Alex Cuba will perform with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony on April 4 and 5, at 7:30pm at the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts, located at 36 King Street West in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Valerie Hill writes about this Cuban artist’s trajectory:
Most children dream about growing bigger, but Alex Puentes’ dream focused on his tiny hands. “Growing up, music was everywhere,” said the Latin singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist known by his stage name, Alex Cuba. “My father was teaching guitar, but I was very young and had to wait until my hands were big enough to play.”
Cuba [. . .] first learned to play the claves, a Cuban percussion instrument consisting of a pair of thick, wooden dowels which are slapped together. “It requires exact timing,” said Cuba. “As a four year old, I was doing that.”
He was also doing that on a nationally televised children’s program accompanying students from his father’s music school. “My father had a band, the kids he was teaching,” said Cuba. “They were 12 years old and I was only four. I felt nervous at the beginning, but then it felt cool.” By age six he was old enough and big enough to play guitar, eventually rounding out his talents by singing harmonies with his twin brother, Adonis Puentes. [. . .] Eventually, Cuba found his confidence and though he wanted to study music in one of his country’s larger music schools, his parents decided to keep him home.
[. . .] Cuba stayed under his father’s tutelage and in 1995, along with his brother, the three men toured Canada as Quintet Los Puentes. That tour would bring the young singer much more than just international exposure.
Sarah Goodacre of Smithers, B.C., spotted him for the first time during his Vancouver performance and there were immediate sparks between them. A student of Latin American studies and fluent in Spanish, the language barrier wasn’t an issue for her and she followed him back to Cuba one month after the tour ended. They were soon married. While his wife would have been content to stay in Cuba, he wanted to live a country where there was acceptance as well as freedom to travel and travel he did, touring mostly Europe. “I wanted to be a citizen of the world,” he said.
Cuba immigrated to Canada in 1999, first settling with his new wife in Victoria, close to where his brother lived. The two performed as The Puentes Brothers, playing mostly Cuban standards for which they received several awards for the debut recording in 2001 including a Juno nomination. Though successful, the two brothers were heading in very different directions musically and in 2004, they broke up as a duo. [. . .] Cuba formed his own group, The Alex Cuba Band which earned a Juno award for World Music Album for their debut album Humo De Tabaco in 2006 and won the same award again two years later. In 2010 Cuba won the Latin Grammy Award for best new artist.
Cuba preferred a more jazzy sound in his music and he credits Canada with being a pioneer in creating a hunger for the Canadian/Cuban musical style he developed as a solo artist.
For more information on the performance, see http://www.kwsymphony.ca/index.php or call 519-745-4711 (or toll free 1-888-745-4717).