Rafael Lam (Granma) reports on Dominican singer Johnny Ventura’s recent trip to Cuba. Ventura, often called the King of Merengue, had dreamt for many years of visiting the island. He finally did, in the company of his entire family, to celebrate his 75th birthday. Lam writes:
Many of the music and culture greats are showing an interest in getting to know Cuba, the mecca of music. The king of modern merengue Johnny Ventura for many years had planned to visit the island, it was a cherished dream; now he did, accompanied by his entire family, to celebrate his 75the birthday.
He began with the Caribbean Festival in Santiago de Cuba, where he played with his group in a special concert show at the Heredia Theater.
Then he delighted his fans at the Karl Marx Theater [in Havana], accompanied by Alaín Valdés and Tony Ávila, playing boleros and Cuban son. He showed why he is called the King of the Modern Merengue, Caballo Mayor. He sings this musical genre with a telluric force and is a true spectacle.
We really had no idea of the Dominican singer’s admiration for Cuban music and musicians from the past. “In Santo Domingo we lived hearing many Cuban radio stations. My adolescence was developed along with the music of Benny Moré, Abelardo Barroso, Miguelito Valdés, Miguelito Cuní, Roberto Faz, Barbarito Diez, the Aragón orchestra, Fajardo y sus Estrellas” [Fajardo and his Stars].
To our surprise, we found out that, in 1958, Johnny Ventura met Benny Moré on his visit to the Dominican Republic, and Ventura accompanied him playing the maracas with the Su Majestad de Rondón Vutau orchestra. The presentation was held in at Mozart Hall.
Ventura said, “I will reveal for the first time, that I felt the death of Benny as if he had been my father. If I’m an artist now, he is to blame.” [. . .]
For full article (in Spanish), see http://www.granma.cu/cultura/2015-07-17/johnny-ventura-confiesa-su-amor-por-la-musica-cubana
For more information and photo above, see http://www.cuba.cu/noticia/actualidad/2015-07-08/no-sere-feliz-hasta-que-lleve-mi-musica-por-toda-cuba-johnny-ventura/26222