ‘Cuban.'”
Artists like Rastafarian rappers David D’Omni and Raudel de Escuadrón Patriota should have the right to “write their own history,” said Vidal, who feels it’s unfair that these performers who “do not find themselves in that contemporary genre have no space” to grow.
Aside from Cepeda, the Global Cuba Fest will also be featuring jazz artist Yadam Pavel Urkiza and Julio Fowler, along with El Coro Criollo de Cuba.
“It’s an honor for me to be a part of this cultural event for all Cubans,” Cepeda told Fox News Latino. “This reassures that music has no boundaries, no borders.”
Cepeda is also taking this opportunity to promote her latest album, titled “Miracle,” which she is preparing to promote in Panama and Brazil.
“This album is about the Latin American countries, our roots, families and culture,” she said.
Cepeda is a leader in the Cuban contemporary music genre, and is also the star of a new documentary, “Une Cubaine a Paris,” which recently buzzed at Sundance.